The following is a statement by feminist organisations . To add your name to the statement, please sign in the comments section.
In the wake of the protests following the 2012 Delhi gangrape, India had witnessed a welcome sharpening of understanding around sexual violence and consent. Legal reform recognized the principle of affirmative consent – i.e the principle that consent must be nothing short of an unequivocal positive ‘Yes’ (whether through words or gestures) to engage in a sexual act.
In public discourse and popular understanding too, the understanding that ‘No means No’ had been strengthened. Recent Court verdicts and orders have however dealt a deep blow to this hard-won progressive advance.In the wake of the protests following the 2012 Delhi gangrape, India had witnessed a welcome sharpening of understanding around sexual violence and consent. Legal reform recognized the principle of affirmative consent – i.e the principle that consent must be nothing short of an unequivocal positive ‘Yes’ (whether through words or gestures) to engage in a sexual act. In public discourse and popular understanding too, the understanding that ‘No means No’ had been strengthened. Recent Court verdicts and orders have however dealt a deep blow to this hard-won progressive advance.
In a significant move, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has decided to repeal and re-enact Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000. Along with its claims to streamline adoption and foster care procedures, it also proposes that juveniles above 16 years of age involved in heinous crimes should be tried as adults under the Indian Penal Code.
This is not first time that such an amendment has been advocated. One senior leader of ruling party had already gone to the Supreme Court last year with a petition for lowering the age under the law. However his petition was refused and the Supreme Court opined that there was no need for amendment as the present law (JJ act 2000) holds constitutional validity. Now this leader’s party is in power and they do not need to go to the judiciary for changes as they themselves can do it in Parliament. It is also believed that the government is not even waiting for the report of the expert committee appointed by the Law Commission of India to examine the issue. The proposal however, has always been contested by the premier child rights body NCPCR, which said there cannot be any “compromise” on the age of a child as defined by the UN and in other international conventions. We wonder if the governments’ desperation to change the law is based on popular “sentiments” and not on “facts”. Continue reading Need to re-enact Juvenile Justice Act – Myths and Realities: Kishore→
The recent Supreme Court judgment in the case of Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar & Anr. (Criminal Appeal No. 1277 of 2014) has once again brought to light the concern shared by the larger society about the ‘misuse’ of Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code (hereinafter “IPC”) and the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. This concern has been raised many times in the past (and present) and the judiciary has gone to the length of labeling this ‘misuse’, especially that of Section 498-A, IPC, ‘legal terrorism’ (in Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India JT 2005 (6) SC 266.)
However, what has changed this time is that through this judgment the Supreme Court has endorsed and legitimized the common stereotype that women exaggerate and fabricate stories of violence to seek vengeance against their husbands and matrimonial families. Continue reading Women Have Been Branded Liars!→
Majma and Swaang are organizing JURRAT – A week long campaign on violence against women, from Dec 10-16.
On 16th December 2013 one year would have passed since the shameful, horrific and brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi. And yet this whole year, city after city and village after village has screamed ‘Rape’ ‘Gang Rape’ in the months after the much publicized and condemned Delhi-gang rape. Continue reading Jurrat – 10 to 16 December 2013, Delhi→
Unlike Justice (Retd.) Ashok Kumar Ganguly, Tarun Tejpal’s defenders cannot cry innocence given that Tejpal has confessed to his crime, albeit disputing the degree of it. He has even confessed having told his colleague that suffering the sexual assault was the “easiest way of keeping your job”. Even his two decades old comrade Shoma Choudhury is unable to defend him beyond saying that he has his versions. Nobody buys Tejpal’s ludicrous retractions.
This put Tejpal’s friends, fellow molesters and self-defeating secularists in a bind. Many of his friends have chosen silence, which is understandable. It is only human to recuse oneself from the difficult choice between principle and friendship. Though some like Arundhati Roy and Sankarshan Thakur have admirably chosen principle over personal association. But those who wanted to come out and actually defend Tejpal were at a loss for words. How do they defend a crime whose perpetrator has confessed to it? So they came up with a few sly defences which pretend to be nuances. Some like BG Verghese are writing as though they were ghostwriting Shoma Choudhury’s defence.
Many competing frameworks have given expression to shock, disbelief, rage, grief, guilt and fear after the violence witnessed as the new semester kicked in, with a monumental tragedy, on the JNU campus. Everyone is stunned by the tragic turn of events that has resulted in a young woman battling for her life in a neuro–ICU in Safadarjung hospital. Confusion gripped the campus as the classroom became a scene of crime, a classmate became a bloodied body and the familiar transformed into the incomprehensible. It was devastating that the assailant, who succeeded in extinguishing his own life, aimed to unite in death the object of his obsession through a planned and highly performative act of violence in the routine setting of a classroom.
