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Denial of abortion is “torture,” says United Nations report #Vaw #reproductiverights

Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

report recently presented to the United Nations (PDF link) says that a denial of abortion can be considered torture, in line with actual methods of female torture such as female genital mutilation.

ultrasoundThe report by Juan E. Méndez, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is cited as a report “on certain forms of abuses in health-care settings that may cross a threshold of mistreatment that is tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

Méndez, a visiting professor at American University’s law school, makes some bold statements in Section B, entitled “Reproductive rights violations.” His assertions show just how far the quest for abortion has come in the world – to a point where the torture of a baby ripped from the womb and sucked away and thrown into a medical incinerator is considered a human right that spares someone else from torture.

Section 46 of his report notes:

International and regional human rights bodies have begun to recognize that abuse and mistreatment of women seeking reproductive health services can cause tremendous and lasting physical and emotional suffering, inflicted on the basis of gender.  Examples of such violations include abusive treatment and humiliation in institutional settings;   involuntary sterilization; denial of legally available health services  such as abortion and post-abortion care; forced abortions and sterilizations; female genital mutilation[.]

To compare involuntary sterilization and female genital mutilation – permanent methods of actual torture – with the denial of a “right” to take another life is tragic. In fact, it doesn’t actually line up with the U.N.’s own statements.

The U.N.’s Committee against Torture defines torture in its Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and it actually reads more like a pro-life statement in its language:

Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations, recognition of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Recognizing that those rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human person …

The U.N. then goes on to define what torture is:

Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.

Clearly the U.N.’s version of torture doesn’t seem to allow for the killing of a baby in utero, but Méndez does. Though many current exceptions to abortion laws note that “mental suffering” is justification for that exception and include it as a health reason to have an abortion, the comparison of who suffers more, a woman who carries a baby to term and gives the baby up for adoption or the one who lives forever with the reality of choosing to kill her baby, cannot adequately be evaluated by one man making a report to the United Nations.

While it would be wrong to assume that a woman carrying a child she is not prepared to raise would not be painful, it is also wrong to call it torture. Torture would be punishing her for the pregnancy or forcing her to raise a child she isn’t prepared to raise. However, the real torture is inflicted on the baby in her womb, who will be sucked out and discarded if that abortion happens.

Méndez goes on to note that:

For many rape survivors, access to a safe abortion procedure is made virtually impossible by a maze of administrative hurdles, and by official negligence and obstruction. In the landmark decision of K.N.L.H. v. Peru, the Human Rights Committee deemed the denial of a therapeutic abortion a violation of the individual’s right to be free from ill- treatment. In the case of P. and S. v. Poland, ECHR stated that “the general stigma attached to abortion and to sexual violence …, caus[ed] much distress and suffering, both physically and mentally.”

It’s unquestionable that a rape survivor who gets pregnant (notably, this is about 1% of all rape victims, so not a majority of those seeking abortions, though a valid minority) needs great care. The tragedy inflicted on her must be handled well, but the torture has come from the rapist, not from the denial of taking another life. Our torment should never allow us the right to kill another. A culture that seeks to nurture and care for victims of torture needs to put its focus on caring for the victim, giving resources, and providing many other solutions that will help heal the tragedy by giving a woman lasting comfort to the effect that she has helped to redeem a tragedy, not to create another.

Méndez is insistent that denial of abortion is torture, though, for all cases. He says in section 50:

The Committee against Torture has repeatedly expressed concerns about restrictions on access to abortion and about absolute bans on abortion as violating the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. On numerous occasions United Nations bodies have expressed concern about the denial of or conditional access to post-abortion care. often for the impermissible purposes of punishment or to elicit confession.  The Human Rights Committee explicitly stated that breaches of article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights include forced abortion, as well as denial of access to safe abortions to women who have become pregnant as a result of rape and raised concerns about obstacles to abortion where it is legal.

Here forced abortions are presented as on par with denial of abortion. But the fact is, they are not. A forced abortion takes a life, and the denial of abortion saves one. A forced abortion can never be undone. A woman is subjected to the horror of having her body violated (possibly a second time, if she was a victim of rape), and knowing life has been taken from her. Denying someone a right to have a life taken is not torture; it’s a basic human right for the unborn life.

By all accounts, Méndez would consider the North Dakota legislature torturers for deciding that life begins at conception. He would consider Kansas and Arkansas as inflicting torture for passing laws that protect life. However, denying abortion isn’t torture, because the motive isn’t torment; the motive isn’t to make someone suffer, but to prevent the suffering of the baby destroyed and of the mother, who will have to live with it.

The extra tragedy in this culture of death is that we have walked forward into the past, where we justify death as a merciful thing, when truly it brings destruction. Méndez has stretched the definitions to a point that distorts them and, in the process, manages to reduce the true suffering of victims of such horrific crimes as female genital mutilation to the level of carrying a living baby to term. Protecting life can never be equated with killing it.

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE- Gender Just, Gender Sensitive and NOT Gender Neutral Rape Laws #Vaw #Justice

Parliamentary Committee ignores Verma Committee

 

The report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the 2012 Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill as well as the 2013 Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance not only violates the letter and spirit of the Justice Verma Committee (JVC) recommendations but endangers and deepens women’s vulnerability in this country.

Representatives of women’s groups, democratic and human rights groups and activists are alarmed about the following major lacunae in current legislative protection to women, upheld by the Standing Committee report:

 

The Accused Must Be Male: One pernicious provision of the Ordinance 2013, upheld by the Committee report is blanket gender neutrality of the perpetrator of sexual harassment, assault and rape. Put simply: unlike in existing law where the accused is male, the Committee recommendations if enacted into a proposed new Bill, will make it possible for women to be charged with these offences. This is wholly unacceptable.

  • The Reality of Rape: It is an act of violence that must be seen in the context of deeply entrenched power inequalities between men and woman in our society.  Gender neutral provisions only strengthen those already powerful, silencing the real victims. The police and legal system are part of this inequity and bias against women, evident in the huge impunity for rape in our country. Recommending that these laws be gender neutral makes mockery of this reality.
  • The Chilling Effect: Apart from situations where women hold positions of statutory authority (like police officers, etc), in all other situations,  making the accused gender neutral means that complaints by women can be met with  counter-complaints to get them to withdraw. Given the current odds against women securing justice, the gender neutrality of accused in sexual violence laws, will have a deep chilling effect on women’s ability to even file complaints.
  • Men, not boys: There is no basis to the argument that gender neutral laws allow young boys to be protected from abuse, because all young boys and girls are fully protected by gender neutral laws in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012.

