Easy access to the internet in the current decade has allowed women to start online activism and empower themselves. They use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. The internet allows women freedom to voice their opinions and organize campaigns for equality rights.
On May 29, 2013, three women started an online campaign to take down various misogynistic pages on Facebook that spread hatred toward women. In just one week, the campaigners roused hundreds of thousands of supporters who are part of the “great feminist revival.” The social networking giant Facebook caved into pressure. The campaign succeeded where many previous efforts failed. Facebook took action over contents that celebrated rape and domestic violence.
The following video titled “Woman Empowerment – I will fight back” by Unseen Passage Pictures is an eye opener. It carries the message that if women do not empower themselves, then nobody will.
While many praise the audacity of the young woman there are a few detractors, as expected, with their sarcastic, derogatory remarks. Some even insinuate that the video is a concocted one implying that the woman is an actor with makeup for bruises for the ‘skit’, and lying.
Whatever it is, the video impressed me.
Here is a transcription of the young woman’s rendering of the incident.
I usually don’t talk like this. It’s because my tooth is broken.
Actually, yesterday I went shopping with a friend to Sarojini Market. I love street shopping, but you know how crowded it is.
We were checking out some dresses in a shop. Suddenly, somebody touched me from behind. I felt very uncomfortable. I screamed out of fear and everybody around got to know what just happened.
It was very embarrassing. But that guy was simply walking away with his friends, laughing at me. I thought somebody would catch hold of them; somebody would take an action against them. But everyone was staring at me only as if I had done something wrong. Some people were even laughing. But then, an uncle stepped forward and showed some courage and he said:
“Dear, they are mannerless people. Nobody can do anything about it. They are incorrigible. You better take care of yourself and try wearing decent clothes.”
No. No. I didn’t wear a bikini to go shopping. I was just wearing a jeans and a sleeveless shirt. But, I am just another helpless woman, isn’t it? So, obviously everybody had to judge me only like they always do.
Whenever I am alone at the bus stop waiting for the bus or when I come late from the office and my colleague drops me, when I am with a guy, when I ask for help, or when I wear western clothes, and also when they feel like judging, they judge.
But, I am just another helpless woman. So, I said: “Uncle, it’s okay. I will handle.”
I called the woman helpline and told them my current location. Then, I ran behind them, grabbed him by his collar and slapped him hard. They hit me back. Then, people around came to help me and beat them up badly. You should have seen their wounded faces. They all are behind the bars now charged with ‘Women Harassment’.
Then, I understood one thing that in our country, it is very important to take your own stand. If we didn’t empower ourselves, then nobody will.
Take your own stand. Only we are responsible for ourselves.
A shameful incident happened in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India on March 12, 2015.
Ms. Nivedita Chakraborty, a Program Manager at NetApp, posted on her Facebook page the details with related photographs.
On their way to their office Nivedita Chakraborty and Archana Sharad were “shocked to see a girl aged about 25 being beaten black and blue by a strong, well-built man, with at least 50 people standing on the street and simply watching.“
The man, grabbing the girl by her hair, slapped her. When she fell down on the road, he kicked her groin.
Nivedita and Archana rushed out of their car. Archana pushed the man back in an attempt to loosen his grip on the girl while Nivedita tried to free the girl’s hair from his clutches. Once they freed the girl, the two brave women along with the rescued girl sought refuge inside their car.
But the man sat on the car bonnet and did not let them drive away.
The girl named Surya told her two rescuers that she was from Tamilnadu now working in Bangalore and the man was her father, a police sub-inspector from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.
Surya’s parents on hearing rumors of their daughter having a love affair had come over to Bangalore to end the affair. When she denied that she was not having an affair, her parents had simply refused to listen or believe her. The father wanted to take her back to Madurai and forcibly marry her off to someone of their choice.
Her mother, a teacher in Madurai, a silent spectator during the incident until then bawled out blaming her daughter for the “shame she has brought upon her family”.
Nivedita called the police and they came after about 30 minutes and took Surya and her parents to the Ulsoor Police station.
“Not only, was the parents behavior shocking and gruesome , but what was more shameful was the silent spectators on the street who stood watching the entire drama, not willing to save the girl or aid and support us, who were at least trying.
If a policeman chooses to physically and publicly abuse his adult daughter , how are we safe in the hands of such ‘protectors of law’?
If a teacher mistrusts and blames her adult daughter while supporting her husband’s abusive behavior, how can we entrust our children’s grooming to such ‘educators and shapers of young India’?”
Yesterday, a Waseem Memon posted on the Facebook page of Archana Sharad:
I got a call from Police commissioner’s office, Madurai. The guy’s name is Jayaraman and he is no more into active service. He was suspended two years ago.
PS: The sad part is that no FIR was filed against that ******* as the family decided to amicably resolve the case after relatives intervened. (Got this info from Ulsoor Police Station).
