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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day Tribute to Clara Fraser: Synthesizer of Marxism and feminism

“What better fate can a person carve out than participation in the emancipation of humanity?” Clara Fraser posed this question and answered it by living bravely, with commitment, relish and inimitable style. Fifteen years after her death, Fraser’s life still inspires. And her groundbreaking synthesis of socialism and feminism can be clearly seen as a breakthrough contribution to Marxist thought. 

Fraser always insisted that she had not discovered socialist feminism. It’s true that all the great Marxists advocated women’s liberation. But it was Fraser who showed just how essential the dynamics of sex and race are to the fight for change in the current era. 

The Permanent Revolution meets feminism. Beginning more than a century ago, socialists including Karl Marx, Frederick Engels, V.I. Lenin, Clara Zetkin, and Leon Trotsky showed that women’s emancipation was crucial to the struggle for socialism. 

Still, many leftists regarded the “Woman Question” as divisive and secondary. Female leadership was discouraged and treated with condescension. These inflexible, conservative and largely male radicals were stunned by the social upsurges that began in the late 1950s. They regarded the explosions of people of color, women, students and queers as sidebars and aberrations from the “real” class struggle waged by white male unionists in heavy industry. 

But Clara Fraser was not surprised. She had been paying attention to the political vitality of the second sex: female union militants like her mother, hard-working sister-comrades on the Left, and grass-roots Black civil rights organizers, who had been molded by their multiple forms of oppression into “figure[s] of independence, self-reliance, responsibility and resourcefulness.” 

Indeed, said Fraser, “Feminism, the struggle for women’s equal rights, is always a powder keg of the class struggle.” She saw that the leadership of women — especially women of color and lesbians — would drive the whole movement forward. 

Fraser explained that the race question and the woman question share a dual nature. Each is a unique problem with its own logic, history, and needs. But exploitation on the job connects both women and people of color to the class struggle. Women of color, in whom the threads of race and gender combine, are pivotally placed to clarify the issues and unite the movements. 

This analysis grew from Fraser’s understanding of Trotsky’s concept of Permanent Revolution as a continuous and international process whose main force is the unmet demands of the most oppressed. These are inherently revolutionarydemands because they cannot be met under capitalism. 

Fraser recognized the outbreak of dynamic movements for equality as a feature of Permanent Revolution and a necessary solution to the problems of a conservatized and stratified labor movement. 

U.S. unions were terribly weakened by the anti-communist witch-hunts of the 1950s that drove out radicals and civil rights advocates. The union bureaucracy largely rejected the movements of the 1960s and withdrew into collaboration with the government and subservience to the Democratic Party. This retreat has sapped the labor movement to the point where only about 13 percent of the U.S. workforce is unionized today. Youth, women and people of color, though they are together themajority of workers, are generally either outside the unions or are reduced to second-class status within them. 

Fraser foresaw that “the very survival of labor organizations requires that a new revolutionary wing in the unions emerge. The initial impulse ... will come from people and issues within the class but outside the unions.” 

These rebels call on unions to shake off conservatism and go beyond limited economic demands to fight for reforms such as affirmative action and childcare. Such issues can not only mobilize labor but also radicalize it, by showing that every reform won under capitalism is temporary. As Trotsky phrased it, the demands of the most oppressed help working people “find the bridge between their present demands and the socialist program of the revolution.” 

Journey of a leader. Clara was born on March 12, 1923, and raised in a multicultural East Los Angeles ghetto by Jewish immigrant parents. Her socialist mother was a garment worker and her father was an anarchist and truck driver. She worked her way through college and then joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP). 

She was lucky to be in the SWP’s Los Angeles branch while it was led by Murry Weiss, a brilliant theorist and writer, and Myra Tanner Weiss, a dynamic leader who stressed the importance of the Woman Question. The two were close collaborators with James P. Cannon, the founder of the SWP and U.S. Trotskyism. 

