Thursday, 26 December 2013

More on the warped mindsets of judges

On my blog I have dealt with the warped mindsets of judges in India and other countries while dealing with cases of crime against women. However, I was very happy to note a two–member bench of the Delhi High Court actually expunging two remarks by a judge of a fast track court who had made "gender biased" and "insensitive" comments about women. The Delhi High Court stated that such comments should not be made. Referring to the judge's comment that women in the age group of 19-24 years voluntarily elope with their lovers, the bench said the remark is "not based on any empirical data". To read further, log on to the Times of India report. Meanwhile, we have a bizarre judgment. This one comes from the United States of America. A US court actually gave a rapist parental rights over the child born of that rape! With the order, a young girl who was 14 when she was raped and became pregnant, becomes bound to the man she wants nothing to do with. The plaintiff and her mother repeatedly informed state officials that they wanted no contact with the man for any purpose and that they did not want the child born of the crime to have a relationship with him. But their pleas were ignored. Patriarchal mindsets completely negate the feelings of the woman and the crime done to her! To read about the case log on to - . Shannon Argueta from the US discusses rape culture and weird judgments at: This is what she says: "This is an unbelievable example of rape culture in this country. This judge is blaming a child for her own rape. When did it become the victim’s fault? When did the law stop expecting rapists to control themselves? This man raped that child; Sexual intercourse without consent is rape! The judge convicted him of rape and then said that the victim was just as much in control of the situation as the perpetrator? I would laugh at the logic if I weren’t so disgusted. Children CANNOT consent to sex! That is why we have laws that are supposed to protect them and acknowledge that they are not mature enough to make that sort of decision. It doesn’t matter if a 14-year-old looks like she is 34. It doesn’t matter if she is mature for her age; A 14-year-old is still a child." In India judges have actually condoned the rape of babies! Yes, you read it right. Here is the link to some shocking judgments and pronouncements by our judges:

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Delhi Bar Council must act

Really glad that the Delhi Bar Council is taking a serious view of the utterances by defence lawyer A P Singh on the 23-year-old victim in the December 16 gangrape case in which she lost her life. The lawyer for two of the convicts is reported to have said, "...if my daughter was having premarital sex and moving around at night with her boyfriend, I would have burnt her alive. I would not have let this situation happen. All parents should adopt such an attitude."
A few questions for him - 1. Is there anything called 'adulthood' in his lexicon? The woman was an adult, free to choose who she wanted to be with, go out with.
2.Does the fact that a woman is out at night with or without a man, give the right to men who come across her to rape her?
3. Why hasn't he made such statements about the men who raped? Were they habitual rapists? Did they indulge in pre and post marital sex? Why is this not being talked about?
4. He would have burnt his daughter alive, he says. What would he do if his son indulged in premarital sex? Boast that he had arrived? Is finally a man?
5. As a lawyer he is extolling parents to kill their daughters. What is wrong with this man?
6. Is he actually advocating that girls be locked up, not allowed to go out so that such situations do not happen? As a lawyer, instead of advocating basic human rights, he is actually preaching that theto freedom of movement, the right to decide who to be with etc etc are curtailed!

I am waiting to see how the Delhi Bar Council will act.

To see the growing frustration of women with the judicial and police systems, watch this video, where a woman hits out at her molester

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Of sexual harassment and gang rapes in India

Another gang  rape. This time in Mumbai. Mumbai, as I used to know it way back in the mid-Seventies was a secure place for women. Unlike Delhi, I could stay out late, board a late night bus, which I often did after my office duty as a journalist, and feel safe. Unlike Delhi, the men in Mumbai were better behaved. They did not grope and pass lewd comments. They were comfortable with women around and did not make them feel like strange objects to be stared at. A taxi driver once went out of his way to drop me to my destination during a particularly heavy monsoon shower, when the city had become waterlogged and came practically to a halt. My attempts at waving taxis to stop was proving futile, for they all had passengers. And then he came along. He told me he was on his way home, but he would drop me at my place, which was in a different direction. To my great surprise he did not ask me for any extra fare.

That was the Mumbai I knew, a safer city for women. But over the years, instead of becoming better, it has deteriorated, become an unsafe metro. This ghastly crime, as well as the New Year assaults on women, show that the city of  Mumbai has sunk to the same pit as Delhi!