The controversial BBC documentary “India’s Daughter” directed by the British filmmaker, Ms. Leslee Udwin, banned in India, made it to the World Wide Web.
The documentary focuses on the horrific case of the brutally beaten and gang-raped Jyoti Singh on December 16, 2012 in New Delhi. The incident sent shock waves around the world and led to protests all over India demanding changes in attitudes towards women.
Mukesh Singh, the Delhi rapist says victim shouldn’t have fought back (Source: bbc.com)
Mukesh Singh, one of the four rapists, now facing the death penalty, recounts his crime by talking to the camera. He does not show the slightest regret. He does not seem to have understood the gravity of his actions, nor the actions of his criminal companions. He just says:
The 15 or 20 minutes of the incident, I was driving the bus. They switched off the lights. My brother was the main guy. They hit the boy and he just hid between the seats. The girl was screaming, “Help me! Help me!“
My brother said, “Don’t stop the bus. Keep driving!“
They hit her and dragged her to the back. Then they went in turns. First the juvenile and Ram Singh. After that, Akshay and the rest went. Someone put his hand inside her and pulled out something long. It was her intestines.
He said, “She’s dead. Throw her out quickly.“
First, they tried the back door, but it didn’t open. So, they dragged her to the front. They threw her out.
My drunk state wore off completely. I couldn’t even control the steering. I only drove the bus. It’s lies that my brother or Akshay
took the steering. Only I drove.
People say this happened, that happened, that the driver was changed. Show me how we changed drivers, and I’ll accept I also
went to the back and killed her.
We went straight home. They were saying, “Where’s their stuff?“
It was in the front. The mobile, the watch.
Pawan put the shoes on, Akshay put the jacket on. They wore the stuff. They had no fear.
And on the way, the juvenile said: “Sir, I threw it away… What I pulled out of her body I threw it away. I wrapped it in cloth and threw it out.”
We reached home in about 10 minutes.
We agreed no one would say anything, and if the police got involved, no one would name names.
There was a lot of blood. Blood on the seats, blood on the floor. Akshay and the juvenile both cleaned the bus.
Vinay had a lot of blood on his hands. He washed them at my house.
I went to sleep.
I can’t say why this incident – this accident – happened. Mainly to teach them a lesson.
My brother had done such things before, but this time his intention was not to rape or fight. He had the right to explain to them. He asked the boy why he was out with a girl so late at night.
The boy said, “It’s none of your business,” and slapped him.
There was fighting, beating. Those who raped, raped.
They thought that if they do “wrong things” with them, then they won’t tell anyone out of shame. They’d learn a lesson.
When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after doing her, and only hit the boy.
People say, when you hang, they put this on your neck. The eyes pop out, the tongue sticks out, that’s what they say. They’ve made this such a big issue. People have committed bigger crimes, and nothing had happened to them. In Barabanki after the rape, her eyes were taken out. Sometimes they put acid on girls. There was another rape where they burnt her alive. Wasn’t that wrong? If ours is wrong, then that was wrong too.
The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, “Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.” Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.
In the film, the convict Mukesh Singh’s comments are not the only ones that shock the audience. Despicable and disturbing are the warped misogynistic ideas and comments voiced with great flourish by M.L. Sharma and A.P. Singh, the two lawyers representing the rapists..
Lawyer M.L. Sharma says in the film:
“That girl was with some unknown boy who took her on a date. In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person.”
“They left our Indian culture. They were under the imagination of the filmy culture, in which they can do anything. “
“She should not be put on the streets just like food. The ‘lady’, on the other hand, you can say the ‘girl’ or ‘woman’, are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is up to you how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop it.”
“You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. A woman means I immediately put the sex in his eyes. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”
“He would like to create a damage. He will put his hand… Insert, hit! It is just like that kind of action. Beat him. Putting his hand forcefully inside. “
Lawyer A.P. Singh says in the film:
“If very important or very necessary, she should go outside, but she should go with their family member like uncle, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, etc., etc. She should not go in night hours with her boyfriend… “
“If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight. This is my stand. I still today stand by that reply.”
“A number of criminal cases of murder, robbery, rape are pending against approximately 250 members of parliament. Sitting members of parliament. But their cases are not being tried in fast-track courts. Their cases are not being tried based on day-to-day hearings. Why? If you want to give a message to society against rape, against robbery, against murder, then you should start from your own neck.”
In one scene Puneeta Devi, wife of Akshay Thakur asks:
“Am I not a daughter of this country? Don’t I have the right to live? Will there be no more rapes in Delhi? Will you hang all rapists? A woman is protected by her husband. If he’s dead, who will protect her and for whom will she live? I also don’t want to live. Priyanshu, my son, is a child. He understands nothing. I will strangle him to death. what else can I do?”
These and other scenes showing force used by the Delhi Police while trying to quell the protests by students and the public has led to the ban of this documentary film in India.