In 1948, Clara moved to Seattle to assist the SWP local there. This branch became distinctive for its high level of activism in the midst of the McCarthyite 1950s and for its theoretical work on Black liberation. Along with a group of cothinkers in Seattle and Los Angeles, she helped Richard Fraser, her second husband, develop the concept of Revolutionary Integration. 

This landmark theory demonstrates that the main direction of Black struggle in the U.S. has been toward integration and equality, not separation; that this aspiration can only be achieved through socialism; and that Black leadership and an onslaught against racism are crucial to unifying a working class divided and corrupted by white privilege. 

Unfortunately, the increasingly bureaucratic SWP leadership rejected this revolutionary approach to Black liberation. In 1965, the SWP banned discussion of dissident views at its conventions, a death blow to democracy within the party. In January 1966, the Seattle branch resigned. 

Birth of a new party. Within five months, the Seattle branch was reorganized as the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) with a Trotskyist program of internationalism, socialist feminism, and Revolutionary Integration. Two years later, the FSP split over its first test of feminism in practice — the right of female radicals to be both activists and mothers, which the party majority affirmed. 

For a short time during its early history, the FSP was an all-woman party led by Clara Fraser and her close colleagues Melba Windoffer and Gloria Martin. But that soon changed as a younger generation of men began to join. 

To the predominantly male Left, the FSP was an aberration: a Leninist party led by a woman? Socialist feminism? No way! 

Fraser was familiar with these attitudes: “Ever since feminists organized the modern movement in the ’60s, we have been harangued from all sides for being insane, unfulfilled, petty-bourgeois, narcissistic, frivolous, home-wreckers, strident bitches, dykes, man-haters, and enemies of civility and civilization.” 

However, Fraser knew, revolution against capitalism requires a vanguard party to guide and unite workers. Despite the scoffers, she took on the mammoth project of creating such a party. This feat was made even more difficult because much of the Left gave the feminist FSP no credibility. 

But Fraser excelled at the “continuous, consistent, and conscious building” that James P. Cannon described as necessary for forming a party to defeat the profit system. She stressed theoretical grounding, unshakable principles, involvement in the issues of the day, and an internationalism that recognizes the U.S. revolution as key to progress elsewhere. She emphasized James Cannon’s tradition of collaborative leadership, writing and publishing, class-struggle unionism, left regroupment and never, ever, giving up without a fight. Due to her skills, tough love, and example, the FSP has survived, flourished, and stayed true to its roots for 47 years. 

Ideas into action. Fraser’s political achievements, accomplished as a working mother of two sons, would fill volumes. 

Soon after moving to Seattle, she became a leader in a lengthy 1948 strike against Boeing, her employer at the time. She organized Seattle’s Fair Play for Cuba Committee after the 1959 revolution. In 1967, she and an unusual collaboration of women from the Old and New Left founded Radical Women (RW) to provide a feminist voice within male-dominated movements and to allow women to develop their own leadership in an autonomous, but never separatist, organization. 

With Black women coworkers in the anti-poverty program, Fraser launched the battle for legalized abortion in Washington State. She organized for community control of the police and defense of the Black Panthers, participated in Native American fishing rights actions, helped win job protections on the basis of sexual orientation and political ideology, and provided a humanist Jewish voice against Zionism. 

She was a creative strategist for numerous legal fights over the right to be radical. Of note: her eight-year-long sex and political ideology discrimination case against her employer, Seattle City Light; and the Freeway Hall Case, in which Fraser and other FSP leaders won the right of dissident groups to keep internal records out of the hands of political opponents and courts. 

Fraser also reconnected with Murry and Myra Weiss and other former SWP leaders who had left the SWP as it degenerated. Together they initiated the Committee for a Revolutionary Socialist Party to seek left regroupment. Although this venture eventually foundered — the sticking point was feminism — Murry Weiss was tremendously impressed by socialist feminism and joined FSP. He contributed to the party until his death in 1981. 

