When a Rape is Not a Rape by Freny Manecksha


By Freny Manecksha

Posted on February 16, 2013 in The Times of India, Crest Edition

2004 - A dozen Manipuri women who had stripped in front of the headquarters of Assam Rifles

Though the Verma Commission recommended that armed forces personnel accused of rape be tried as per civilian law, the ordinance was silent on the issue. Is national security coming in the way of justice?

In 2004, an iconic image, depicted a dozen Manipuri women who had stripped in front of the headquarters of Assam Rifles, holding banners saying “Indian Army Rape Us. ” The protest occurred after the body of 34-year-old Thangjam Manorama was found near Imphal on July 11, 2004. Manorama had been picked up from her home by 17 Assam Rifles on suspicion of being a militant. Says Chitra Ahanthem, editor of Imphal Free Press, “It was the sight of the the body which bore appalling wounds – scratch marks, deep gashes on her thighs and gunshot wounds on the genitals – that sparked off outrage and this unusual protest among the Manipuri women. ”

More than eight years later, Manorama and women of Manipur are still denied justice. In 2011, the Manipur government’s probe and call for action was stalled after the army challenged the Guwahati high court decision in the Supreme Court through a special leave petition saying no sanction had been given to the Manipur government to carry out a probe. Manipur comes under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Section 6 says the state government cannot prosecute law enforcement agencies without sanction from the home ministry.

Such cases have led the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) to make suggestions to the Verma Commission to bring security troops under the criminal justice system. And though the commission in its report recommended that security persons accused of rape be tried under civilian law, the recent ordinance on sexual violence was silent on the issue.

PUDR observes in the suggestions to the Verma Commission how powers of search and seizure under AFSPA work as “permissions to enter households and harass and rape women with impunity.”

Another controversial case was the Kunan-Poshpora mass rapes of 1991 in Kashmir. Men were made to assemble in the fields at night while 23 women of the village, aged between 13 and 80, were raped allegedly by troops of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles on the night of February 23-24. No police investigations were carried out. A Press Council of India committee, headed by B G Verghese, claimed the complaints were fabricated. In October 2011, the State Human Rights Commission, acknowledging the sexual assaults, asked the state to start a fresh probe. But nothing has come of it.

The army, which resists all attempts to lift AFSPA, says it has its own justice delivery systems and there is a strong and vigilant court martial process. Legal activist Vrinda Grover observes, “While they do deliver some sentences, it is not commensurate with justice. There is no transparency since one has no access to court martial proceedings and no information is shared with the public or the victims. ” In several cases Right to Information applications are refused under exemptions.

One of the victims of Kunan-Poshpora, in her testimony to the Independent People’s Tribunal on Human Rights Violations in Kashmir, speaks of the challenge in filing FIRs because of fear of reprisal by the troops. She adds that although an FIR was lodged (RI/1387/83) at Trehgam police station on March 2, 1991, nothing came of it.

Another report “Alleged Perpetrators – Stories of Impunity in J&K” by International People’s Tribunal for Human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons shows the lengthy and almost futile efforts of a particular case of torture and sexual assault in Sipan, Anantnag district.

In response to an RTI query the Jammu & Kashmir government in 2009 said sanction for prosecution had been sought from the defence ministry in 2006 but was still awaited. The ministry claimed the request had not been received. What is also significant is that it took 12 years for the J&K police to investigate and process the case for prosecution.

An even more alarming feature is that the culture of impunity has permeated to the police who do not come under AFSPA, some of whom are even awarded despite complaints of sexual violence against them. In Chhattisgarh, where there is militarisation but no AFSPA, police officer SRP Kalluri, who was awarded a gallantry medal this January, has been named by Ledhabai, the wife of a slain Maoist, as an accused for custodial rape and gangrape in a case filed in the Chhattisgarh High Court.

Last year there was outrage over adivasi school teacher Soni Sori’s letter to her lawyer stating that she was sexually assaulted and tortured by police officer Ankit Garg whilst in jail. Garg was given a gallantry award despite the complaints and Sori emerged as a global rallying figure for her vehement stand against atrocities perpetrated on adivasi women. Sori who has been jailed by Dantewada police on various counts won a crucial victory this week as she was acquitted for being a key accused in an incident of opening firing and burning Essar vehicles.