Director Ms. Leslee Udwin said:
“I have constantly stressed this is not an Indian problem, it is a global problem. I remain confident that this film will be a powerful tool for change.”
Each year the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th. The film was due to be aired in the United Kingdom on Sunday, March 8, 2015 to coincide with IWD. In the wake of attempts by the Indian government to block the release of the film worldwide BBC brought its broadcast forward. BBC Four broadcast it on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 3:30 am IST.
The BBC said that nearly 300,000 viewers tuned in to watch the film and received only 32 complaints against it.
Sharing an email from a father of an Indian daughter.
Dear Indian Homemaker,
After stumbling upon your blog accidentally, I read with interest your post created on May 10, countering the so-called advantages of arranged marriage.
Although I have been happily married for nearly thirty years now, I have seen my own daughter suffer terribly in the arranged marriage system. While some might say that it is our culture, and love marriages are a Western import, I want to place on record my own story as a warning to anyone who might be considering the idea of simply going along with what everyone is saying, and isn’t following his or her own heart just because he doesn’t want ill to be spoken of his family in society. It is painful for me to write this, but I thought that I must use the internet forum to let people know how the system works.
I am retired with two daughters and a son.
It is my older daughter who has gone through hell on account of this horrible system of in-laws and dowry, and it is her that I want to write about.
About three years ago, my daughter graduated with her masters degree. She has always been extremely hard-working and being from a top college, she secured a well-paying job. Like any father, I was very proud of her and was happy that she was on-track to do very well in life without any help from me at all. The only thing left was to find a good groom for her, we thought, and after that she would be completely settled.
As my daughter had not selected any boy herself, the search began. We went all out. We published ads in papers, asked family friends, looked on matrimonial websites. Eventually, we found a boy, in the same city where my daughter worked a that time. He was from a good, well-settled family which owned a chain of businesses. He was well-spoken, confident and seemed quite modern in his ideas. We were forthright about my daughter being career-oriented and told the boy’s family categorically that she would not leave her job after marriage. We were assured that it was not a problem as the other daughter-in-law was also working and most of the housework was done by maids in any case.
My daughter, docile as always, simply went along and said okay to the proposal after only a few visits.
Within one month, the marriage was finalized and the ceremony was held in 2010.
At this point, we made the mistake of paying out a hefty dowry. It sounds very naive now, but I am being candid with you; I thought this might making things a little easier for our daughter . How could I have known what monstrous characters these people were hiding behind their smiles and laughter?
From the moment my daughter entered the house, these people began plotting to get more. At first, they were nice and gentle, but soon they began to show their true colours. It started with small hints, then moved on to broad hints, taunts, fights and finally, physical assaults.
I had no idea all this was going on. My daughter never told me; I used to call up every week and she told me that all was fine. Then one day, she said that she did not want me to call her anymore. She gave absolutely no reason for this request. It was completely out of character, and I was a little hurt, but reluctantly agreed. In Jun 2011, on her wedding anniversary, to my utter shock, the ceremony was held without us even being invited! By then, I had come to the conclusion that something was definitely very wrong.
I made a surprise visit to my son-in-law’s place. I told their family that I was there on business and had decided to pay them a visit. What I saw at their place made my blood boil over. My confident, beautiful daughter was treated like she was little more than a servant. When I entered, she was rudely told to get some tea, and the same people who had been so bubbly and smiley treated me as if I was a social inferior. I called out to my daughter, refused the tea, and simply stated that I was taking her out to lunch. They tried to protest, but I ignored them. It was only in the car that the whole story came out.
I have already told you the broad incidents, I won’t bore you with gory details. This fiend who called himself a husband not only hit my daughter, but he actually forced himself on her sexually. Imagine! My daughter, who I have NEVER hit till date. My daughter, who I brought up as the apple of my eye. How could this man have the gall to lay his dirty hands on her? How dare this rapist, this creature of filth, force her to bow to his perverted whims and fancies? The poor girl was so traumatized that she could not even cry! It was like talking to a shell, a dry husk of a person. It broke my heart to hear her speak like that.
I took her back to her marital home, told her to pack all essential documents and objects in a bag and come back with me immediately. The boy’s family created a scene of course, but at this time, I was so angry that I did not even look at them, let alone respond to their nonsense.
To cut a long story short, I got my daughter home and helped her file divorce papers and supplementary charges against the boy’s family. Although this terrible chapter is over, I am committed to personally ensuring that this man goes to jail, and isn’t just let off with a fine. I will make sure that he faces the consequences of his sins.
The points raised by the newspaper article (discussed in that post) seem so very shallow to me! It was written by someone who has no idea of ground reality and is floating in the dreams of a yesterday that does not exist.
Let me consider each point:
1. in a negotiated marriage, family support is a given.