 

Age Of Consent Must Remain 16: The Standing Committee report endorses the 2013 Ordinance, by raising the age of consent from 16 to 18, thus criminalizing the consent of young persons and exposing them to unjust imprisonment by forcing judges to take action merely on third party complaints, including khap panchayats. At the very least, any proposed new law should allow for a Young Person’s Defence, where consent of young persons between 16-18 years is taken into account if there is no more than 4 years age difference between two consenting parties.

 

Rape Within Marriage Must Be Recognized As An Offence: Marital status must not have any bearing on the right of a woman to say no! The law must recognize when sexual assault and rape occur within marriage. Also, current IPC provisions recognizing rape in the context of judicial separation must be replaced by simple separation, given that most separated couples do not get judicial decrees, but simply start living apart. Without this change the law makers are only sending a signal that even while living apart from her husband, a woman can be raped by him without any recourse to justice.

We are also deeply concerned by the Standing Committee’s silence on ending impunity for sexual assault by security forces. The existing statutory immunity for armed forces ‘acting in the line of duty’ surely cannot apply to sexual assault committed on women. No sanction should be required to proceed with prosecution of such personnel in sexual assault cases.

As the 2013 Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance and the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee enter into Parliament for debate, we urge ALL PARTIES aligned with women’s rights to ensure that laws made in the wake of the brutal Delhi gang rape case do not leave women even more vulnerable than they already are.

Date: 6th March 2013, signed by:

– Kalpana Mehta, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, Indore

– Vrinda Grover, lawyer, New Delhi

– Farah Naqvi, women’s rights activist, New Delhi

– Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, AIPWA

– Madhu Mehra, Partners for Law in Development, New Delhi

– Chayanika Shah & Sandhya Gokhale, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay

– Deepti Sharma, Saheli, New Delhi

– Kamayani Bali Mahabal,  Kractivist

– Nandini Rao, New Delhi

– Albeena Shakil

– Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action, Bombay- Lawyers Collective, New Delhi

– Kalpana Vishwanath & Suneeta Dhar, Jagori, New Delhi

– Gautam Bhan, New Delhi

– AALI, Lucknow

– Nirantar, New Delhi

– Karuna Nundy, Advocate, Supreme Court of India

– Seema Misra, Lawyer, New Delhi

– Ayesha Kidwai, GSCASH, JNU

– Prita Rani Jha, Peace and Equality Cell

– Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression

 

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Bhopal: Married woman abducted, gang raped for 10 days #Vaw #WTFnews

gangrape

 DNA, march 3, 201306:08AM IST
Bhopal: In a shocking incident, a married woman was abducted and gang raped for 10 days in Shivpuri. The incident occurred under Bamore Kala police station limit in the district.
Following the complaint from the victim on Saturday, the police started a search for four accused – two of them for the charges of rape and abduction while others for supporting them.
According to the police, four persons abducted a married woman from a local market when she went to buy bangles on February 18. When they abducted her, her brother-in-law was waiting in the nearby bus stop to inform her about the bus in which they were to travel in. But when she did not return even after the arrival of the bus in which they were to board, he stared to search for her, but there was no trace.
Subsequently, he returned to home and informed about it and a missing person complaint was lodged. She, however, on Friday reached her home and narrated her 10 day ordeal.
According to her, Inder Lodhi and R Lodhi abducted her when she was on the way to buy bangles and took her to different places and raped her. The accused left her on Friday with a warning of dire consequences in case she dared to report it to anyone.

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3 Things You Should Know About “Zero Dark Thirty” and #Torture #Oscar2013

 

BY ZEKE JOHNSON

Still from Zero Dark Thirty.

After seeing the new film Zero Dark Thirty, I think there are three things everyone should know:

1) Zero Dark Thirty is not a documentary. The film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal, said: “It’s a movie. It’s not a documentary… My standard is not a journalistic standard of ‘Is this a word-for-word quote?’ I’m not asking to be held to that standard and I’m certainly not representing my film as that. The standard is more, ‘Is this more or less in the ballpark?’”

2) Torture did not help find Osama bin Laden. This is established by the public record and verified by people who have access to classified information. For example, yesterday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) sent this letter to the head of Sony Entertainment with citations pointing out that torture and other abuses did not help find Osama bin Laden.

3) The most important point is this: torture is immoral, always unlawful, and never permitted. Torture and ill-treatment are unequivocally prohibited under the U.S. Constitution and under international law. No derogation or exceptional circumstances can be invoked as justification for torture or ill-treatment. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) put it this way:

“The issue isn’t ‘Does torture work or not.’ The issue is ‘Is torture right, or is torture wrong?’ And the answer to that is torture is wrong.”

The question now: What can be done to ensure that torture and other ill-treatment are never again used by or on behalf of the U.S. government?

Help tell the truth about torture. Hand out this Fact Sheet: Torture & Osama bin Laden at screenings of Zero Dark Thirty.

At the end of Zero Dark Thirty, the CIA analyst is asked “Where do you want to go?”

We should each ask ourselves that same question. Do we want the United States to continue to violate human rights with impunity in the name of a never-ending and vaguely defined “global war”—detention without charge, unlawful killings with drones, extreme solitary confinement and unfair trials—for the rest of our lives and the rest of our children’s lives?

Or will we say “enough” and embrace security with human rights and the rule of law?

 

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#India- In Custody: Five Years in Jail and Innocent #sedition #dissent #Prison #Justice

  • January 15, 2013, 

    By Michael Edison Hayden, Wall street journal, India 

Roberto Schmidt/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
A man peeked through an opening of a door to a prison ward at the Tihar jail, New Delhi, April 26, 2012.

This week, India Real Time presents an in-depth look at the country’s prison and custody system.

It is a system that still carries many attributes of its origins in British-run colonial India, and gives a high degree of discretion to how state governments apply the penal code — and who ends up behind bars, whether serving prison sentences, or in temporary army or police custody.

Experts note that the national government, over decades, hasn’t funded the expansion of the prison system to meet the increasing ranks of prisoners. In part, those ranks have increased because India’s court system is backlogged with 65% of India’s 240,000 people in jail yet to face a verdict in court, according to government data. They also point to allegations of abuse in army custody, which the army denies. 