Commenting on this trend of rewarding tainted police officers Vrinda Grover says that by such rewards the state is assuring them that they will be safeguarded. It is telling women, she says, that their bodies are fodder for interests of national security.

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State Mandate: Allow Boys in Girls’ Locker Rooms


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Drew-Zahn_avatar

by DREW ZAHN

.Student discomfort is not a reason to deny access,‘ says education commish

Little gir lembarrassed hands cover eyes
Shame! Shame!

A new, official interpretation of state law released by Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester requires schools to permit “transgender” boys to use girls’ locker rooms, bathrooms and changing facilities if the boys “assert” they’re really girls.

“Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex-segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility,” the official document admits, but then concludes, “this discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, however, says there’s something far more significant than “discomfort” at stake.

“The School Commissioner’s first duty is to protect all students, from kindergarten to grade 12, not endanger them,” Mineau said in a statement. “The overriding issue with this new policy is that opening girls’ bathrooms to boys is an invasion of privacy and a threat to all students’ safety.”

Furthermore, the policy document explains, neither doctor’s note nor hormone therapy nor even parental permission is needed for a student to switch sex: If a boy says he’s a girl, as far as the schools should be concerned, he’s a girl.

“The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student,” the statement reads. “A school should accept a student’s assertion of his or her gender identity when there is … ‘evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity.’”

The document further warns that referring to transgendered students by their birth name or sex, if it doesn’t match their current, preferred name or sex, “should not be tolerated and can be grounds for student discipline.”

The document creates policy related to a law that went into effect in July of last year called “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” which in turn amended G.L. c. 76, §5 “to establish that no person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of gender identity.”

According to the 11-page policy paper, that means that boys who identify as girls should not only be addressed by the feminine pronoun and be listed as girls on official transcripts, but they should also be allowed access to girls’ facilities and be allowed to play on girls’ athletic and club teams. Likewise for girls who insist they’re boys.

Andrew Beckwith, attorney for Massachusetts Family Institute, however, warns that the document’s definition of transgender “is extremely broad.”

“If a male student tells his teacher he feels like a girl on the inside, the school has to treat him in every way as if he actually is a girl,” Beckwith explained, citing the policy paper. “School personnel may be forbidden from informing the parents of their child’s gender decisions, and students can even decide to be one gender at home and another at school.”

The Massachusetts Family Institute notes during the debate the law giving rise to this new policy had been dubbed the “Stealth Bathroom Bill,” even though opening public bathrooms to self-identified transgender people were specifically removed from the law out of legislators’ concerns for the safety, privacy and modesty of all its citizens.

In schools, however, the bathroom provisions will now effectively be put back in.

“Each situation needs to be reviewed and addressed based on the particular circumstances of the student and the school facilities,” the education policy states. “[Yet] in all cases, the principal should be clear with the student (and parent) that the student may access the restroom, locker room and changing facility that corresponds to the student’s gender identity.”

The policy also gives the following example: “In one middle school, a male-to-female transgender sixth-grader socially transitioned after spring break. For the rest of the school year, she used the nurse’s restroom and the other unisex restrooms at the school. Beginning in seventh grade, she used the girls’ restroom.”

Democratic State Rep. Colleen Garry has introduced amending legislation to the current law says she would prevent precisely these scenarios by ensuring that people use the restrooms and locker room facilities consistent with their anatomical sex.

“Like many of my colleagues, I am very concerned about Commissioner Chester’s directive to open public school bathrooms to all genders,” said Garry. “This was not the intent of the Legislature, and we need to pass legislation that clearly defines the use of such facilities.”

WND contacted Commissioner Chester’s office for comment, but received no reply. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education can be contacted through its website.

WND has also reported previous attempts by state lawmakers in other states who have attempted to open up shower and bathroom facilities to cross-dressers and “transgendered” individuals.

In Maryland, for example, Montgomery County used the courts to squash a petition of 27,000 residents concerned about county legislation that granted men access to Womens’ restrooms, and vice versa, in the name of “gender identity” and “anti-discrimination.”

And in New York City, a lawsuit opened up the bathrooms in Grand Central Station after a man in woman’s clothing was arrested for using the ladies’ room.

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Re-posted from WND Education

http://www.wnd.com

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