What decent parent would not support their own child? And if this parent does not want to support a daughter who had a love marriage, would he support her if her arranged marriage ran into trouble? What is the guarantee?
2. If the marriage demands the girl to stay with her in-laws, it is more likely that they will make her feel comfortable as they have already ‘approved’ of her.
As you can judge from my story, the ‘approval’ is only skin-deep. There is no guarantee that these in-laws will ‘approve’ afterwards too. And because enough time is not usually provided, who knows what the in-laws are actually like? Serial killers can also seem very pleasant under normal circumstances, but they will show their true colours only after a certain time.
3. The process … involves understanding each other’s cultural interests apart from individual views and opinions about life in general.
Complete rubbish. The process only involves ticking off certain features, as if one was buying a car. This is not a feature of arranged marriage at all.
4. Unlike a love marriage where financial security of the groom is not always a priority, in an arranged marriage, it is imperative that the bride’s family ensure that their would-be son-in-law is career-oriented and has a steady flow of income.
If financial security is not a priority for the couple, then how is it important in any case? If it is a priority, then the couple will ensure it.
5. Each day is a surprise wherein the couple learn about the nitty gritty of the relationship and also take an effort to nurture it.
But are all surprises pleasant? Some things should not be a surprise. There are things that one must know well about one’s husband beforehand.
6. Once the alliance is arranged, the boy and girl are officially allowed to meet and know more about each other
I do not understand what this means. Are the girl and boy not allowed to meet otherwise? If not, then how will they get married in any case?
7. Ever heard of Swayamvar, an ancient Indian practice of choosing a husband from among a list of suitors?
Do all ‘Swayamvars’ turn out blissfully?
8. Since both the parties are way too involved in finding the right match and also the actual activity of marriage, it takes the load off the bride-to-be and gives her time to get comfortable in her new surroundings.
I can only laugh at this, seeing how things have gone with my own daughter.
I hope I’ve not made this overly long. I really wanted to share it, and I hope your find it useful.
Maariyamma is likely to be killed by her children because they cannot afford her. They will give her a loving oil bath. Several glasses of coconut water. A mouthful of mud. Perhaps a poison injection. She is just one of many old parents in Tamil Nadu dying in this way. But no one blinks at these ritual murders.
IN TAMIL, it is known as thalaikoothal. A leisurely oil bath. An exercise in love and health when given to newborn children, a ceremonial beginning to festivals, and the universal answer to pitiless summers. In Tamil Nadu’s small industry hub of Virudhunagar, however, it is the beginning of slow murder. The marker of the devastating poverty that makes a son kill his own aging mother.
Young family members of this district in southern Tamil Nadu have been pushing their infirm, elderly dependents to death because they cannot afford to take care of them. When 65-year-old Maariyamma suspected this might happen to her too, she moved out of her son’s house two years ago. “I’m not well enough to live on my own, but it is better than being killed by them,” she says. Amazingly, there is no bitterness in her voice. Or anger. “They’re struggling hard to take care of their own children,” says Maariyamma, of her sons. She places no blame. Her two sons and two daughters are farm labourers who travel to different villages every sowing and harvesting season. Seeing her children at pains to run their house, and feed and educate her grandchildren, Maariyamma knew she was a burden. She knew how it would end if she didn’t leave.
Maariyamma had seen it happen to other men and women of her age. Her neighbour, Parvathy, had been paralysed at the age of 76. “She had only one son,” says Maariyamma. “And he was working in Chennai, surviving on some menial job there. How could he afford to look after his bedridden mother?” One day, Maariyamma says, Parvathy’s son came, “did it” and went back to Chennai. “What else could he do?” she asks. Again, in place of anger or fear, there is helpless resignation. And a strange empathy for the person who might elaborately plan her murder.
Thalaikoothal works thus: an extensive oil bath is given to an elderly person before the crack of dawn. The rest of the day, he or she is given several glasses of cold tender coconut water. Ironically, this is everything a mother would’ve told her child not do while taking an oil bath. “Tender coconut water taken in excess causes renal failure,” says Dr Ashok Kumar, a practicing physician in Madurai. By evening, the body temperature falls sharply. In a day or two, the old man or woman dies of high fever. This method is fail-proof “because the elderly often do not have the immunity to survive the sudden fever,” says Dr Kumar.
OVER THE years, other methods have evolved too. The most painful one is when mud dissolved in water is forced down; it causes indigestion and an undignified death. Velayudham of Help age India says the families often take the mud from their own land, if they have any. “It is believed that this makes their souls happy,” he says.
Dorairaj, a farmer in Satur, confesses that Muniammal, a distant relative, had been killed four months earlier. She was 78, and too weak to fend for herself. She was given an oil bath, but somehow survived. After a few days, she was given the ‘milk treatment’. “When the milk is being poured, the nose is held tight,” says Dorairaj. This ‘milk treatment’ is often preceded by starvation. The household stops serving the parent solid food. “When milk is poured uninterruptedly into the mouth, it goes into the respiratory track. A starving person cannot withstand even a moment’s suffocation,” says 60-year-old Paul Raj, coordinator of a district elders’ welfare association.