The socialist battle for a better world to which Fraser devoted her life continues on, decisively strengthened by her legacy. Those who follow in her footsteps will find, as she did, that “the act of fighting injustice is full of hope and joy ... an innate historical tradition, an ancient reaching out for universal human fulfillment.” 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------       By Tamara Turner
                                                                                                                                 Freedom Socialist Party

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Protest Against the Rape of Five Year Old in Delhi

April 20, 2013

AIPWA and AISA Protest Against the Rape and Brutalising of Five Year Old and the Police Attempt to Hush Up the Case Demanding the Resignation of Delhi Police Commissioner, Dismissal and Punishment for Police Officers for Dereliction of Duty and Slapping a Woman Protestor

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Cabinet's Anti rape Bill - Correcting the Misinformation

हिन्दी अनुवाद नीचे है। 

Much of the media is running a deliberate misinformation campaign against the new anti-rape Bill, and the openly anti-women organisations are the fountainhead of this campaign. Here is a quick guide to navigate the perplexed through the smokescreen of 'debates' on TV! 


Age of consent has NOT been 'lowered' suddenly from 18 to 16. Age of consent in India, since 1983, has BEEN 16 years. It was raised to 18 four months back by the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), and a month back by the ordinance. Remember, the Bekhauf Azadi campaignopposed the move to raise it to 18 - and the Govt has now seen sense and agreed to keep it at 16. 

Age of consent at 16 does not mean 'licence' or 'encouragement' for teen sex.

The debate is not 'is teen sex good or not' but, 'is consensual sex between teens to be defined asRAPE or not.' Because what is being drafted is a CRIMINAL law, not a moral or a social code. If the age of consent is raised to 18, it means that young boys between 16-18 will be punished as rapist/sexual offenders EVEN if their girlfriend of the same age says clearly that she consented to being touched! 

What about the argument that age of marriage is 18, why should age of consent for sex be different?

Well, firstly, a minor boy who marries a minor girl is not punishable under the law for child marriage. So, why should a minor teenage boy who holds the hand of, hugs, kisses - or has sex with - a minor teenage girl of a similar age, WITH HER CONSENT, be punishable as a sexual offender/rapist? The law against Child Marriage prevents PARENTS from taking life-decisions on behalf of minor children. It also gives the couple the right to decide, once they are adults, whether or not they will continue in the marriage.

At the age of 16-18, it is true that pregnancy is not advisable medically. But it is equally true that mutual attraction between the sexes is absolutely natural at that age. What is needed is to equip youngsters to understand their body, respect and not despise that attraction, but also to deal responsibly with that attraction. What is NOT needed is to criminalise that attraction and brand innocent young boys as rapists just because they have consensual sexual contact with a young girl of their own age. Boys who are thus wrongly branded as rapists for a consensual relationship will only end up fearing/hating women and a distorted perception of sexuality and women, and therefore will be more likely to become violent towards women!

Moreover, we live in a world where moral policing is a huge danger to young people's lives and choices. Under the POCSO, a third party (parents, moral policing outfits, khaps, anyone) can file a complaint of rape against a young teenage boy, and the judge in Court will have to convict the boy ignoring the girl's plea that it was with her consent. That is why many judges have pleaded that the age of consent be retained at 16 and not raised to 18, so they are not forced to convict young kids of rape even when it is obvious that the sexual contact was by consent: see instances of judges' opinions:

Think of the latest Tata sky ad, where a brother is shown deciding whether or not to 'give permission' to his sister to go out for dinner with a guy. If age of consent is raised to 18, making any sexual contact between youngsters automatically 'rape', these brothers who want to control their sisters' freedom will use it accuse any boy/male classmate/friend who befriends their sister! So will gender biased police forces who anyway harass couples even for sitting in parks together!


Voyeurism is NOT 'staring' or 'ghoorna'!! Uploading a photo of a girl on facebook etc is not voyeurism either. If a man makes a sex MMS or nude pic of his girlfriend and circulates it, it will be voyeurism, since it violates her privacy. If a woman is in a changing room in a clothes shop and there is a secret peephole or secret camera allowing some man to spy on her, then it is voyeurism. Ram Singh, the main accused in the Delhi gang-rape case, too was allegedly a voyeur, a neighbour of his told Reuters that "Sometimes, while we were changing clothes or bathing, he would peep into our house. When confronted, he would be very rude and say it's his right to stand anywhere." Basically, voyeurism is spying on someone in a way that violates their privacy. This law protects men too.