In four chapters this week, India Real Time will examine different aspects of life under custody, as well as attempts to improve it. They include the experience of those facing trial as well as efforts being made to promote rehabilitation over punishment.

Arun Ferreira
Pictured, Arun Ferreira.

MUMBAI, India – When Arun Ferreira went to prison in 2007, his son was only two. Today, they are reunited, and a tide of private anguish has at last begun to roll back and wash away.

“My family didn’t tell him that I was in jail, they told him I was away on business for five years,” Mr. Ferreira says.

“Today, my son still doesn’t believe it. Recently, he saw a picture of Nelson Mandela somewhere. I explained who he was, and then I mentioned [what happened to me], and he thought I was fibbing.”

On an unusually sunny afternoon during monsoon season in the residential neighborhood of Bandra, Mr. Ferreira is gracious and funny as we sit in a local coffee shop to discuss his experience in jail. Mr. Ferreira was arrested under the auspices that he was a Maoist rebel, planning to blow up the Deekshabhoomi Complex, a monument in the town of Nagpur, where the Dalit icon Ambedkar is believed to have embraced Buddhism for the first time. Mr. Ferreira spent most of the following roughly four years and a half years in Nagpur’s Central Jail.

The Communist Party of India (Maoist), are also known as Naxalites, a reference to the West Bengal town of Naxalbari, where their movement began. Started as a left wing political group in the 1940s, in the 1960s they launched an armed struggle against the Indian government, which they have been violently opposing ever since.

Their largest support base comes from local tribes who seek to retain their land resisting industrial interests. In 2006, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh famously described Naxalism as “the single biggest internal security challenge ever faced by our country.” Members of the group could not be reached.

Mr. Ferreira was charged with attacking a police station, firing on police, and booked under the Unlawful Activities Act of 2004, a law created to bolster security against possible terrorist attacks.

Mr. Ferreira claims he was held for organizing slum-dwellers to unite in protest against the demolition of their homes. Such demolitions are a frequent source of strife here in Mumbai, often pitting poorer locals against police and property developers. Mr. Ferreira is currently out on bail and contesting two additional charges – allegations that he illicitly possessed arms and fired on police – that were leveled against him by plain-clothes officers during his time of awaiting trial in Nagpur. Mr. Ferreira denies any wrongdoing.

The Wall Street Journal
Source: National Crime Records Bureau

In Sept. 2011, a court ruled that Mr. Ferreira was innocent of all eight of the charges that were placed against him, over four years and eight months after his initial arrest.

Justice Hosbet Suresh, 83, is a former judge of the Mumbai High Court whose experience working inside the system has driven him, during his retirement years, to become an advocate for prisoners’ rights. He says that India’s slow trials are being made even slower by a lack of judicial manpower.

“There are simply not enough judges to handle all of the cases,” says Mr. Suresh. “We just have too few of them relative to the population here.”

According to the Indian Bar Association, as of 2010, there were over 30 million cases pending in courts across India due in large part to a ratio of 11 judges per million people. This leaves India with a persistent backlog of cases waiting to be heard.

As a result, “more than half of the prison population here is under trial,” Mr. Suresh estimates.

The Wall Street Journal
A graphic showing total inmates segregated by convicts, detainees and undertrial.

It’s a lot more than half: The most recent survey conducted by the National Crimes Record Bureau, a government agency, found that as many as 64.7% of Indian prisoners have not yet been convicted. And while prisoners who are ultimately convicted will see their time spent in jail while waiting for trial reduced from their sentence, such provisions provide very little consolation to the innocent, like Mr. Ferreira.

For some it’s even worse: According to the study, 1,486 under trial prisoners, or 0.6% % of the total, had been jailed for five years without having had a single day in court.

Another reason prisoners sometimes wait years for their trial is that, according to government data, the majority of those arrested are too poor to afford bail and legal counsel.

India lacks a federal department of prisons, like that of the United States. Instead, prisons are a responsibility of individual states, although the ministry of law lays out broad guidelines on how to administer them.

Mr. Ferreira believes his politics may have played a role in his prolonged detention. He says he was shuffled between several different facilities during his time at Nagpur Central. He spent his first year in the high security Anda barrack, and his final two years were spent in what’s known as the Gunah Khana, or punishment cells.

In between that time, Mr. Ferreira says he was placed with convicts in the Phasi yard. The Phasi yard is the gallows; it’s where death row inmates are kept. Mr. Ferreira says that guards told him that he was placed there for being a security threat.

When I reached out to Nagpur Central Jail, a senior official said the prison does not comment on the cases of specific inmates. The official added that it is the policy of the prison to keep convicts and prisoners who are under trials separated in adherence with the law. According to Mr. Ferreira’s account, he found himself rubbing shoulders with those convicted of the 1993 bomb blasts that rocked Mumbai, and with the perpetrators of the Kherlanji massacre of 2006, where Dalit men and women were slaughtered by upper caste Hindus.  He had little choice but to remain calm and do his best not to draw attention to himself for that entire year. A spokesman for Nagpur Central Jail declined to comment on Mr. Ferreira’s allegations.

 

– Vibhuti Agarwal contributed to this post.

Michael Edison Hayden is an American writer currently living in Mumbai. 

 

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Dear Parents, Have you told your son about rape? #Vaw #Sex #love

January 11, 2013

Following the sensational GS Road molestation case in Assam last year, blogger Local Tea Party wrote a blog post about what to tell your son on rape. 

You do one thing. First you grow up. Because, if you grow up means, automatically your son will grow up. And when your son is growing up, give him a pack of condoms. Now don’t give that confused look and all. Seriously, give him a pack of condoms. Along with that, give him a lot of free advice. Don’t think that he won’t take it. Give it anyway, he will eventually take it.

Tell your son to go out with the girls. Tell him to give them hugs and high-fives and ask them to go out on day trips and have fun. Tell him that it is not important to get married before having sex and that if he feels like it, ask him to use that condom you just gave him. Tell him that the Health and Glow shop anyway has lots of varieties of them near the cash counter itself and that he need not be embarrassed to go buy them if he has to. No one will notice.

Tell him that he can talk about sex in your presence. And that you will not feel embarrassed about it.

Tell your son that it is okay to watch pornography. Don’t ask him to watch it when you are around and all, that will be indecent, but still tell him that there is nothing wrong in watching two adults in action.

Tell your son to read erotic fiction and have some fun. In fact, if possible, you only give a copy of the Kamasutra to him. He won’t understand any of it anyway, but still give it to him. Or try Harold Robbins.