Though everyone seems to be in the know, thalaikoothal officially remained unexposed until the death of 60-year-old Selvaraj, of Ramasamipuram village in Virudhunagar on 18 June this year. Selvaraj, who was bed-ridden due to an accident, died suddenly. Asokan, Selvaraj’s nephew in Virudhunagar, raised the alarm on his uncle’s death. He registered an FIR, and subsequently a woman named Zeenath was arrested for administering a poisonous injection. Prabhakar, the Virudhunagar Commissioner of Police, admits that it is hard to find any evidence. “The body was cremated and there is no scope for a re-examination of the corpse,” he says.
Zeenath has been released on bail and refused to talk to TEHELKA when we met her in her village, Ramasamipuram. Some villagers claimed that Zeenath was a ‘professional mercy killer’.
‘It’s difficult to view it simply in a legal or criminal framework,’ says district collector VK Shanmugham
A few days after Selvaraj’s death came to light, a newspaper published a report exposing more mysterious deaths in the district. When the district administration of Virudhunagar learnt how widespread the mercy killing was, it ordered an investigation. “It was shocking for all of us,” says V K Shanmugham, district collector in Virudhunagar. He soon realised that conventional state responses like arrests, warnings and interrogations would not even scratch the surface.
Thalaikoothal lay in the indefinable space between crime and desperate acts of poverty. It was social custom, a collective family decision, a ritual goodbye to a loved one who had lived a full life. Sometimes, it was the victim’s own idea. Shanmugham found that many called it a path to “eternal peace”, an escape from the violence of poverty. “It is difficult to view this simply in a legal or criminal framework,” he adds.
If thalaikoothal is seen as a crime, an entire village is accomplice. Community members and relatives not only support the practice, several even arrive a day before the auspicious oil bath to meet the aged parent one last time. Everybody knows the man or woman is going to die.
“Nobody questions or reports it to the police. They don’t even see it as a crime. It is a kind of accepted practice,” says Dr Lakshmi, a physician in Karyappetti village. Over 75, Dr Lakshmi recollects that she has been hearing of this practice of killing the elderly for 34 years.
The practice is not confined to a particular caste or community. “The poor do it, whatever their caste,” says Chandra Devi, the district Welfare Officer. Most residents are seasonal farm labourers, livestock shepherds or migrant workers in small factories in the nearby industrial hub Sivakasi. Their mobile lives make it virtually impossible for them to stay home to care for their parents.
Killing is indeed a brutal solution to financial burdens, but community members claim there is no alternative. “It does not mean that they do not love their parents,” says Chellathorai, the president of Paneerpetty village Panchayat.
Paul Raj, of the district elders welfare association, recently requested the district collector for government protection for the elderly. “The aged in these villages are highly vulnerable. We demand government’s immediate action.” Raj, however, realises that while police forces can protect an aged woman from her children, what they really need is protection from penury. “If the seniors had some income, they would not be considered so burdensome,” says Raj. “For example, if they got more pension, or at least got it regularly, it might give some respite.”
Kasi, a daily wager, moved out of his son’s house after his wife died. He’s not sure if he’s 65 or 70, but his shock of white hair, equally white handlebar moustache, and soil-black wrinkled skin are testament to his long and arduous life. Kasi had decided to leave when he watched his children grow tired of tending to their father’s every need. “I’m very fond of them, and can’t imagine they will try to kill me,” he says. “But anyway, I didn’t want to push them to any extreme step.” Whether he too would have been invited for that chilling oil bath some years down, Kasi doesn’t know. And he didn’t stick around to find out.
ACROSS VIRUDHUNAGAR, even as elderly men and women leave their homes, they make excuses for their children. “My son was struggling with his own life,” says Kasi. They put up a brave front. “I’m surviving fine with the ration rice at 2 per kilo,” says a reed-thin Maariyamma. They starve, and sigh, but do not complain. Thalaikoothal is to them not cowardly murder, but a brave farewell. Kasi and Maariyamma do not see how extreme it is, how dramatic. For them, it is a sort of practical love that is simply about survival.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognisance of media reports about detention of a 10-year-old rape victim by the police in Bulandshahr district of Uttar Pradesh recently.
The apex court has now sent notice to the state government, asking how the police put the rape victim in custody.
The callous response of police came to fore after the girl’s rape as she was put behind the bars by women personnel when she approached them to file a complaint along with her mother. The victim was rescued after several hours only after locals protested over the matter.
Two women constables have been suspended while two sub-inspectors, including the station-in-charge have been sent to police lines following the incident, SSP Gulab Singh said.