This comes soon after a Canadian student on a study tour of India, described her harrowing experience of being in India. What she described and what has driven her into depression so severe that she has to seek treatment for  it, is what Indian women face day in and day out. It is the price they have to pay for "stepping out" of their homes into work spaces, or just to enjoy a movie or eat out. The sad tragedy is that the criminals get seldom punished. Eight months later, despite a fast track special court and the public outrage, the bunch of men who raped the Delhi girl on a bus, are still to be punished. One demon ended his life. Probably he was shamed to face the world! We have had some people clamour for showing leniency to another who was not yet 18! But the act he committed was not an act any child would commit. The hearings are still on.... We are awaiting punishment for the gang of goons. The state has yet to act on behalf of a young girl who lost her life in a most brutal way and her friend who was beaten up. And as we wait, another gang rape.

Why doesn't India act decisively for once? And tell the women that it cares for them!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Take acid attacks seriously - they are worse than murder

I was very dismayed to read Annu Mukherjee's story in the Hindustan Times today. The young woman had surmounted many hurdles to make a decent life for herself and her brother. The acid attackers not only snatched away her means to a livelihood, disfigured and blinded her, but threw her into facing a lonely tragic life. Her brother, who she was was supporting had to stop his studies.  What was extremely heart wrenching was that the attackers also took away Annu's ability to cry. Her eyes have been so disfigured that tears do not come anymore.

And  what was the punishment the attackers got? Five years in jail and a Rs 1,60,000 fine. Today they are roaming free. An inadequate punishment for disfiguring a woman for life, blinding her, snatching away her identity and only source of income, leaving her to a life of penury and loneliness.

The attackers should have been behind bars for life. For they are extremely dangerous to be let out in society. Now that they have been freed, they should be made to contribute towards her medical and living expenses. Fifty per cent of what Meena Khan and her brother earn should go to Annu till she is in a position to support herself by opening the dance school she wants. What do you say?

Earlier post: An acid attack is wrose than murder for it makes life a living hell

And this news item  -

SC curbs acid sale, orders more money for victims

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Serving a poison free meal to our children

The Bihar midday meal tragedy in which over 20 children died after consuming a meal laced with pesticide prepared in their school brings home many well known facts -

1. The facilities in majority of our government run schools are so poor, be it classroom itself, the playground, or the quality of teachers, that it is a crime to call it a school.
2. Providing some sub standard grain and hoping the health of the children improves is a fallacy. Borne out by the fact that even after years of the midday meal scheme, large proportions of Indian children are undernourished, underweight and stunted.
3. The communities these schools serve are so poor and disempowered that they cannot demand their rights to a nourishing, hygienically cooked meal for their children.
4. Therefore, when there are no proper utensils for cooking, or storage, or adequate rations, there is no protest from them or a demand for what is their right.
5. The persons who are enstrusted with the job of preparing the meal get no training in hygiene. India's poor are forced to live in extremely unhygenic conditions and being illiterate and uneducated, they often do not know how such conditions impact their health. In the Bihar case, the person who put the oil in the pesticide container, probably did not realise that pesticide can kill. Probably the person did not know that pesticide should be stored away from food.
And when the children protested over the taste and look of the food cooked, the principal forced them to eat saying nothing could be wrong as the oil had come from her husband's shop.

A question that bothers is why was a pesticide container kept next to the school rations in the first place?

The Bihar government is planning to paint the midday meal safety norms on the walls. Would that help? What happens if the cook is illiterate?
What would help is -

A course in basic hygiene and food storage.

Regular checks by a monitoring team, which should be the members from the community whose children study in the school, or the Village Health and
Sanitation committee or an equivalent local body in the urban areas.

Something that has been seen to work, to improve the standard of the food cooked and served is the involvement of the mothers of the school-going children, be it in procurement, storage and cooking of the rations. It has worked in many parts of Tamil Nadu and I wrote about it three years ago when I saw the state's midday meal programme.

If it can work there, it should work in other states including Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh, home to many midday meal scandals. But for that the 'control' or to use a politically correct word 'management' of the scheme should be in the hands of the parents. The government's role should be of a provider and facilitator, the parents and a teacher representative would be the implementators -- lifting of the rations provided only if they meet a certain quality,  preparing and serving  of the meals. 

More on -
India's midday meal programme
WHO had asked India to ban toxin that killed children

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

This is what makes India special

A lot has been said about India's politicians and her land mafia and their rapacious greed which stops at nothing. The cloudburst, and the floods and landslides that have followed in Uttarakhand and parts of Himachal, were exacerbated by the doings of the politician-land mafia who have mindlessly plundered the region. Hundreds dead, tragedy after tragedy, house collapses, property worth crores lost, the unending suffering ...

Amidst all this, come stories of how our security forces have been helping out. If it were not for them and their selfless service, one shudders to think what more could  have happened. These men, have the nation's gratitude. However, we treat them badly. Our parliamentarians have grudged them small pay hikes, while giving themselves hefty increases. That is another story.