What is stalking? Think of the film Darr - 'tu han kar ya na kar, tu hai meri sanam' is stalking. Repeatedly following someone, sending threatening mails/texts warning of acid attacks or rape/murder - that's stalking, and it is a terror many women face with NO remedy yet. 

We struggled on the streets, not just to punish rapists but to PREVENT rapes and murders and acid attacks from happening. Remember Priyadrshini Mattoo? She made repeated police complaints against stalking by Santosh Singh. But there was no law under which he could be arrested for stalking - and so he went on to rape and murder her. 

Acid attacks as well as rapes and murder (like the killing of Radhika Tanwar at Dhaula Kuan) are often preceded by stalking.

Why should repeated stalking be non-bailable? Because a stalker who is willing to throw acid or shoot someone dead, will go ahead and do it double quick if a woman files a complaint. It is important he is arrested before he can do what he threatens. 

Stalking is easier to prove than murder or rape! Stalking often has witnesses and documented evidence (threatening letters, recordings of phone calls, etc). Only on the basis of this will the crime be proved and someone punished. 


If a woman files a false complaint against a man, what legal remedy does he have?

Legal remedies already exist in the IPC - sections 182 and 211. These legal remedies to punish false complaints exist because there is not a single law that is not misused.The question is - why include a special provision against false complaints separately in the law against rape and sexual assault?! Such a clause would only deter women from filing any complaints.

Let's remember, it's because of our movement that this Bill came into being. It's not an anti-men Bill, it's a Bill to protect all people - including men - from sexual violence. That's why we have asked that the VICTIM in the Bill be kept as gender neutral (the Bill has again made it gender specific vis a vis victim, i.e only women can be victims, and we are asking govt and parliament to correct this). 

It's thanks to our struggle that the Govt has agreed to change what was worst about the ordinance.

The accused in the rape law has been retained as 'gender specific' (because women do not rape men); age of consent has been retained as 16; the Bill clarifies that the prior santion protection will not be available for public servants who are chargesheeted for rape (I have to verify this once I actually see the final Bill - later today); stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks, disrobing are all recognised as sexual crimes.

There are other battles, of course, that we must continue to fight for full implementation of the Justice Verma recommendations. But the Bill in its present shape is a huge achievement for the movement - let us defend the provisions we have won while continuing to demand the ones that are left out!

Kavita Krishnan, on behalf of the Bekhauf Azaadi campaign.

हिन्दी अनुवाद--

मंत्रीमंडल का बलात्कार विरोधी बिल – भ्रामक जानकारियों का विश्लेषण - 

मीडिया के ज़्यादातर हिस्सों ने जानबूझ कर नए बलात्कार विरोधी बिल के खिलाफ गलत और भ्रामक प्रचार का अभियान चलाया हुआ है, और खुलेआम महिला विरोधी संगठन इस अभियान के श्रोत बने हुए हैं। टी वी पर चल रही गरमागरम इन बहसों पर निर्देश के बतौर एक विश्लेषण- 