Every year, around 700,000 visitors from around the globe visit the Maldives, lured by its pristine beaches. However, this paradise nation has become increasingly conservative in recent years due to influence of more fundamental forms of Islam.
In the summer of 2012, in the remote Feydhoo island in the Maldives, a police investigation after finding the corpse of a baby buried beneath an outdoor shower area outside the home of an unfortunate 15-year-old girl revealed that the teenager gave birth to her stepfather’s baby, which he allegedly killed and buried.
The teenager reportedly confessed to the police that apart from her stepfather she had consensual sex with another male. It is unclear whether the police has identified or charged this person. The police have charged the girl’s stepfather for raping her for years and murdering the baby she bore.
On February 25, 2013, a juvenile court in the Maldives, instead of sympathizing with the plight of the 15-year-old girl, has found her guilty of having “sex outside marriage.” The Court sentenced her to spend eight months under house arrest and to receive 100 lashes according to the Sharia Law when she turns 18, unless she requests it earlier.
This incident has triggered widespread worldwide condemnation.
Under the current laws of the Maldives, pre-marital sex is a crime and those found guilty are often flogged. Flogging as a punishment for this ‘crime’ directly violates international law, which completely prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments. Yet, flogging remains all too common in the Maldives. In 2009, the courts sentenced over 180 people for flogging for the ‘crime’ of fornication. Almost 90 per cent of them were women.
However, under the international human rights laws and standards, to which the Maldives is a signatory, ‘fornication’ is not a recognisedoffence and member states must not criminalize or punish young people who engage in consensual sexual activity, or are victims of abuse.
While visiting the country in 2011, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navi Pillay called flogging “one of the most inhumane and degrading forms of violence against women” and she requested the Maldives to stop this barbaric practice.
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch, said: “The girl is already a victim and is traumatized. The authorities should be trying to protect her, not punish her.”
President Mohammed Waheed Hassan of the Maldives is already feeling global pressure. The president’s office has released a statement saying that the girl is a victim to be protected and not punished by the government. A government spokesperson has also said that the Maldives are considering changing the law.
The Amnesty International UK / Blogs says:
If one good thing could come out of this case, it is that the international outrage prompted by this girl’s story and focus on the darker side of life in this seemingly idyllic holiday destination will convince the authorities to end the practice of flogging and decriminalise consensual sexual activity.
On Friday, March 15, 2013, six men attacked a Swiss woman aged about 40 and her husband. The Swiss couple was on a three-month holiday in India. They had visited the temple town of Orchha in Tikamgarh district of Madhya Prades. On their way to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, the couple had stopped to camp for the night in the forest near a village in Datia district, Madhya Pradesh, India.
A local police official told the media the gang beat up the husband, tied him to a tree before raping the woman. The gang after assaulting the husband tied him to a tree before raping the woman. The couple was not sure of the exact number of assailants since it was dark. The gang robbed them of their cellphone, laptop, and 10,000 rupees ($185).
On Monday, March 18, 2013, the police produced in court six farmers from nearby villages. Dilip Arya, the deputy inspector general of police of the area, told reporters that the accused had confessed to the charge of gang-raping the Swiss woman tourist. They also face other charges such as robbing the Swiss couple. Police said they recovered the laptop and the cellphone from one of the suspects.
Reacting to the unfortunate incident, the Swiss embassy in India said the health and treatment of the victim was a priority for them at the moment. Distraught over the rape, the Swiss foreign ministry in Bern released a statement on Saturday expressing deep shock at the ‘tragic incident’. They sought a “swift” investigation into the incident so that the victim gets justice.
Last month, the Swiss government issued a travel notice for India that included a warning about “increasing incidences of rape and other sexual offenses in India.” The latest incident could prompt other countries to issue similar warnings as regards to travel within India.
This attack comes just three months after the fatal gang-rape of 23-year-old physiotherapy intern Jyoti Singh on a bus in New Delhi in December 2012, which spurred outrage over how the Indian society treats its women, and the way the Indian judicial system meets out punishment for rapists.
On Monday, March 11, 2013, Ram Singh the first of the six accused in the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape was found dead in his cell in the high-security Tihar Jail situated about seven km from Chanakya Puri, to the west of New Delhi. It appeared that Ram Singh had hanged himself at about 05:00 local time, with an improvised rope made from a blanket.
December 16, 2012, was a fateful day for Jyoti Singh Pandey, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern and her 28-year-old friend Awindra Pratap Pandey. Around 9:30 pm, on that day, they were on their way home after seeing the movie “The Life of Pi” in Saket, South Delhi. At Munirka, in South Delhi, India, they saw a parked chartered bus inside which were six men, including the bus driver Mukesh Singh. One of them, a teenager, called them and said the bus was going towards their destination – Dwarka in southwest Delhi. So, they boarded the bus.