Here I want to focus on what makes India special. It is the generosity of the ordinary Indians. People who have little, but give it unstintingly. These are the people, who rush to help whenever tragedy strikes....while our politicians quibble over turf and upmanship and our rich are slow to open their purses.

I have put together stories that are indeed moving and celebrate that special quality we call humaneness:

Grocery store keeper and friends feed over 800 a day

Chennai pilgrims bring home a hero

Youth took charge

Villagers rescue 43 foreigners

Relief camps by locals

This one celebrates the IAF women pilots
IAF women pilots to the rescue

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

When marriage for a girl is more important than education

A news item in the Times of India:

Father kills daughter for refusing to marry

Some portions from the news item -

KANPUR: A man allegedly killed his 15-year-old girl for refusing to marry a boy of his choice at Virma in Uttar Pradesh's KanpurDehat on Tuesday evening. 

Police said the girl had apparently turned down the proposal saying she was young and wanted to study.

The girl was an intermediate student and had been staying with her maternal uncle in Gudha village to complete her studies. She had returned home for summer vacations.

A police officer said ever since she had returned home, Shukla had been pestering her to accept the marriage proposal.

So what does this say about the society -
  • You should not have an opinion of your own girl. You dare not go against parental wishes. Father knows best. 
  • He can even kill you for opposing him. 
  • Marriage is more important than education.
  • What use is education? Your role in society is to cook, look after your husband and his family,  and bear children.
This is the mindset that has to change. Until then....

Friday, 14 June 2013

Why does this happen?

Lover's family burns girl to death in front of panchayat

Yes, you read it right. The item appeared in Hindustan Times today and I am reproducing it below:

A woman was brutally assaulted and her daughter burnt alive in public view, and in the presence of the village panchayat, Uttar Pradesh Police said Friday. The incident occurred at Karahkol village of Deoria, 475 km from state capital Lucknow.
Police said a girl named Manju was in love with a boy named Ranjit of the same village. The boy's family opposed the relationship, and the matter was taken to the panchayat.

At the panchayat meeting, Manju's mother pleaded that since the two loved each other, they should be allowed to marry.
Incensed by the proposal, Jai Hind, Ranjit's father, and members of his family assaulted Manju's mother Gyanwati and rained blows and kicks on her.
Manju rushed to help her mother as she was being attacked, and members of Ranjit's family doused her with kerosene and set her on fire.
Police reached the spot on being informed of the incident. By that time, Manju, who was taken to a nearby medical facility, had died of burn injuries.
Seven people have been charged with the crime, and two of them have been arrested. Policemen said the absconding five would soon be nabbed.

Questions that have been bothering me:Why didn't anyone from the panchayat or from those who had gathered, try and prevent the boy's father from burning Manju alive? Or do anything to save her? And why did they not protest when her mother was being assaulted?

Shame on the panchayat members! Their mouths, hands and feet were self tied.
They failed to prevent the murder in front of their eyes.

They probably thought by keeping quiet they would be sending a strong message to the community:
Youngsters should not fall in love. 
They should not make independent decisions about their marriage. 
How dare the girl want to marry a man of her choice! 
How dare her mother support the young girl! 
For young girls should not have a say in who they marry. The elders know better. 
It is okay for a man to beat a woman.

The boy's father and other relatives who took part in the crime must be arrested and punished. But, all members of the panchayat in whose presence the murder took place are equally responsible. There is no mention, as yet, of any panchayat member being arrested. 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Please sign the petition -- Justice for Preeti Rathi

The life of Preeti Rathi, a young vivacious girl who was on the verge of starting a career as a nurse, was cut short by a  man who threw acid on her in Mumbai. She was injured so severely that she passed away after fighting a  month-long battle.

Preeti Rathi's father, Amar Singh Rathi,  is making an appeal that you sign the petition demanding an a CBI enquiry into who threw the acid on his daughter.  In his petition he says: " I demand justice for my daughter who suffered so much because of this criminal. After my daughter passed away, I met the home minister of Maharashtra, R.R.Patil, and demanded a CBI enquiry. He promised an enquiry but I have not been provided with any time frame for it. The enquiry has not even started yet.

With every passing day, the chance of nabbing the culprit is getting bleaker. I have started this petition to ensure that the Home Minister keeps his promise and the enquiry is started as soon as possible."

The rising number of acid attacks on young girls is a very worrying trend. Unfortunately, the punishment so far meted out to such criminals hardly matches the severity of the life-long damage they inflict on the women.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Dear Reader, Would you be interested in reading this story?


