Tag Archives: kalpana kannabiran

Rise Above Traditional and Conservative Misogyny — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Kalpana Kannabiran

Today morning we woke up to the news that the Child Welfare Committee has ordered that Anupama’s child must be brought to Kerala in five days for a DNA test.

However, the process is still overseen by the officials who directly connived to give the baby away for adoption. The family’s criminal acts are still under a very lax, lagging investigation. Anupama’s educational certificates are still in their possession and the police refuses to intervene to restore them to her.

Indeed, the evil that Prof Kannabiran identifies so excellently in this letter must still be fought, until justice is done. Just the return of the child to Kerala cannot replace justice. Anupama suffered tremendous domestic violence, deliberate endangerment, cheating, and illegal custody at the hands of her family. That cannot be papered over,

Continue reading Rise Above Traditional and Conservative Misogyny — Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala: Kalpana Kannabiran

Cultures of Corruption: Kalpana Kannabiran


We are a country given to idolatry – both the erection and demolition of idols a favourite pastime that buries under the rubble questions of ethics and constitutional morality.   While this penchant for idolatry raises larger questions,  I will concern myself at this point with the effigy (or the idol upside down) called corruption.

While there has undoubtedly been a marked shift in the languages of corruption in the neo liberal era, calling for new and different strategies to combat it, the fight against corruption is not new.  When women’s groups campaigned decades ago against the testing of banned drugs and contraceptives on poor people by the ICMR, the question that was raised was about the nexus between pharmaceutical companies and state actors that involved deals for which poor and vulnerable communities were pushed to the guillotine.  With Bhopal, the question came up again on the deals between multinational companies (Union Carbide in this case) and the government that violated every principle of human rights, natural justice, constitutional morality and the ethics of care in governance.  Was the derailment of justice effected without corruption at every level? Apart from providing care to the affected, was not the struggle for justice in Bhopal a struggle against corruption?  When the People’s War Group (as it was then called) abducted an elected representative two decades ago (who was later released), the reason they gave to the negotiators was that he misused public funds in the district and asserted that theirs was a fight against corrupt representatives.

Continue reading Cultures of Corruption: Kalpana Kannabiran

Compromise in Rape Cases: Whither Constitutional Morality?: Kalpana Kannabiran


The Supreme Court judgement reported in some newspapers on 24 February 2011, legitimizing compromise in rape cases, is cause for serious concern.  For thirty years now human rights groups and women’s groups have fought difficult battles to have rape recognised as a serious offence both in communities and by courts.  Rights advocates have been concerned by the fact that all too often the view of the judiciary converges with the view of the community in seeing women’s sexuality as communally owned property, thus removing any articulation of violence from the crime of rape.

Some years ago, at a workshop of judicial officers, we had one senior officer arguing that if a man found guilty of raping a woman offered to marry her, this offer should be considered as a “mitigating circumstance,” and his sentence reduced to the bare minimum.  That done, since his continuing in jail will be detrimental to his new family life, he should be set at liberty under the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act.  Fortunately in that gathering, the majority of officers, most of them junior to the officer concerned, felt strongly that this is a gross misapplication of the law.  But the existence of the possibility that a judge might actually rationalize the gross misinterpretation of a law as critical to women as this, has far reaching consequences.

Continue reading Compromise in Rape Cases: Whither Constitutional Morality?: Kalpana Kannabiran