Ask him to log on to Chatrooms and have sex chat with a random girl on the other end. It could be a guy pretending to be a girl, but still that and all doesn’t matter. Ask him to have it nevertheless.

Ask him to do sexting with this girlfriend, but tell him to do it discreetly. Tell him it is ok to have phone sex with her and that even if you overhear something from his room, tell him that you will pretend you have not heard anything. Promise him you won’t embarrass him.

Tell him to fall in love with a woman (or a man). Tell him to go head-over-heels (or something like that) about her. Tell him to admire her beauty. Actually, tell him to admire the beauty of all women. Tell him that they are single most source of joy on the planet and that without them the world is nothing. Tell him to make love to a woman in a manner that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Tell him to relax and enjoy sex.

But before you do ANY of the above,

Tell him what they show on National Geographic Channel. Tell him that male animals don’t have sex without the permission of the female animal. Tell him that it is a shame to touch a woman without her permission. Tell him that it is a failure on your part and on the way you have brought him up. Tell him that it is a failure to his manhood.

Tell him that real life pornography requires her permission. Tell him that if a woman agrees, no amount of erotica can match a woman’s passion. But ask him to wait for the woman to agree first.

Tell him that a woman is a human being. Just like him. Not a piece of object. Tell him that while it is ok to admire her beauty, grabbing her body parts without her permission is worse than stealing food from rabies-ridden street dog. Tell him that just because he possesses a penis, it does not give him the right to mate with every vagina in the vicinity automatically.

Tell him that even broken hearts can be mended but he cannot break a woman’s dignity at any cost.

Tell him that raping is a sin for which man will have to pay a heavy price. A very heavy price.

Courtesy: The Local Tea Party

 

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#Soni Sori Vs Police Thana #Poem #Vaw

SONI5

सोनी सॉरी VS पोलीस थाना

सोनी सॉरी एक नारी है ,
आदिवासी होने की मारी है ,

जिसमे उसपर ज़ुल्म किया ,
वो जैल का अधिकारी है ..

इज़्ज़त तार तार किया सारा ,
पीसा , कुचला . जानवर सा मारा,
राक्षस की रूह को फिर धारा,
जानवर सा बलात्कार किया ,
उस बेसहारा !

कैसा ये सरकारी ख़ाता है ,
जो शिकायत ले थाने जाता है ,
अपनी आप बीती बताता है ,
मदद की गुहार लगाता है ,
वो आदिवासी कहलाता है ,
बेशर्म ! उसे ही नक्सली बताता है …

अपना ख़ाता साफ रखा ,
सब control है !! जनाब !!
यह report दिखा !
26 जनवरी को लाल किले आ ,
प्रधान मंत्री को सलाम किया ,
पोलीस मेडल वही राक्षस ,
वही ले गया !!

सोनी सॉरी धकके खाती है ,
जैल से क्रांति चलती है ,
सबको क्रांति के लिए जागती है ,
अपना सच जैसे तैसे बतलाती है,
देश के अंधे क़ानून से ,
इंसाफ़ की गुहार लगाती है …

उठो ,
जागो ,
कमर कसो ,
इस छेदो वाली छाननी का ,
क्रांति से हर छेद भरो !!

@ राहुल योगी देवेश्वर

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#India- The Power of Shame #delhigangrape #Vaw

 

December 31, 2012, sarai.net

 

By Saroj Giri

‘National shame’, lajja – this is the sentiment most Indians feel, now that the raped girl has died. The rape has so far been essentially portrayed as a heinous but aberrant crime, a deviant behavior which apparently did not follow from the kind of society we inhabit. So, why should we, the entire society, feel the shame? This only means that shame has burst through exposing all the denials and attempts to contain the enormity of the problem and just make it a case requiring strong laws. Shame has come upon Indian society in spite of itself. Society as a whole stands implicated – this is what the sentiment of shame entails.

Shame, said Marx, is a revolutionary sentiment. Shame is introspective, loosens the inner resistance one can put up against looking into oneself. Now Indians might be willing to look into their society, their family, their institutions, their day to day life, their values, their civilization, their ethos, their human relations – and locate the recesses of patriarchal domination in them all. Indian society today, that real society where violence against women is normal, almost casual, and where love towards women is deeply patriarchal, seems to have loosened itself up a bit. It appears far less confident about its claims, its self-lauding proclamations. Its defences are down – a rare occasion. It is caught offguard today. It cannot act as though violence against women is only an external problem, exceptional and a deviation from ‘our’ social norms.

When Frantz Fanon revealed the horrors of French colonialism, Sartre pointed out that the French, even the liberal and humane ones, should feel shame. Feel ashamed. Similarly instead of pointing the fingers to this or that minister or the police or some such particular agency or authority as responsible for rape, society should open itself up for introspection. What will be revealed is simple: an out and out patriarchal society, male domination and female subjugation.

This shame has forced a realization even in the mainstream media. Here is the Times of India: “The Delhi gang-rape victim succumbed to her injuries at a Singapore hospital on Saturday morning. The death of 23-year-old Nirbhaya (a name given to her by TOI) not only leaves us sad and heightens our sense of outrage, but also makes it important for all of us to focus now on the real reason behind her agony — the lack of respect for women in our patriarchal society” (Dec 30, 2012).

‘Lack of respect for women’, ‘patriarchal society’ – the right noises are being made. The right noises are being heard. From this ‘real reason’ of course the media being media goes on to suggest that people take a pledge to individually refrain from engaging in violence against women. There is a problem here. For this ‘pledge thing’ again tries to turn the focus away from the internal power relations that constitute this society, the relations of domination through which most men relate to women in this society.

So people are introspecting. They are on their own making all the connections – putting two and two together. They seem to be secretly sensing that the capital punishment and death to the rapists will only serve to shield society, cover up its true character. ‘India’s daughter’ precipitated a process where the accusing finger can also slowly turn towards ‘India’. Every family, every bastion of patriarchy, every woman within the family, every ‘victim’ of patriarchy, is following ‘the news’ – and getting inspired to raise new questions and not just provide ready solutions about ‘preventing rape’.

‘India Rising’
So the question: will shame be the signage, the starting point for the movement against patriarchy? Or will it be, in the name of ‘fighting rape’, another addition to the Indian nation’s list of ‘fighting untouchability’, ‘fighting poverty’, ‘fighting communalism’.