A blue sequined dupatta was wound around her face. Only her eyes could be seen. She had collected the medicines from the chemist and was coming down the steps as I went in. If I had not been so preoccupied with my problems, I might have thought she looked rather strange. Why would a woman cover her face so?

But stranger still: She called out my name. I turned towards her. Who was she and how did she know me?

If only the dupatta would come undone. If only she would pull it off…I would recognize her... “Tanu. I am Tanu,” she was saying by way of explanation.

“Tanu who?” I asked. This was like the film magazines of my younger days or the MTV of today that give you snapshots of body parts and then ask who they belong to.

The summer breeze played with the edges of the dupatta that fell on her shoulders. But so deftly was it wrapped around her face that it would take a demon of a wind to unwind it.…. She lifted her eyes to stare back at me.

Oh yes! I had met the eyes. In the hospital next to Mami’s bed. It was THE TANU. “How are you?” I asked.

“I am back at the hospital. I am getting admitted today. Another operation.” I looked over her shoulder and in the vicinity beyond hoping to see him. And he was there, standing a little away as he always did. Quiet. Distant, but watchful. If he recognized me, he did not show it...

Tanu had sharp chiseled features framed by a thick curtain of straight hair, which she tied in a loose ponytail. Her lips were an inverted C, pulled down at the corners, like the arc of a bow. But every now and then, they would lift into a captivating smile, keeping you hooked.

Tanu had occupied the bed next to Lakshmi Mami's at the hospital. I had been struck by her perfect features when I first saw her six months ago as she lay absolutely still under the heavy blanket. She looked young and very forlorn, I couldn't help asking her why she was there. She uttered just one word, "Operation" and looked away. She clearly did not wish to speak.

During my daily hour-long visits over the ten days that Mami spent at the hospital, Tanu opened up. To tell me the story of her life. A strange tale of longing, deceit, acceptance and love…

Now, as I stood facing her at the chemist, I wanted to ask her about him. The man who never visited, but who she called everyday. The man who she would talk to late into the night even after the nurses had turned down the lights, while the other man sat quietly on the attendant’s bed and watched.

Had HE come with her this time?

Dear Reader,
Does this blurb make you want to read the true life story? If yes, do send me a message at . I would value your opinion. I am trying my hand at a short story for the first time and your reaction would give me an indication if  I am set on the right track!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

An acid attack is worse than murder for it makes life a living hell

This was one of those posts that I began and then gave up midway. It was lying as a 'draft' for months. And for the past few days, ever since Preeti Rathi's case made the headlines,  I have been thinking a lot on the subject of acid attacks.

Acid attacks is one of the most barbaric crimes. In India, the perpetrators are usually men who cannot take ‘no’ for an answer and so seek to destroy the woman. The crime is so horrific that the woman is disfigured for life. She loses her identity, her future and with it the will to live. Everything is destroyed and some victims have described the attack apart from the searing pain, physical torture and disfigurement, as something worse than death.

Every other day we hear of an acid attack on a young woman. Delhi alone saw 56 acid attacks over a span of three months.

The recent amendments to the law give ten years to a maximum of life imprisonment to the criminal for destroying another human being. The punishment should be for life, nothing less! There shouldn't be bail for such a horrific crime. A person who can willfully destroy another human being in this fashion, is very dangerous to have around and should be behind bars.

Even though the Justice Verma committee had recommended life imprisonment for the culprits, our law makers reduced it to ten years of imprisonment and some fine. The new law has nothing on the rehabilitation of the victim, who needs to spend on reconstructive surgery, usually falls into depression, and finds it hard to get employment and carry on a normal life. Till date, there has been no effort to curb the sale of the corrosive acid which is very easy to procure and available in every market.

Why is there such leniency towards the culprits? All I can say is that our law makers have failed to feel the pain and the horror of an acid attack and what it can do to a woman. They have done nothing for her rehabilitation.

Recent cases of acid attacks

The new law does not help victims

And this - Acid attacks in Italy -

Monday, 27 May 2013

An American son -in-law or an American daughter-in-law? Any guesses, who Indians prefer?

Indians settled in the United States have a saying, "If you are lucky you will get an American son-in-law, and if unlucky,  you will get an American daughter-in-law!'

And in this statement lies the essence of India's traditions, so bound against the woman. An American son-in-law is welcome for he will behave like a normal human being, expect no  dowry, no special favours , and not expect to be treated like a demi-god. He will help your daughter around the house, and when he comes over for a visit or even a meal he will share the chores and  wash the dishes. What a relief in a country where there are no servants!