On 15 January, Kafila published an open letter to MADHU PURNIMA KISHWAR by ZAHIR JANMOHAMED. Three months later, Kishwar has sent us a response. Given below her response are comments by Zahir Janmohamed.
My apologies for the delay in responding to your “Open Letter” addressed to me through Kafila on January 11 2013.
Unlike most of those upset at my articles on Gujarat, you have been remarkably measured in your tone and tenor and also respectful in questioning my observations. However, the content of your letter annoyed me no end. I kept postponing my response in the hope that my annoyance at the absurdity of your chargesheet would subside over time. I honestly did not want to give you an angry or discourteous response so that the dialogic mode you established remained undisturbed.
I was born around the time the Assam Movement started and grew up in an atmosphere of intense xenophobia. Everywhere, we heard anti-Bangladeshi slogans – which often translated into expressions of anti-Bengali sentiments. Our parents tried their best at home to protect us from such influences. We were sent to convent schools which often isolated us from whatever was going on outside the school walls. But we felt the tensions in the air and tasted the fear. We heard the names of places and people, killed, maimed, tortured.
Nellie was one such name we grew up with. There were others – Dhula, Gohpur, Phulung Sapori – where other genocides happened, but the name Nellie stayed with me. It fascinated me and brought to my mind the image of a distraught woman. Many years later, when I started researching the Muslim community of East Bengali origin in Assam, this amorphous image of Nellie started taking a definite shape. And it translated into a poem one day – ‘If Nellie Was the Name of the Woman’ (Northeast Review).
As I wrote the poem, I realized that I could myself be Nellie, a woman, battered, bruised and abused because of my ‘otherness’, because I could – and would – not sacrifice my ‘otherness’ in my quest for oneness within the institution of marriage.
SHERIN B.S. writes from Hyderabad: There is a constant demand for a change in the terminology from ‘rape victim’ to ‘rape survivor’ in the agenda of feminist concerns in discourses related to rape. But beyond the feminist investment on surviving rape, a systematic reading of public discourses presents the traumatic sustenance of layers of violence that follows rape. The Suryanelli girl has survived rape, but the violent experience of life after rape perpetrated by systemic structures of patriarchy places her at the receiving end of a system that consciously alienates, humiliates and hunts her down.
While referring to the Suryanelli rape case there are two kinds of discourses circulated widely. One is the question of legality of the crime involved, with a heavily prejudiced and unsympathetic legal frame work attempting to frame the girl as an eternal victim subject for whom justice is almost impossible, mediated through parallel machinery of the state, including law enforcement. The impossibility of justice is not the intention of the legal machinery but it comes through the operating forces of judgments, prosecution stands, law enforcing offices like police stations and officers, and questions of evidence, alibis and so on. Continue reading When rape survivor becomes victim: Sherin B.S.→
I teach a big word in my critical theory classes: phallogocentrism. It is the idea that our societies are centred by the phallus and language (logos) and is a word that often scares, perplexes, and disturbs my students, but I unpack it using an example. In English, the word seminal, which means something important and path-breaking, derives from “semen” and in contrast, the word hysterical or hysteria, which is a word that has for long been associated with peculiarly female physical and mental disorders (and often used for recommending women’s confinement), derives from “hystera” or the womb. What does such loading of the language – what a 20th century Russian thinker, Mikhail Bakhtin, called the formation of the verbal ideological world – in terms of the perspective, validation, and supremacizing of one gender over the other do to/in our varied lives? Think of the word vanilla that, at least since the 1970s, has meant the ordinary and bland: its etymology derives from the Latin word for vagina (vaina) or “little vagina” for the pods of the plant that reminded someone of women’s genitals. The word porcelain – a thin, fragile kind of clay – too comes from the word for “cowrie shell” whose Italian links to porcella or young sow (a female pig) for someone recalled the shape of a piglet’s orifice. One more: the word amazon which refers to a legendary race of female warriors and has come to mean a strong woman derives possibly from many sources: from the Classical Greek a-mazos or breastless to the Iranian *ama-janah or “virility-killing” – a meaning that interprets the idea of women’s strength as both a mutilation of her physical self and/or as a threat to men. Continue reading The Languages of Sexual Violence: Anupama Mohan→
In the last fortnight, we unlearned submission. On December 16, a 23 year old girl, just on the brink of leading a socio-economically independent life was raped in a moving bus at 9.30 at night.