Indeed ‘fighting rape’ might, I fear, soon enter the lexicon of the ‘tough administrator’ Narendra Modi vying to be Prime Minister. In surmising this I thought I was only being a slightly paranoid leftie – till I saw some placards at the protests.
Stop Sexual Terrorism, it said. Rape as sexual terrorism, like a bomb blast! Rape is here externalized, like terrorism from across the borders, an evil enemy which attacks your good society.

I can already hear those like Chetan Bhagat saying how this is ‘new India rising’ – how the youth are not willing to take all this lax laws and all this disruption of life in a decent society, this kind of barbaric treatment of our upwardly mobile women. ‘New India’, ‘India Rising’, by invoking the hyperbole of capital punishment against rape, secretly reinscribes the myth of an essentially good society – ‘Indian values’. After anti-corruption, is ‘fighting rape’ the new cause of the self-righteous, self-aggrandising upper middle classes? This moment of shame will provide the long overdue antidote to the self-righteous middle classes and at least lessen their confidence and aggression, slow them down.

The initial outrage

The protests however were initially not in a mood to feel this shame, not in a mood to introspect. They started off dominated by the feeling of outrage.
Outrage has a target – Shiela Dixit, the Home Minister, Delhi Police, private bus operators. It functions with an accusing finger towards something external. It is essentially non-introspective. To start with, the protests against rape had this basic tendency to regard rape as having nothing to do with the patriarchal power relations that constitute society. Instead rape is located in something external, external to an essentially good society – it is a deviation, a crime, a criminal act to be explained by say the rapist’s ‘psychology’ but not by the tissue of social relations. Rape as a result of a criminal and sick mindset rather than what would follow from the gendered power relations that constitute this society we inhabit.

So the ‘prevention of rape’ does not involve transformation of society. It can be achieved by delegating responsibility to an authority which stands at a remove from society. So ministers and police must fix this problem for the smooth functioning of this society. This delegation meant exoneration of society, of precisely that society where patriarchy is felt and sensed every moment. Rendering this society invisible! To achieve this feat, it had to generate its own histrionics, high drama, extreme emotions, extreme everything – the smokescreen of ‘death to the rapists’. ‘Hang the rapists’ and leave society as it is – this is the motto. The mythical good society must be left unquestioned.

So here violence against women is not always already happening, not already foretold. It ‘takes place’. It is an incident – when, where, who. This is the way violence against women is rendered contingent, exceptional, forever an aberration – it just so happened. It took place on that night of Dec 16th 2012. It takes place every other day, or the same day some other place, or perhaps every hour – but each is a separate case. Each can be explained by referring to the ‘background’ of those individuals involved. ‘They were from the slum area’. The bus in which the girl was travelling did not have proper licenses. They were ‘those types’.

Society here sits as the judge and takes the moral high ground – it exonerates itself. What is rendered invisible is the thousand and one ways in which the rape and violence against women are mandated by ‘society’ – from female infanticide, to bride burning, to dowry deaths, to sexual harassment, to getting groped in the metro, to rape within marriage, to honour killings… The list is endless. Not just the violence – even the love and care reserved for women is laden with inscription of male power. The ideal wife, the ideal daughter, the respectable woman, adarsh bharatiya nari, the super mom – these are notions, tendencies and inclinations that constantly push women towards precarity, a lack of confidence, a fear, an anxiety. These are indeed sometimes more dangerous than the committed ‘crimes’.

So the outrage overlooked all of this. And yet this outrage gave way to shame. This shame might inspire a movement which could irrigate the veins and arteries of resistance against patriarchy in the street, in the family, in the bedroom. It might lead to social critique. It might allow women to go beyond merely fighting for basic safety and security. It might, indeed must, allow them to freely assert their powers and desires, their thoughts and their sexuality.

Today women are on the defensive, seeking to be the beneficiaries of protection accorded by an essentially male dominated society. This is extremely infantilizing. Even if this movement might succeed this might not change. In fact it might actively contribute to this infantalising – women might be ‘safe’ and infantilized. For example, if Delhi Police gets better in protecting women from sexual attacks then will women also be obliged to follow some of the ‘do’s and don’ts’ put up by the police? Will this enhance or lessen women’s agency?

Social evil?
So how will this shame be mobilized? Should feminists now work with the government to help make good laws? Feminists might proceed by laying the statistics of so many other kinds of violence against women: bride burning, dowry deaths, sexual harassment and so on. Feminists might provide the inputs to good policy formulation. But will these inputs only mean that in this era of targeted policy making, patriarchy would start getting ‘measured’ in terms of ‘affected groups’ or stake-holders and the benefits they should get? If we demand so much protection from the police, then will women also be obliged to abide by some of the rules ‘for your own safety’ that Delhi Police might frame?

 

Too many voices are calling for ‘strong laws and speedy justice’ to deter rapists, a call for a strong state. Perhaps a technocratic or security-centric solution is in the offing. If not this, another bad option that might impose itself is to adopt an approach of something like ‘the unfinished task of social reform’ carried over from the 19th century. So, like fighting sati, or widow remarriage, or untouchability, violence against women will be identified as a social evil. Yes it is a ‘social evil’. But is violence against women, like untouchability, a malignant growth in an otherwise healthy ‘social body’, as Gandhi would have it? Or is it intrinsic to the ‘social body’?

 

It is not to a cool and calm deliberation for policy formulation that this shame must lead to. What we need is a much more enriched rage, now carrying the moment of shame, of social critique. The narrow focus of the rage – ministers, police, strong laws – must now give way to taking account of how this rage must also be directed against the manner in which rape and violence against women is routinely deployed by none other than the state itself. Just check out the reports coming from the North East, in Kashmir and elsewhere. Or the rape of over 30 women by the Rajasthan Rifles in Kunan Poshpora. Or the gruesome rape and murder of Dalit women in Khairlanji. This list is very long. These are neither the result of an exception, bad policing nor a social evil. It is instead a well calculated strategy to inscribe the power of the state through patriarchal violence.

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IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Statement condemning sexual violence and opposing #deathpenalty

STATEMENT BY WOMEN’S AND PROGRESSIVE GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS CONDEMNING

SEXUAL VIOLENCE

AND

OPPOSING DEATH PENALTY

On 16 December, 2012, a 23-year old woman and her friend hailed a bus at a crossing in South Delhi. In the bus, they were both brutally attacked by a group of men who claimed to be out on a ‘joy-ride’. The woman was gang raped and the man beaten up; after several hours, they were both stripped and dumped on the road. While the young woman is still in hospital, bravely battling for her life, her friend has been discharged and is helping identify the men responsible for the heinous crime.