But an American daughter-in-law would also behave like a normal human being, not sacrificing her interests, or subjugating her will, or herself to her in-laws who expect to be treated as the most important people in her life. She will not let them take all her decisions -  what she should wear,   what she should cook for her husband, when she should have a child, how she should look after the baby, what food to give the baby, when she should visit her family and friends ... the list can go on. The poor in-laws! She has robbed them of all the pleasures they thought would be theirs when they became the parents of a boy, their ticket to lifelong security, salvation and a pretty gilded slave, to carry out all their biddings!

What is more, the American daughter-in-law doesn't even bring dowry, and worse, makes their precious son work in the kitchen and around the house. Indian mothers, as you know, cannot bear the sight of their sons in the kitchen.

So great is the longing for a son among Indian parents, that they do not hesitate to do away with the daughter. For in these days of high costs it is expensive bringing up a child and who wants daughters when they would rather have a son. So as Indian families become smaller, the girl is sacrificed. Like this father in Hyderabad tried to do. Even as I write, somehow calling him a 'father' seems so bizarre.  A person like him should be called a fiend and put behind bars. But no, in our society behaving in this shocking way against the female of the species is tolerated. The sympathy is with the poor man for being saddled with a daughter!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Another heart-warming story

Another heart warming story of India's children. With just a little guidance, this is what they can achieve -
A rag picker enters the National Institute of Design and wants to design automobiles. But first he wants to design an aid that will reduce the burden of the LPG delivery man as he struggles with a cylinder over flights of stairs.
Why is it that such an aid has not been desgined before? We have had the LPG cyclinders for over 50 years now and the delivery man has been struggling since then with his heavy burden.No one thought of it before, least of all the oil companies.
I wonder why is that so? Is it because no one thinks of the hardship of the poor? Of  how life can be made just a little comfortable for them?

Monday, 29 April 2013

The rising cases of child sexual abuse

Every day, we are horrified by the many cases of sexual abuse of children which are being reported. They have become a sickening reality of our times. One that shows the rot in our society, of how maladjusted some of us are. Girls and even little boys are no longer safe even in their own homes.

I recently read a very comprehensive article on the subject and am providing the link. It also has some suggestions.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Proud of you, Zubeen Garg!

Good to know we have an artiste who can stand up and fight for what he believes in. And that he will not be censored.

The United Liberation Front for Assam ( or ULFA),  true to its form, issued a ban on performing Hindi songs during a function in Guwahati to celebrate Bihu, the Assamese new year.  While other musicians gave in to the diktat, not Zubeen. He is reported to have said, "No power can dictate an artiste. We have our own freedom. I have earned nationwide fame singing Hindi songs. It is our national language. Who are they to say Hindi songs will destroy Assamese culture. It is an outdated ridiculous idea."

So proud of you Zubeen Garg! You sing so well in Hindi. I believe you can sing in many Indian languages and sound like the native. I would love to hear you sing in Assamese too. I wish we had more music festivals all over the country where singers from different parts of the country sing in different languages.

Great art in any form,  while it may have strong local roots, reaches for the world.  It can't and shouldn't be curbed.

Music knows no boundaries.  Glad you stood your ground against the rowdy censors!

More links to posts on Rowdy Censorship
Extremists frigthen us into silence  
A film maker who stood up to the rowdy censors

Zubeen provided security

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

We can't see women do what they want

The Indian society has an issue. It cannot see women enjoy themselves. So used are they to images of long suffering women who sacrifice their happiness in the interest of their families, that when they see women out for an evening, wearing clothes they want, enjoying a drink, they are unable to come to terms with it. Be it the Mufti (religious leader) in Kashmir or the media in Andhra. Be it the north or the south of India, the mindset is the same. Could vary in degrees!

I was very disappointed in the media which did a story on these bunch of girls coming out of a restaurant in Hyderabad. They were made out to be a bunch of drunk women by the regional media. To me they seem very upset over being filmed without their permission. And why should anyone just take their pictures?

Is there a shortage of stories for the media to cover? Just get out of your comfort zone and see the tragedy all around --farmers killing themselves, women dying in childbirth, children who are out of school, women being tortured for dowries, poverty, ill health , corruption, a whole lot of negative stories. And if you want to be positive, capture our hardworking people using their imagination to survive, honest citizens doing their best to live a dignified life, parents working hard to give their children a decent education, scientists, industrialists, the music, the dance...

Where is the dearth of stories for the media?
At the same time, I am very encouraged that these young women have decided to fight for their right to be, and are demanding compensation from all the channels which strangely cannot find a worthwhile story to do, that  they have to pounce on women out for an evening. 