(1) सहमति की उम्र 16 साल 

यह सहमति की उम्र अचानक 18 से 16 नहीं की गई है। भारत में 1983 से ही सहमति की उम्र 16 वर्ष रही है। इसे 18 वर्ष तक बढ़ाने का मामला अभी बाल यौन अपराध से बचाव के कानून (POSCO) के तहत अभी 4 महीने पहले उठाया गया और एक महीने पहले अधिनियम आया। बेखौफ आजादी के अभियान के तहत 18 साल तक उम्र बढ़ाने पर किए गए विरोध को याद करें– और अब सरकार इस पर चेती और इसे 16 वर्ष बरकरार रखा है। 
16 वर्ष सहमति की उम्र का कत्तई आशय किशोर उम्र के सेक्स संबंध को ‘लाइसेन्स’ या उसे बढ़ावा देना नहीं है।
बहस यह नहीं है कि ‘किशोर उम्र में सेक्स ठीक है या नहीं ‘ बल्कि मुद्दा यह है कि ‘ किशोरों के बीच आपसी सहमति से बना सेक्स संबंध को बलात्कार कहेंगे या नहीं’। क्योंकि जो मसौदा तैयार हुआ है वह दांडिक कानून है, कोई नैतिक या सामाजिक नियमावली नहीं। यदि सहमति की उम्र 18 तक बढ़ाई जाती है तो, इसका मतलब यह हुआ कि 16-18 के बीच के लड़के बलात्कारी/ यौन उत्पीड़क के बतौर सजा के हकदार होंगे फिर चाहे भले ही उसी की उम्र की उसकी लड़की दोस्त साफ-साफ कहे कि उसने उसकी सहमति से उसे छूआ! 

इस तर्क का क्या कि अगर विवाह की उम्र 18 है तो ,सेक्स के लिए सहमति की उम्र में अंतर क्यों होना चाहिए?

पहली बात तो ,बाल विवाह निरोधक कानून के तहत अगर कोई नाबालिग लड़का किसी नाबालिग लड़की के साथ विवाह करता है तो वह दंडनीय नहीं है। तो फिर यदि कोई नाबालिग किशोर अपनी ही उम्र की किसी नाबालिग किशोर लड़की की सहमति से उसका का हाथ पकड़ता है, गले लगता है, चूमता है– या फिर सेक्स संबंध में जाता है तो वह यौन अपराधी/ बलात्कारी की तरह दंडनीय क्यों होगा? बाल विवाह निरोधक कानून अभिभावकों को नाबालिग बच्चों की तरफ से उनके जीवन संबंधी फैसले लेने से रोकता है। यह उन बच्चों को यह भी अधिकार देता है कि वयस्क होने पर वे अपनी शादी आगे चलना चाहते हैं या नहीं इसका फैसला कर सकते हैं।

यह एकदम सही बात है कि 16-18 वर्ष की उम्र में सेहत के लिहाज से गर्भवाती होना कत्तई ठीक नहीं है। पर यह बात भी उतनी ही सच है कि उस उम्र में लड़के-लड़कियों के बीच आकर्षण होना बिलकुल स्वाभाविक है। जरूरत यह है कि नवजवानों को इतनी सलाहियत सिखा दी जाय कि वे अपने शरीर को समझ सकें, उसका सम्मान करें, उस आकर्षण से नफरत न करें और साथ ही उस आकर्षण की जिम्मेदारी निभा भी सकें। जो ‘अनावश्यक’ है वह यह कि उस आकर्षण को आपराधिक न बना दिया जाय और महज इसलिए कि उन्होने अपनी उम्र की एक लड़की के साथ उसकी सहमति से यौन सम्बन्ध बनाया इसलिए मासूम छोटे लड़कों को बलात्कारी करार दे दिया जाय। इस तरह से जिन लड़कों को लड़की की सहमति से सम्बन्धों में जाने पर गलत तरीके से बलात्कारी करार दिया जाएगा वे निश्चित तौर पर आगे चलकर महिलाओं से डरने/ नफरत करने वाले इंसान के तौर पर बड़े होंगे और यौनिकता एवं महिलाओं के बारे में विकृत समझ विकसित होगी और इस तरह उनके महिलाओं के प्रति हिंसक होने की संभावना ज्यादा होगी।