We, the undersigned, women’s, students’ and progressive groups and concerned citizens from around the country, are outraged at this incident and, in very strong terms, condemn her gang rape and the physical and sexual assault.

As our protests spill over to the streets all across the country, our demands for justice are strengthened by knowing that there are countless others who share this anger. We assert that rape and other forms of sexual violence are not just a women’s issue, but a political one that should concern every citizen. We strongly demand that justice is done in this and all other cases and the perpetrators are punished.

This incident is not an isolated one; sexual assault occurs with frightening regularity in this country. Adivasi and dalit women and those working in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, trans people and sex workers are especially targeted with impunity – it is well known that the complaints of sexual assault they file are simply disregarded. We urge that the wheels of justice turn not only to incidents such as the Delhi bus case, but to the epidemic of sexual violence that threatens all of us. We need to evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large number of men who commit these crimes. Our stance is not anti-punishment but against the State executing the death penalty. The fact that cases of rape have a conviction rate of as low as 26% shows that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of charges.

Silent witnesses to everyday forms of sexual assault such as leering, groping, passing comments, stalking and whistling are equally responsible for rape being embedded in our culture and hence being so prevalent today. We, therefore, also condemn the culture of silence and tolerance for sexual assault and the culture of valorising this kind of violence.

We also reject voices that are ready to imprison and control women and girls under the garb of ‘safety’, instead of ensuring their freedom as equal participants in society and their right to a life free of perpetual threats of sexual assault, both inside and outside their homes.

 

In cases (like this) which have lead to a huge public outcry all across the country, and where the perpetrators have been caught, we hope that justice will be speedily served and they will be convicted for the ghastly acts that they have committed. However, our vision of this justice does not include death penalty, which is neither a deterrent nor an effective or ethical response to these acts of sexual violence. We are opposed to it for the following reasons:

1.    We recognise that every human being has a right to life. Our rage cannot give way to what are, in no uncertain terms, new cycles of violence. We refuse to deem ‘legitimate’ any act of violence that would give the State the right to take life in our names. Justice meted by the State cannot bypass complex socio-political questions of violence against women by punishing rapists by death. Death penalty is often used to distract attention away from the real issue – it changes nothing but becomes a tool in the hands of the State to further exert its power over its citizens. A huge set of changes are required in the system to end the widespread and daily culture of rape.

2.    There is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to rape. Available data shows that there is a low rate of conviction in rape cases and a strong possibility that the death penalty would lower this conviction rate even further as it is awarded only under the ‘rarest of rare’ circumstances. The most important factor that can act as a deterrent is the certainty of punishment, rather than the severity of its form.

3.    As seen in countries like the US, men from minority communities make up a disproportionate number of death row inmates. In the context of India, a review of crimes that warrant capital punishment reveals the discriminatory way in which such laws are selectively and arbitrarily applied to disadvantaged communities, religious and ethnic minorities. This is a real and major concern, as the possibility of differential consequences for the same crime is injustice in itself.

4.    The logic of awarding death penalty to rapists is based on the belief that rape is a fate worse than death. Patriarchal notions of ‘honour’ lead us to believe that rape is the worst thing that can happen to a woman. There is a need to strongly challenge this stereotype of the ‘destroyed’ woman who loses her honour and who has no place in society after she’s been sexually assaulted. We believe that rape is tool of patriarchy, an act of violence, and has nothing to do with morality, character or behaviour.

5.    An overwhelming number of women are sexually assaulted by people known to them, and often include near or distant family, friends and partners. Who will be able to face the psychological and social trauma of having reported against their own relatives? Would marital rape (currently not recognised by law), even conceptually, ever be looked at through the same retributive prism?

6.    The State often reserves for itself the ‘right to kill’ — through the armed forces, the paramilitary and the police. We cannot forget the torture, rape and murder of ThangjamManoramaby the Assam Rifles in Manipur in 2004 or the abduction, gang rape and murder of Neelofar and Aasiya of Shopian (Kashmir) in 2009.Giving more powers to the State, whether arming the police and giving them the right to shoot at sight or awarding capital punishment, is not a viable solution to lessen the incidence of crime.
Furthermore, with death penalty at stake, the ‘guardians of the law’ will make sure that no complaints against them get registered and they will go to any length to make sure that justice does not see the light of day. The ordeal of Soni Sori, who had been tortured in police custody last year, still continues her fight from inside aprison in Chattisgarh, in spite of widespread publicity around her torture.

7.    As we know, in cases of sexual assault where the perpetrator is in a position of power (such as in cases of custodial rapeor caste and religionviolence), conviction is notoriously difficult. The death penalty, for reasons that have already been mentioned, would make conviction next to impossible.

We, the undersigned, demand the following:

  • Greater dignity, equality, autonomy and rights for women and girls from a society that should stop questioning and policing their actions at every step.
  • Immediate relief in terms of legal, medical, financial and psychological assistance and long-term rehabilitation measures must be provided to survivors of sexual assault.
  • Provision of improved infrastructure to make cities safer for women, including well-lit pavements and bus stops, help lines and emergency services.
  • Effective registration, monitoring and regulation of transport services (whether public, private or contractual) to make them safe, accessible and available to all.
  • Compulsory courses within the training curriculum on gender sensitisation for all personnel employed and engaged by the State in its various institutions, including the police.
  • That the police do its duty to ensure that public spaces are free from harassment, molestation and assault. This means that they themselves have to stop sexually assaulting women who come to make complaints. They have to register all FIRs and attend to complaints. CCTV cameras should be set up in all police stations and swift action must be taken against errant police personnel.
  • Immediate setting up of fast track courts for rape and other forms of sexual violence all across the country. State governments should operationalise their creation on a priority basis. Sentencing should be done within a period of six months.
  • The National Commission for Women has time and again proved itself to be an institution that works against the interests of women. NCW’s inability to fulfil its mandate of addressing issues of violence against women, the problematic nature of the statements made by the Chairperson and its sheer inertia in many serious situations warrants that the NCW role be reviewed and auditedas soon as possible.
  • The State acknowledges the reality of custodial violence against women in many parts of the country, especially in Kashmir, North-East and Chhattisgarh. There are several pending cases and immediate action should be taken by the government to punish the guilty and to ensure that these incidents of violence are not allowed to be repeated.
  • Regarding the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, women’s groups have already submitted detailed recommendations to the Home Ministry. We strongly underline that the Bill must not be passed in its current form because of its many serious loopholes and lacuna. Some points:

–      There has been no amendment to the flawed definition of consent under Sec 375IPC and this has worked against the interest of justice for women.