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Aarushi - Hemraj murder case

As a former journalist, I am deeply ashamed at the manner in which the Indian media covered the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case.
As an Indian, I am very disturbed by the manner in which the police conducted itself, the lack of professionalism that it exhibited and the way the investigative agencies goofed up. It is frigthening and does not bode well.
As a woman, I grieve for her parents, the Talwars.
And as a human being, I wish the murderers are found and punished.

I am giving you the link to one of the most poignant and balanced accounts I have read about the murder case. It is written by  , a cousin of Aarushi's mother, Nupur. It must have been tough for Paradkar to do the story. How do you maintain professionalism when you are emotionally connected? But she has shown it can be done.

The link to the article -

Now, a ebook on the case by her -

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Ford: dented and painted!

A sexist ad?
Sure! Repulsive too.
Why do car manufacturers have to use female bodies to sell cars? Are the features of their cars not good enough? When a car company has to use props like these, here a disgraced public figure too, wont you stop to think Why?
We are told that Ford got a big boot - three grown up women together in one!

 Now, who would want a car which gets driven by a criminal and treats its female passengers so badly that it puts them in the boot? Only a senile person.

Ford has apologized. The ad company has fired the creators of this masterpiece. Now this is where I will use a very Indian phrase, espoused by none other than our President's son: "dented and painted" for this car manufacturer and this whole ad episode.    

Friday, 22 March 2013

More gang rapes and a new law

Today three ghastly stories of  rape were reported. Two of them were of gang rape, and one was about a sessions court announcing the punishment for the founder of a home for orphans in Mumbai who had raped the inmates under his care, often with accomplices.  Each of these stories is a chilly reminder of how unsafe it is to be a girl or a woman in India. These crimes come in the wake of the gang rape of a Swiss tourist as she camped with her husband in Madhya Pradesh and a British tourist who jumped from the  first floor balcony of her hotel when the owner tried to assault her.  

Links to the three articles -

But today, there is a difference. For along with the these terrible cases was the news was that the Upper House of Parliament, Rajya Sabha,  had passed the anti-rape law which provides for stringent punishment to offenders of sexual violence, and makes stalking a crime in India (for the first time and high time!)

The law is somewhat a watered down version of the recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee. The debate in Lok Sabha saw our elected legislators sniggering, laughing, making outrageous comments during discussions on the bill. It showed the mindsets of the persons we elect as leaders  A very sad commentary, indeed. But I am a born optimist and I see the new law as a step in the right direction. Look: At least they found the time to discuss the issue, which had been pushed into oblivion by our political worthies for decades. It took the very tragic and brutal death of a student following a gang rape  in a bus that moved on the streets of  South Delhi to to shake the country out of its stupor. If this could happen in South Delhi,  India's poshest area, what would be the situation be for women elsewhere? Shudder!

Our leaders showed their utter ignorance of the reality for the Indian woman by making stupid outrageous remarks. Wish women could band together and see that men like these never get elected for another term. I think the time is coming when this will be a reality. The out-of-sync leaders will be shaken off as dead wood. And it will be the urban  young educated women and men who will be leading the charge. We saw the wonderful and spontaneous way they came out demanding that the country be made safer for women.  

The law that was passed could have been stiffer. Why  are the perpetrators of acid attacks not being given life imprisonment? The number of women in India who become victims to acid attacks by men who cannot take 'no' for an answer is just too large to be ignored. These women are scarred for life. And the man receives little or no punishment, and goes about living a normal life. It is sad that the legislators did not view the crime with the seriousness it deserves. 

And marital rape failed to find mention. Also, even boys are raped. I have come across brutal cases of homosexuals having been  raped, two of them by policemen!

But I am glad that our legislators have at least started noticing that crime against woman needs to be tackled. And have started talking about the issue. The safety of our girls and women, and of those who come to this land as visitors, should be given paramount importance. For a home, or a country, where women feel unsafe has a lot to introspect on.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Death penalty for killing a male child, life imprisonment for raping minor daughter and killing her and wife

The Supreme Court of India through a judgment has shown that it places more 'value' on a male child than a female child and a woman.

The following report appeared in the Times of India today:

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered death penalty to a man who murdered a seven-year-old boy after kidnapping him for ransom, justifying the capital punishment on several grounds, including that killing the sole male child meant that the family lineage could not be carried forward.