इससे भी अधिक हम ऐसी दुनिया में रह रहे हैं जहां नैतिक डंडाबाजी नए लोगों के जीवन और चुनावों के लिए गंभीर खतरा है। POSCO के अंतर्गत तीसरा पक्ष (अभिभावक, नैतिकता के ठेकेदार, खाप आदि कोई भी) किशोर लड़के के खिलाफ बलात्कार के शिकायत दर्ज करा सकता है और अदालत में जज को लड़की की इस अपील को, कि यह सब सहमती से हुआ था, नजरंदाज करते हुए लड़के को दोषी ठहराना होगा। यही कारण है कि बहुत से न्यायाधीशों ने अनुरोध किया कि सहमति की उम्र 16 ही बरकरार रखा जाय उसे 18 तक न बढ़ाया जाय ताकि उन स्थितियों में जब स्वाभाविक रूप से पूरी सहमति से यौन संबंध बने हों तो किशोर बच्चों को मजबूरी में बलात्कार का दोषी न ठहराना पड़े: जजों की राय के कुछ उदाहरण यहाँ देखें: :

जरा हाल के टाटा स्काई के विज्ञापन पर विचार करें:, जहां दिखाया गया है कि एक भाई सोच रहा है वो अपनी बहन को एक लड़के के साथ खाने पर ‘जाने की इजाजत’ दे या न दे। अगर सहमति की उम्र 18 कर दी गई तो युवाओं के बीच किसी भी किस्म का यौन संबंध स्वतः ही ‘बलात्कार’ हो जाएगा, ऐसे भाई ,जो अपनी बहनों की आजादी को अपने कब्जे में रखना चाहते हैं, इसे किसी भी लड़के/ क्लास में पढ़ने वाले लड़के दोस्त /दोस्त, जो भी उसकी बहन से दोस्ती रखेगा, इसका इस्तेमाल उन्हें दोषी ठहराने के लिए करेंगे! इसी तरह यह उन पूर्वाग्रही पुलिसवालों के काम आएगा जो साथ में पार्क में बैठने पर भी लड़के-लड़कियों को बिना किसी कारण अपमानित करते घूमते हैं।

(2) दृश्य रतिक उत्पीड़न 

उत्पीड़न का यह प्रकार ‘देखना’ या ‘घूरना’ नहीं है !! किसी लड़की की फोटो फेसबुक पर चढ़ाना भी इस उत्पीड़न के अंतर्गत नहीं आएगा। यदि कोई आदमी किसी लड़की का सेक्स एमएमएस बनाता है या अपनी प्रेमिका की नग्न तस्वीर बांटता है तो यह इस उत्पीड़न की श्रेणी में आएगा क्योंकि इससे उसकी एकांतता भंग होती है। अगर कोई महिला किसी कपड़े की दुकान के कपड़े बदलने के कमरे में है और उसमें कोई छिपा छेद या कैमरा लगा है जिससे कुछ पुरुष उसे देख पा रहे हैं तो यह दृश्य रतिक उत्पीड़न की श्रेणी में आएगा। दिल्ली गिरोह बलात्कार की घटना का मुख्य आरोपी राम सिंह भी इस श्रेणी में भी आता है, रायटर्स (समाचार एजेंसी) को राम सिंह की एक पड़ोसी ने बताया था कि “कभी-कभी जब हम कपड़े बदल रहे होते या नहा रहे होते, तो वह हमारे घर में झाँकता था । जब हम लोग चिल्लाते तो वह उल्टे बुरी तरह चिल्लाते हुए कहता कि “उसकी मर्जी वह जहां चाहे खड़ा होए।“ असल में दृश्य रतिक उत्पीड़न किसी को छिपकर देखना है जिससे उसकी एकांतता भंग होती हो। इस कानून से पुरुषों की एकांतता भी सुरक्षित हो सकेगी। 

(3) पीछा करना 

असल में इससे(पीछा करने) क्या आशय है? डर फिल्म को याद करें –‘तू हाँ कर या न कर तू है मेरे किरन’, ये है पीछा करने का उदाहरण। किसी का बार-बार पीछा करना, धमकी भरे मेल भेजना/ एसिड से हमले या बलात्कार/ ह्त्या की लिखित धमकी - भी इस श्रेणी में है और ये वे भय हैं जिन्हें अनगिनत महिलाएं रोज-रोज झेलती हैं जिसका अब भी कोई हल नहीं है। 