–      The formulation of the crime of sexual assault as gender neutralmakes the identity of the perpetrator/accused also gender neutral. We demand that the definition of perpetrator be gender-specific and limited to men. Sexual violence also targets transgender people and legal reform must address this.

–      In its current form, the Bill does not recognise the structural and graded nature of sexual assault, based on concepts of hurt, harm, injury, humiliation and degradation. The Bill also does not use well-established categories of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and sexual offences.

–      It does not mention sexual assault by security forces as a specific category of aggravated sexual assault. We strongly recommend the inclusion of perpetration of sexual assault by security forces under Sec 376(2).

Endorsed by the following groups and individuals:

 

  • Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault (CCSA)
  • Purnima, Nirantar, New Delhi
  • Sandhya Gokhale, Forum Against Oppression of Women, Bombay
  • Deepti, Saheli, Delhi
  • Mary John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), New Delhi
  • Jagori, Delhi
  • Vimochana, Bangalore
  • Stree Mukti Sanghathan, Delhi
  • Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch
  • Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA, New Delhi
  • Anuradha Kapoor ,Swayam, Calcutta
  • Kalpana Mehta, Manasi Swasthya Sansthan, Indore
  • Nandita Gandhi, Akshara, Bombay
  • Indira, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression, (WSS), New Delhi
  • National Alliance of people’s Movements (NAPM)
  • Mallika, Maati, Uttarakhand
  • Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
  • GRAMEENA MAHILA Okkutta, Karnataka
  • WinG Assam
  • Arati Chokshi, PUCL, Bangalore.
  • Action India, Delhi
  • Majlis Law, Legal Services for Women, Mumbai
  • Sahiayar (Stree Sangathan), Vadodara, Gujarat
  • Vasanth Kannabiran (NAWO, AP) Asmita
  • Sheba George, SAHRWARU
  • SAMYAK, Pune
  • Shabana Kazi, VAMP
  • Sruti disAbility Rights Centre, Kolkata
  • Forum to Engage Men (FEM), New Delhi
  • MASVAW( Men Action for stopping Violence Against Women), UP
  • Breakthrough, New Delhi
  • V Rukmini Rao, Gramya Resource Centre for Women, Secunderabad
  • LABIA, a queer feminist LBT collective, Mumbai
  • Law Trust, Tamil Nadu
  • Men’s Action to Stop Violence agaisnt Women (MASVAW), UP
  • National Forum for Single Women’s Rights
  • NAWO-AP, Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Welfare Society (APWWS)
  • Indigenous Women’s Resource Centre (IWRC)
  • New Socialist Initiative, Delhi
  • Gabriele Dietrich, Pennurimai Iyakkam
  • Sangat, a South Asian Feminist Network
  • Stree Mukti Sanghatana, Mumbai
  • SWATI, Ahmedabad
  • Tamil Nadu Women Fish Workers Forum
  • Subhash Mendhapurkar,SUTRA, H.P.
  • Mario, Nigah, queer collective, New Delhi
  • Sushma Varma, Samanatha Mahila Vedike, Bangalore
  • Priti Darooka, PWESCR (The Programme on Women’s Economic,Social and Cultural Rights), New Delhi
  • Pushpa Achanta (WSS, Karnataka)
  • AWN, Kabul
  • AZAD and Sakha Team, Delhi
  • Ekta, Madurai
  • Empower People
  • Vrinda Grover
  • Chayanika Shah, Bombay
  • Aruna Roy
  • Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships, Gurgaon
  • Nandini Rao
  • Pratiksha Baxi
  • Amrita Nandy
  • Farah Naqvi, Writer & Activist, Delhi
  • Nivedita Menon
  • Urvashi Butalia
  • Kaveri R I, Bengaluru
  • Dunu Roy
  • Harsh Mander
  • Anil TV
  • Laxmi Murthy, Journalist, Bangalore
  • Rahul Roy
  • Rituparna Borah, queer feminist activist
  • Ranjana Padhi, New Delhi
  • Trupti Shah, Vadodara, Gujarat
  • Vasanth Kannabiran
  • Sudha Bharadwaj
  • Veena Shatrugna,  Hyderabad
  • Kamayani Bali Mahabal
  • Kiran Shaheen, Journalist and activist
  • Lesley A Esteves, journalist, New Delhi
  • devangana kalita, assam
  • Aruna Burte
  • Anita Ghai
  • Mohan Rao, New Delhi
  • Rakhi Sehgal, New Delhi
  • Geetha Nambisan
  • Charan Singh, New Delhi
  • Manjima Bhattacharjya
  • Jinee Lokaneeta,Associate professor, Drew University, Madison, NJ
  • Kavita Panjabi, Jadavpur University, Kolkata
  • Albertina almeida, Goa
  • Satyajit Rath, New Delhi
  • Prerna Sud, New Delhi
  • Priya Sen, New Delhi
  • Aarthi Pai, Bangalore
  • Kalpana Vishwanath, Gurgaon
  • Aisha K. Gill, Reader, University of Roehampton, London
  • Ammu Abraham, Mumbai
  • Anagha Sarpotdar, Activist and PhD Student, Mumbai
  • Anand Pawar
  • Anuradha Marwah, Ajmer Adult Education Association (AAEA), Ajmer
  • Asha Ramesh, activist/researcher/consultant
  • Bondita
  • Gauri Gill, New delhi
  • Sophia Khan, Gujarat
  • Niranjani Iyer, Chennai
  • Dyuti Ailawadi
  • Gandimathi Alagar
  • Gayatri Buragohain – Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT), New Delhi
  • Geetha Nambisan, Delhi
  • Sadhna Arya, New Delhi
  • Vineeta Bal, New Delhi
  • Suneeta Dhar
  • Geeta Ramaseshan, Advocate, Chennai
  • Sonal Sharma, New delhi
  • Anusha Hariharan, Delhi/Chennai
  • Jayasree.A.K,
  • Gautam Bhan, New Delhi
  • Jayasree Subramanian, TISS,Hyderabad
  • Jhuma Sen, Advocate, Supreme Court
  • Teena Gill, New Delhi
  • Kannamma Raman
  • Karuna D W
  • Kavita Panjabi
  • Shalini Krishan, New Delhi
  • Lalita Ramdas, Secunderabad
  • Manasi Pingle
  • Madhumita Dutta, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • Manoj Mitta
  • Pamela Philipose
  • Parul Chaudhary
  • Preethi Herman
  • Sunil Gupta, New Delhi
  • Radha Khan
  • Rama Vedula
  • Rebecca John
  • Renu Khanna, SAHAJ
  • Rohini Hensman (Writer and Activist, Bombay)
  • Rohit Prajapati, Environmental activist, Gujarat
  • Roshmi Goswami
  • Shipra Nigam, Consultant Economist, Research and Information Systems, New Delhi
  • Shipra Deo, Agribusiness Systems International Vamshakti, Pratapgarh
  • Rukmini Datta
  • Sridala Swami
  • Sarba Raj Khadka, Kathmandu
  • Satish K. Singh, CHSJ
  • Shinkai Karokhail, from the Afghanistan Parliament
  • Sima Samar, Kabul
  • Smita Singh, FTII, Pune
  • Subhalakshmi Nandi
  • Sujata Gothoskar
  • Swar Thounaojam
  • Inayat Sabhikhi
  • Jaya Vindhyala, Hyderabad