Citing disruption of family lineage as one of the seven aggravating grounds why they thought the convict deserved no leniency, a bench of Justices P Sathasivam and J S Khehar said, "The choice of kidnapping the particular child for ransom was well planned and consciously motivated. The parents of the deceased had four children — three daughters and one son. Kidnapping the only male child was to induce maximum fear in the mind of his parents. Purposefully killing the sole male child has grave repercussions for the parents of the deceased."

The bench continued, "Agony for parents for the loss of their male child, who would have carried further the family lineage, and is expected to see them through their old age, is unfathomable. Extreme misery caused to the aggrieved party certainly adds to the aggravating circumstances."   For the complete report click on this link.
Barely a week ago, the Supreme Court had commuted death penalty awarded to a man for raping his minor daughter and then killing her and his wife.  Both the trial court and the high court had awarded death to the man.  But the Supreme Court lessened his punishment to life and went further, leaving it open for remission.  (I had posted on this) 

When educated learned judges of the highest court of the land place more value on a male life than that of the female, then we cannot expect ordinary families to treat their girls on par with their sons. So one thing is certain: It will be quite a while before things change for the Indian girl. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Singing girls screamed at into silence

Three 16-year-olds who got together to sing in Kashmir  have been forced to stop singing. After their first public concert where they got the third prize.

A fatwa was issued against them by the 'Grand Mufti'.

We were told that it was because singing is 'Unislamic'. They were 'advised' to sing to themselves, at home.
Then we got to hear that 31 bands played at the concert, but no fatwa was issued against them.

The reason why this 3 member band attracted the wrath of the Grand Mufti was because they were girls.
So the argument that singing is unislamic falls flat.

Then we were told it is because they were a 'rock band', a Western influence in the pristine land of Kashmir. Please forget the fact that the land has for long been ravaged by the deadly terrorists from across the border who kill innocents in the name of holy war. But we have yet to hear religious leaders issue fatwas against these men who kill and maim. It seems some among these religious men believe that it is better to hold a gun than a guitar. But only if the hands that hold the guitar are those of a woman. For the many male bands who played at the concert, had the guitar. So, even the argument of the 'Western influence' falls flat. The influence cannot be 'good' for men, and 'lethal' for women!

Then on Arnab Goswami's show a self-style leader proclaimed, "They were dancing."

"They were showing body parts," said another of these worthies. 

Surely, they were standing and singing. They might have taken a few steps.  So did the male singers of other bands. If  faces and hands are exposed body parts, then yes, they could be held guilty. But so were the men.

In reality, the protest happened because they were girls and the society has double standards for women 'enjoying' themselves, taking part in anything that soothes the senses, brings about a sense of joy or exhiliration. The same self-style leaders will not protest if these girls were to pick up rifles, or even stones.

One veiled woman who spat words of hate on Arnab's TV show called for a boycott of the girls' families. It made me wonder was she envious of them - of their youth, their talent or the fact that their 'very Islamic families' were supporting them?

This veiled woman and the many men who have raised their voices against the all-girl band wished to silence the teenagers. And they did. That is the saddest part. The girls have decided to stop singing. That a few very vocal elements can tell us how to lead our lives, how to dress and how to behave is very scary.

And what a shame that instead of nuturing and encouraging talent, we silence it into oblivion.

But I also learnt that the youth of state took out a protest march. That gives some hope. That they are willing to speak up. But it seems no one has the guts to take on the Mufti.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

This judgment makes no sense to me!

A man rapes a minor daughter. His wife lodges an FIR, he is found guilty and sent to jail for 12 years. Out on parole, he hacks his wife and daughter to  death with an axe. Another daughter watches the killings, runs and shuts herself in a room. After her father runs away from the scene of crime, she comes out.
The Supreme Court judges deciding the case converted the
death penalty into imprisonment for entire life. This is what  Justices Sathasivam and Kalifulla are reported to have noted: "One significant factor in this case, which we should not lose sight of is that he did not harm his other daughter even though he had a good chance for the same." Read the report in Times of India.

I have some issues with the judgment -

1. Is not a rape of a minor followed by two murders where the bodies are hacked not "brutal enough" to be "the rarest of the rare" category?

2.I wonder why the judges feel that because he did not kill his other daughter the law should be lenient for him? She reportedly shut herself in a room and saved herself. Why should the 'credit for not killing' (for that is what the judges appear to have considered) be given to the culprit?  Using the same reasoning it could be said that as he did not kill or rape other women he came in contact with while out on parole, his punishment reduced. Sounds absurd?

