Violence against women – two patriarchal judgements: Gargi Mishra and Shreya Munoth

Guest post by GARGI MISHRA AND SHREYA MUNOTH 

Do a woman’s attire, appearance, sexual history or prior relationship with a perpetrator of sexual violence constitute a valid defence for a perpetrator of a sexual offence? Does the meaning of consent vary for educated women? The law, as it stands, doesn’t permit these factors to be taken into account while adjudicating crimes of violence against women nor does it prescribe varying standards. Unfortunately, however, deeply ingrained patriarchal mindsets rear their ugly heads ever so often flouting express statutory proscriptions, most recently demonstrated by two judgments delivered in the last fortnight dealing with rape.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court suspended the sentences of three students granted by the trial court for the rape of another student. The basis for this suspension, amongst others, was the victim’s “misadventures and experiments”, her “promiscuity” and the absence of brutal violence accompanying the sexual assault. Close on the heels of this, the Delhi High Court, on appeal, acquitted Mahmood Farooqui, a filmmaker, overturning the trial court’s verdict of finding him guilty of rape having performed forced oral sex on a visiting woman scholar.  While so doing, the Delhi High Court purposively misinterpreted the position of law on what constitutes consent and seems to have been largely influenced by the victim’s previous relationship with Farooqui, her being educated (a “woman of letters”), the supposed feebleness with which she said ‘no’ to the sexual act, and the fact of Farooqui’s bipolar disorder. Continue reading “Violence against women – two patriarchal judgements: Gargi Mishra and Shreya Munoth”

Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

(This is the text of the open letter written by the eminent left cultural activist Sohail Hashmi to Com. Pinarayi Vijayan on the Hadiya case)

Continue reading “Defend the tradition of fighting for the oppressed: Sohail Hashmi writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala”

Preserve Kerala as the Shining Example of Democracy for India : Prof. Satish Deshpande writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

(This is the text of the open letter from Prof. Satish Deshpande to the Chief Minister of Kerala on the Hadiya issue. Satish’s work Contemporary India, translated as Samakalika India, has been hugely influential in shaping the progressive understanding of Hindutva nationalism and communal hatred in Kerala.)

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The Honourable Chief Minister of Kerala

Shri Pinarayi Vijayan

6th October, 2017

Respected Sir,

Ever since I first came to Kerala in 1981 to study at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) at Thiruvanathapuram, I have been a committed supporter of everything that the left tradition of your great state has achieved by way of democratic innovations in governance and social practice. Even today, I believe that Kerala continues to be a shining example in many spheres where the rest of India lags far behind.

I was therefore shocked to read about the Hadiya case and the tacit and explicit state support that underwrite her virtual house arrest today. I am told that the man that Hadiya has chosen to marry and the organisation with which he is associated may have a questionable past. Whatever be the truth of this matter, the fact is that an adult citizen’s personal choices in matters like marriage cannot be undone by the state no matter how ill-considered that choice may appear to others. Moreover, in the current climate, it is surely not irrelevant that the religion in question is Islam – it is highly unlikely that this case would have attracted any attention if Hadiya had chosen to convert to some other religion.

It is highly embarrassing – to the say the least – that a government led by a party that can claim to have played a major role in transforming Kerala society for the better is today seen to be siding with the reactionary forces.

I appeal to you to use the power vested in you by the people of Kerala to end this travesty of justice and ensure that Hadiya is left free to live her life as she chooses.

With best wishes,

Satish Deshpande

(Professor of Sociology, Delhi University)

Let us rise to the defense of the Indian Constitution: Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister from Prof. Amit Bhaduri

[This is the text of the open letter written by eminent economist and leading development activist Prof. Amit Bhaduri, to Com. Pinarayi Vijayan] Continue reading “Let us rise to the defense of the Indian Constitution: Letter to the Kerala Chief Minister from Prof. Amit Bhaduri”

The Gravity of Newton : Rituparna Sengupta

This is a guest post by RITUPARNA SENGUPTA

 

Amit V Masurkar’s recently-released film Newton explores facets of Indian democracy at its most vulnerable. For these times of ‘nationalist’ bravado, this is a courageous topic.  The film is so named because it adopts for the most part, the point of view of its protagonist, Newton (Nutan) Kumar (Rajkummar Rao, thank you once again!) who resists corruption and hypocrisy at home and work. Continue reading “The Gravity of Newton : Rituparna Sengupta”

Help us resist the Hindutva thought-machine: K Satchidanandan writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala

[This is the text of the open letter written by the eminent poet and public intellectual K Satchidanandan to Com. Pinarayi Vijayan] Continue reading “Help us resist the Hindutva thought-machine: K Satchidanandan writes to the Chief Minister of Kerala”