 

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Call for action: Kick #Vedanta out of London for it’s corporate crimes, murder and destruction. @Jan 11, 2013

Declare solidarity with grassroots movements fighting Vedanta in India, Africa and elsewhere!

Kick Vedanta out of London for it’s corporate crimes, murder and destruction.

Noise demonstration and picket at Vedanta headquarters, 16 Berkeley Street.
Mayfair, W1J 8DZ . Green Park tube.

1 – 3pm. Friday 11th January., 2013 


On Friday 11th January the Supreme Court will finally announce its historical decision on whether to allow the mining of the threatened Niyamgiri mountain in Odisha, India(1). Simultaneously tribals and farmers from a number of grassroots organisations(2) will hold a rally of defiance in Bhawanipatna, near the mountain. They will call for closure of the sinking Lanjigarh refinery and an absolute ban on the so-far-unsuccessful attempt to mine bauxite on their sacred hills(3).

On 10th of January activists in New York will rally outside the United Nations Headquarters pointing out Vedanta’s clear violations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including right to participate in decision making, right to water and cultural and religious rights. They will call for the Indian Government to put a final stop to this contested project, and for the state owned Orissa Mining Corporation to be pulled out of dodgy deals it has made with Vedanta in an attempt to force the mine through the courts on Vedanta’s behalf.

Here in London we will draw attention to Vedanta’s nominal Mayfair headquarters from which they gain a cloak of respectability and easy access to capital. We will call for Vedanta to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange and thrown out of its cosy position in the London corporate elite for proven human rights and environmental abuses, corruption and poor corporate governance(4).

Please join us and bring drums, pots and pans and anything that makes noise!
Our solidarity demo on 6th Dec was covered in all the Indian papers and our solidarity was felt directly. Let us do it again!
See you there! More information below.

More information:

(1) The Supreme Court is due to make a final decision on the challenge posed to the Environment Ministry’s stop to the Niyamgiri mine on 11th January. In its December 6th hearing the Supreme Court concluded that the case rested on whether the rights of the indigenous Dongia Kond’s – who live exclusively on that mountain – could be considered ‘inalienable or compensatory’. The previous ruling by Environment and Forests minister Jairam Ramesh in August 2010 prevented Vedanta from mining the mountain due to violations of environment and forestry acts. The challenge to this ruling has been mounted by the Orissa Mining Corporation, a state owned company with 24% shares in the joint venture to mine Niyamgiri with Vedanta, begging questions about why a state company is lobbying so hard for a British mining company in whom it has only minority shares in this small project. (see http://infochangeindia.org/environment/features/niyamgiri-a-temporary-reprieve.html)

On 6th December, in anticipation of a final Supreme Court ruling, more than 5000 tribals and farmers rallied on the Niyamgiri mountain and around the Lanjigarh refinery sending a message that they would not tolerate the mine or the refinery. In London Foil Vedanta held a noise demo outside the Indian High Commission in which a pile of mud was dumped in the entrance. This news was carried all over India by major papers and TV and had a significant impact (see London protesters join 5000 in India to stop mine).

(2) Niyamgiri Surakhya Samiti, Sachetana Nagarika Mancha, Loka Sangram Mancha, Communist Party of India and Samajwadi Jan Parishad will coordinate the rally in Odisha on the 11th Jan.

(3) The Lanjigargh refinery was built at the base of Niyamgiri and assessed for environmental and social impact without taking into account the intention to mine the hill above for bauxite to run the plant. However, obtaining permission to mine the mountain has been much more difficult than Vedanta supposed and has left them running Lanjigarh at a loss, leaving Vedanta Aluminium with accumulated debt of $3.65 billion. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-27/vedanta-awaits-bauxite-to-revive-9-billion-aluminum-project.html)

(4) Vedanta was described in Parliament by Labour MP Lisa Nandy as ‘one of the companies that have been found guilty of gross violations of human rights’ . Ms Nandy in her speech quoted Richard Lambert the former Director General of the CBI: ‘It never occurred to those of us who helped to launch the FTSE 100 index 27 years ago that one day it would be providing a cloak of respectability and lots of passive investors for companies that challenge the canons of corporate governance such as Vedanta…’. Similarly City of London researchers from ‘Trusted Sources’ have noted Vedanta’s reasons for registering in London:

“A London listing allows access to an enormous pool of capital. If you are in the FTSE Index, tracker funds have got to own you and others will follow.” Both Vedanta Resources and Essar Energy are members of the FTSE 100. London’s reputation as a market with high standards of transparency and corporate governance is another draw for Indian companies. Both Vedanta and Essar have faced criticism on corporate governance grounds in India, and a foreign listing is seen as one way to signal to investors that the company does maintain high standards.

We are joining the calls of parliamentarians and financiers in pointing out how the London listing is used for legal immunity and to hide Vedanta’s corporate crimes. We are calling for Vedanta to be de-listed from the London Stock Exchange and taken to court for Human Rights abuses here in London.

Posted: December 14th, 2012 , http://www.foilvedanta.org/

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