We saw protests, we saw outraged masses. It is the first time in the history of this nation, when people were out on the streets on the issue of gender. For more than two weeks in a row. And it continues. Figures have been thrown at us: every 20 minutes a woman is raped in India, every third victim is a child, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
At one of these protest sites, the car parking contractor informed me that they have slashed the parking charges from 30 bucks to 10 bucks in solidarity with the girl and her family. This may be dismissed as a ‘simplistic’ contribution by those who have been accusing these protests of being ‘middle class’. But we need to hit the core, to understand the wider repercussions of the Parking contractor’s this simple act. Continue reading Unlearning submission: Neha Dixit→
This song in memory of the unknown citizen is produced by Swaang, a Bombay based cultural group, whose members include actors, writers, music directors, musicians and producers “all in the grips of the market-driven Bombay film industry, but whose hearts continue to pull towards progressive politics!”
Guest post by text byRIJUL KOCHHAR photos by CHANDAN GOMES
Each person, withdrawn into himself, behaves as though he is a stranger to the destiny of all the others. His children and his good friends constitute for him the whole of the human species. As for his transactions with his fellow citizens, he may mix among them, but he sees them not; he touches them, but does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone. And if on these terms there remains in his mind a sense of family, there no longer remains a sense of society.
~Alexis de Toqueville (Epigraph to Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man)
Friends! You drank some darkness
and became visible
~Tomas Tranströmer (“Elegy”)
An hour is what it took for a band of six males to show a woman, a paramedic, ‘her place’ in contemporary Delhi. Often, in our pathological public places, it takes a mere moment. This case is different because it compels us to think through the limits of brutality of the living; it compels us to confront the limits of our capacity to inflict violence. But the night of December 16, 2012 also confronts us with the kind of cities we are building and the kind of places we want to inhabit. It is a different, by no means less important, matter that this woman—from whatever one has gathered these past weeks through the periodic medical bulletins—has battled to compel us to confront all of this and more, for the pain of her body and the brutality of an experience that she had survived for two weeks, serves a specular role—through it, we bear witness to ourselves, or so one hopes.
The death of the 23 year old woman following the brutal gangrape rape and assault on a moving bus on 16 December 2012 at a hospital in Singapore early this morning leaves all of us in states of deep mourning. This is a political death. Rape and murder of women is political violence against all women, whether or not, the political class recognises and accepts this. In the course of the last two weeks, many body blows have been endured. We felt a body blow after the political death of the 17-year-old gangrape victim in Patiala who took her life after she was humiliated and pressurised to compromise. The numbing list of such political violence continues.
We have seen the emergence of many kinds of publics. There have been many speeches and writing against the emergence of a retributive public, where the cry for death penalty or castration became a vocabulary of protest, also especially since the media initially focussed largely on this demand. Yet in the last few days there has been a perceptible shift from the focus on forming a retributive public moving towards a passionately reasoned and informed public on what the government needs to do to be accountable to rape survivors, and indeed, to all of us who reject the rape cultures in India. Continue reading We must resist the cunning of judicial reform: Pratiksha Baxi→
That girl, the one without the name. The one just like us. The one whose battered body stood for all the anonymous women in this country whose rapes and deaths are a footnote in the left-hand column of the newspaper.
Sometimes, when we talk about the history of women in India, we speak in shorthand. The Mathura rape case. The Vishaka guidelines. The Bhanwari Devi case, the Suryanelli affair, the Soni Sori allegations, the business at Kunan Pushpora. Each of these, the names of women and places, mapping a geography of pain; unspeakable damage inflicted on women’s bodies, on the map of India, where you can, if you want, create a constantly updating map of violence against women. Continue reading For Anonymous: Nilanjana Roy→
Men against Sexual Violence, Men for Gender Justice
As men, we are ashamed over the continuing domination of men over women!!
Women and men are Equal. Men should understand and accept this!!
Men should become responsible, humane and non-violent!!
As protesters are pouring into the streets all across the country and demanding justice for the recent brutal gang-rape of a 23 year old woman in Delhi, we as men who stand for justice and equality are ashamed, as a large section of men in our country are committing abuses against women – rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, economic and legal discrimination.
USHA SAXENA writes a letter to Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit:
My daughter Shambhavi and I and a colleague of mine Reema Ganguly went to Jantar Mantar today 25th Dec to take part in a peaceful gathering there against the gang-rape.
At around 4pm two girls came running up to us in tears and said that the police had dragged away 2 of their female friends to Parliament Street Police Station and they asked us to help bring them back. The three of us joined 9 other women and we went to the police station. When we reached there we only saw male constables. We demanded to talk to a female senior officer and said that the 3 women must be released immediately. The policemen very rudely and aggressively tried to chase us out. We refused to leave without those 3 women and so one male cop ordered some female cops standing in the courtyard to come in and arrest all of us. Continue reading How Delhi police assaulted my daughter on 25 December: Usha Saxena→