After the bus moved, the men on the bus including the driver taunted the couple, asking what they were doing alone at such a late hour. Jyoti and Awindra were perturbed when the bus deviated from its normal route. The young man objected. They beat him with an iron rod until he fell unconscious on the floor of the bus. After gagging him, the men dragged the young woman to the rear of the bus. She attempted to fight off her assailants. She bit three of the attackers that left bite marks on them. Then, they raped her while the bus driver continued to drive. Later, Mukesh Singh, the driver of the bus also raped Jyoti.
Two hours later, the gang threw both their victims from the moving bus. The bus driver then tried to drive the bus over the woman, but her male companion saved her by pulling her away in time from the path of the tires.
Around 11 pm, a passerby found the partially clothed victims on the road and phoned the Delhi Police, who took the couple to Safdarjung Hospital, where Jyoti was given emergency treatment and placed on mechanical ventilation.
Jyoti had injury marks all over her body: on her abdomen, intestines, and genitals. Only 5% of her intestines remained inside her abdomen. Later, after examining her the doctors said the ruffians had used a blunt object for penetrating her genitals. The police suspect that it must have been the rusted iron rod which they initially used to beat Awindra. A doctor at the hospital later said:
“The rod was inserted into herand it was pulled out with so much force that the act brought out her intestines as well. That is probably the only thing that explains such severe damage to her intestines.”
Timeline of events after the rape
Here is a timeline of some of the events that I gathered from the media:
December 18, 2012
Public anger spilled over on the roads as youngsters, politicians, social organizations began their protests condemning the brutal incident.
The police impounded the bus. Within hours of the breakthrough, they arrested four men: the bus driver Mukesh Singh, his brother Ram Singh, gym instructor Vinay Sharma, and fruit seller Pawan Gupta. The police said that Vinay and Pawan confessed to being part of the gang that raped and brutalized and beat up the young woman and her male friend, and their statements would be used to convict the other accused as well.
The police revealed that on the night of the attack, the suspects had gathered at Ram Singh’s house for dinner and drinks before taking the bus for a joyride, fooling travelers who mistook the vehicle for genuine public transport.
Earlier in the day the police arrested the fifth accused. They did not reveal his name because he claimed he was a juvenile. “His age is being verified before giving details. If [he is a] minor, we have to hold back his particulars as per law,” said Delhi police chief Neeraj Kumar.
December 21, 2012
Jyoti gave her statement to a Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), which corroborated the statement given by her friend Awindra Pandey.
Delhi Police arrested the sixth accused, Akshay Thakur fromTandwa area in Bihar’s Aurangabad district.
December 22, 2012
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde announced the government would take immediate steps to amend the criminal law for enhanced punishment in the rarest of rare cases of sexual assault.
Protests demanding justice for the victim and women’s security reached Raisina Hill and Rashtrapati Bhavan. Students clashed with police near Parliament. They were water cannoned and baton charged. Several people were injured. The Delhi Police closed four Delhi Metro stations: Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan and Race Course stations – as a precautionary measure.
December 23, 2012
A three-member commission with Mr. Justice Verma as the Chairperson was set up to suggest changes required in the existing laws to offer better security to Women in India. The other two members are Mr. Gopal Subramanian and Mrs. Leela Seth. Subsequently, Justice Verma said he received 80,000 suggestions from India and abroad after he set January 5, 2013, as a deadline for comments from jurists, women’s groups and other forums to revamp the existing legislation to deal with sex offenders.
December 25, 2012
The Metropolitan magistrate recorded Jyoti Singh’s statement under section 164 of CrPC. Even though unable to speak she preferred to write herself the answer to questions. Investigators said that her answers were consistent on both occasions and matched with the statement provided by her male companion. She correctly scribbled the names of four of her assailants that she remembered hearing during the assault: Ram Singh, Mukesh, Vinay, and Akshay.
December 27, 2012
Under a secret operation, the victim was transferred from Safdarjung hospital to the Palam Air Force station, before being flown to Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore for further treatment.
December 29, 2012
Jyoti lost the battle of life and died of severe organ failure in the hospital in Singapore.
December 30, 2012
Jyoti’s body was flown back to India from Singapore for cremation.
From then on the violent protests turned into peaceful candlelight marches to mourn her death.
January 2, 2013
Lawyers of the Saket District Bar Council refused to defend the accused.
January 3, 2013
18 days after the horrific gang rape, police filed a 33-page charge sheet against five accused: Ram Singh (33), his brother Mukesh (26), fruit seller Pawan Gupta (19), gym instructor Vinay Sharma (20), and bus cleaner Akshay Thakur (29). All five adult suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The accused were formally charged in the Saket fast-track court. They face 13 charges that include murder, gang rape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offenses, dacoity, hurting in committing robbery, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and common intention under the Indian Penal Code. If found guilty they could face the death penalty.