3. I am puzzled by another observation by the judges of our highest court.TOI  reports-
Justice Sathasivam, writing the judgment for the bench, said,
"It was highlighted that he being a poor man and unable to earn his livelihood since he was driven out of his house by his deceased wife. It is also his claim that if he was allowed to live in the house, he could easily meet both his ends and means, as the money which he was spending by paying rent would have been saved. It is his further grievance that his deceased wife was adamant and he should live outside and should not lead happy married life and that was the reason that their relations were strained."

Now, once a man has raped his minor daughter, the mother would be out of her senses to let the man continue to stay in the same house as her and the child. She would want to protect her daughter/s. Moreover, it is her choice if she wants to live with the man or have him move out. Which self respecting woman would continue to live with a man who rapes his own daughter? And then, just because he was not allowed to live in the house, is no excuse to kill.

Why should the judges even consider such utterances by the criminal and make it a ground for reducing the punishment?

When will our judges stop looking at cases from the narrow lens of patriarchy? Why don't they see the woman's point of view?

And what is also horrifying that the judges believe that such a man can be reformed! And have kept the case open for remission.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Rape culture in India and Nigeria

Amaka Okafor-Vanni writes about rape culture in Nigeria in the Guardian.
She makes many important points that resound in India.
I am quoting some in this post  -
Rape is primarily about power and its abuse. Within the Nigerian context, it is the punishment for wishing to be independent, for daring to threaten the status quo, the societal power dynamics. It is not about modesty neither is it about what the victim wore or her behaviour because as we all know, modestly dressed women are raped all the time...
...The modesty culture we preach is a rape culture because of our insistence on female purity and modesty. Why is it the sole responsibility of the female to remain chaste? Why isn't the male tasked with chastity? By focusing on the female, we reduce the woman to mere flesh and place control over the female body and sexuality in male hands. When she is sexually violated who do we infer to as "dishonoured"?
To read the article click here .

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Rapist who committed the crime in his car has his driving licence revoked

It was very heartening to read this bit of news in Indian Express today - 

The state transport department said from now on licences of people accused of rape using a motor vehicle would be suspended as soon as a chargesheet is filed, and cancelled permanently upon conviction. Licences could be cancelled even for old convictions, the department said.

A Gwalior Road Transport Officer M P Singh used powers under Section 19(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act on Friday to revoke the licence of Vishwambhar Gurjar who abducted a schoolgirl in his Bolero before raping and dumping her. Two others convicted with him, Rakesh Singh and Niranjan Singh, don’t have licences, and will never get one in Madhya Pradesh because their details and photos have been blacklisted... 

Kudos for the Madhya Pradesh state transport department  and Mr M P Singh in particular!  The state transport commissioner Sanjay Choudhary has said that the transport authority would also cancel licences of those convicted in the past if the police sent them details. They must! Hope the public sentiments will force them to do so.

And hopefully  the example set by Madhya Pradesh will be followed by other states.

To read the news item click here.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Crime against women, people act

The need is to act. To do something about the high levels of crime against women in India. (Click here for a rape map of India). But our politicians and leaders are busy moralising, telling us of dented and painted women, of what happens to women who cross the Lakshman rekha (the line which a woman should not cross), and as usual are giving lectures to women on how to behave. To see and learn about what  India’s political and spiritual worthies have to say on women cick here

The police, who so far have only shown a high degree of indifference to crime against women and have even been party to molestation and rapes, have yet to demonstrate that they mean business.

So it is left only to the public to act. Apart from the protests in various parts of the country, some public initiatives -

The brave man, Srikant Bhardwa, who lost his life trying to rescue a woman from a pack of molesters in Ranchi.

In Assam women and some men caught and beat up a politician, Bikram Singh Brahma  of the ruling Congress party, after he raped a woman.

The reaction to self proclaimed spiritual leader Asaram's inane statement about the girl was to blame was vocal and furious.

A Delhi-based entrepreneur, Srikant Sastri, has started a campaign  'Save The Republic - Resign Before January 26th' asking MPs and MLAs who have been accused of crime against women needs our support. To read more about it click here

Thursday, 3 January 2013

More questions for our leaders

A question for the Madhya Pradesh BJP minister

Mr Kailash Vijayavargiya says women who cross the line will be punished. What about the men who do so? What about the men, Mr Minister? Why are you silent on them? Ravan was killed for kidnapping Sita.

And for the RSS chief Bhagwat , who said "Rapes occur in India, not Bharat"

Sadly, rapes occur in Bharat too. Except that most go unreported. Who will come out and lodge a complaint? And the brave girls who do, see what happens to them.
Just read the following links Mr Bhagwat -

How many of us know how to give?

A beautiful quote on giving from the Bhagwad Gita -

A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.
Visit to discover Indian blogs
My Blog Directory