The sixth accused is a juvenile and the Juvenile Justice Board has taken up the proceedings against him.
It is alleged that out of all the six persons who took part in the rape, Mukesh Singh, the bus driver and also the main accused in the case, was the most brutal.
The “juvenile” living on the streets since he was 11, was the most barbaric for he had abused the young woman twice sexually and ripped out her intestines with his bare hands. According to the Hindustan Times, he is the one who suggested throwing the injured woman and her companion from the moving bus. However, because of his age, he will be tried in a juvenile court and the maximum sentence he can receive under existing law is three years.
January 5, 2013
The Mirror News reported that Badri Singh Pandey, the father of the 23-year-old victim of the horrific gang rape had chosen to release her name to the public. Hitherto, the media referred to her using various nicknames since her brutal attack.
“I want the world to know my daughter’s name is Jyoti Singh,” he told Sunday People, one of Britain’s oldest Sunday newspapers, founded in 1881. By revealing his daughter’s name he hoped it will give courage to other women who have survived such attacks.
March 8, 2013
At a function held by the US State Department to honour women across the globe, Jyoti Singh was posthumously presented with the International Women of Courage Award by the United States. Nirupama Rao, the Indian Ambassador to the US, accepted the award, on behalf of the victim’s family. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said:
“Her bravery inspired millions of women and men to come together with a simple message: No more. No more looking the other way when gender-based violence happens. No more stigma against victims or survivors.”
Each year the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th to honour women across the globe. Jyoti Singh was posthumously presented with the International Women of Courage Award by the United States. Nirupama Rao, the Indian Ambassador to the US, accepted the award, on behalf of the victim’s family. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said: “Her bravery inspired millions of women and men to come together with a simple message: No more. No more looking the other way when gender-based violence happens. No more stigma against victims or survivors.”
March 11, 2013
Ram Singh, the first of the accused in the December 16 Delhi gang-rape was found dead in his cell in high-security Tihar Jail. Sunil Gupta, spokesman for the Tihar jail told the BBC that Ram Singh appeared to have hanged himself at about 05:00 local time, with an improvised rope made from a blanket. He said Ram Singh had not been on suicide watch and had been able to make a noose and attach it to a metal grille while his three cellmates were asleep. His body would be taken for a post-mortem examination later on that day, Sunil Gupta added.cellmates were asleep. His body would be taken for a post-mortem examination later on that day, Sunil Gupta added.cellmates were asleep. His body would be taken for a post-mortem examination later on that day, Sunil Gupta added.
Ram Singh, who had migrated from Rajasthan, was the first of the accused to be arrested. He was the driver of the private bus that was normally used to ferry schoolchildren. He was a drunkard with a volatile personality and was known among his close friends as a “mental case” who reportedly started picking up fights at the slightest provocation after the death of his wife two years ago. An accident case was also registered against him. According to his close friends Ram Singh was not remorseful about what he did to the 23-year-old female physiotherapist and her male friend on the fateful night of December 16.
Inspector Anil Sharma, who headed the team investigating the rape case, found Ram Singh a cold and remorseless man. During the investigation, Ram Singh told the Delhi Police that he took pleasure in assaulting women. He also said that he went berserk after the young woman bit him when he assaulted her. The alcohol he had consumed earlier and the defiance by the victims made him angry. He picked up a rod and hit the two badly, and his accomplices also followed suit. He had washed the bus to destroy evidence and had told his gang not to worry and had asked them to lay low for some time.
Mange Lal, Ram Singh’s father said that he had examined his son’s body and found “multiple injuries” including marks on his chest, face, an injured eye and had a badly injured hand and so could not have hanged himself. He also said other inmates had raped his son in prison, and he was constantly threatened by other prisoners and guards. “My son has not committed suicide. He was murdered by the three inmates in his cell,” he shouted at the hospital before being ushered away by policemen.
Ram Singh’s lawyer V K Anand repeated hits allegation. “There has to be some foul play here,” he said. “There were no circumstances which could have led to Ram Singh committing suicide. There was no mental stress. He was very happy. … The trial was going on very well.”
Amid allegations from his family that he Ram Singh was killed, the government ordered an investigation. The postmortem is crucial in determining whether it was a suicide as alleged by jail officials. “Can’t conclude yet that Ram Singh’s death was suicide,” said Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde. He agreed that the death of the bus driver who led the gang that fatally attacked and raped Jyoti Singh is a “grave lapse” and “not a minor incident.”
“All the investigations conducted by us show it is death due to hanging,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, adding that three doctors at the state-run AIIMS hospital had conducted the autopsy.
Two accused, Pawan and Akshay are held in Jail No. 4 while Vinay and Mukesh are in Jail No 7 of Tihar Jail.
Media reports quoting Vimla Mehra, the chief of Tihar prison say there were 18 deaths in the jail last year, of which two were cases of suicide.
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.