हमने सड़कों पर महज बलात्कारियों को सजा दिलाने के लिए प्रदर्शन नहीं किया बल्कि वह इसलिए भी था ताकि बलात्कार, हत्या और एसिड हमले जैसी घटनाओं को रोका जा सके। जरा प्रियदर्शिनी मट्टू को याद करें। उसने बार –बार संतोष सिंह के पीछा करने की रिपोर्ट लिखाई थी। पर उस समय कोई ऐसा कानून नही था जिससे कि उसे पीछा करने के आरोप में गिरफ्तार किया जा सके- नतीजतन वह बलात्कार और हत्या करने तक बढ़ा। 

एसिड हमलों के साथ-साथ बलात्कार और हत्यायें (जैसे कि धौला कुआं पर राधिका तंवर की ह्त्या) अकसरहा पीछा करने से ही शुरू होती हैं।

लगातार पीछा करने का अपराध में जमानत न होने का प्रावधान क्यों होना चाहिए? क्योंकि अगर एक पीछा करने वाला आदमी एसिड फेंकना चाहता है या किसी की गोली मार कर हत्या करना चाहता है तो ऐसे में अगर महिला शिकायत दर्ज कराती है तो वह आदमी दुगुनी तेजी से आगे बढ़ेगा। यह बेहद जरूरी है कि वो जो धमकियाँ दे रहा है उसे अंजाम देने से पहले उसे गिरफ्तार कर लिया जाय। पीछा करने के अपराध को ह्त्या या बलात्कार जैसे अपराधों की तुलना में ज्यादा आसानी से साबित किया जा सकता है। इसमें आमतौर पर गवाह और सबूत के बतौर दस्तावेज़ होते हैं जैसे (धमकी भरे पत्र, फोन काल्स की रिकॉर्डिंग आदि।) सिर्फ इन्हीं सबूतों के आधार पर अपराध साबित हो सकता है और किसी को सजा दी जा सकती है। 

पीछा करने का अपराध भी जेंडर से परे होता है और इससे पुरुषों को भी इस हमले से राहत मिलेगी।

(4) झूठी शिकायतें 

अगर कोई महिला किसी पुरुष के खिलाफ झूठी शिकायत दर्ज करती है तो उस पुरुष के पास कानूनी बचाव क्या होगा?

कानूनी हल पहले से ही IPC- की धारा 182 और 211 में मौजूद है। इस तरह की झूठी शिकायतों को दंडित करने के लिए पहले से ही कानूनी प्रावधान मौजूद हैं क्योंकि एक भी ऐसा कानून नहीं है जिसका दुरुपयोग न होता हो। सवाल यह है कि – बलात्कार और यौन उत्पीड़न के खिलाफ क़ानूनों के मामले में झूठी शिकायतों के खिलाफ अलग से प्रावधान शामिल क्यों करना? इस तरह की दफा केवल महिला को शिकायत दर्ज कराने से रोकेगी। 

हमें यह याद रखना चाहिए कि सिर्फ हमारे आंदोलन की वजह से यह बिल हकीकत में आया है। यह कोई पुरुष विरोधी बिल नहीं है, यह सब लोगों जिसमें पुरुष भी शामिल हैं को यौन हिंसा से बचाने में मददगार होगा। यही कारण है कि हमने यही मांग की है कि इस बिल के अंतर्गत भुक्तभोगी को जेंडर के परे रखा जाय (बिल में पीछा करने के अपराध में एक खास जेंडर को ही उत्पीड़ित मानता है मानो केवल महिला ही पीड़ित हो सकती है, और हम सरकार और संसद से इसे ठीक करने की मांग कर रहे हैं)।

हमारे आंदोलन की ही बदौलत अध्यादेश की सर्वाधिक नुकसानदेह चीज को सरकार ने बदल दिया।

बलात्कार कानून में अभियुक्त के ‘जेंडर विशेष’ के होने की अवधारणा को बरकरार रखा गया (क्योंकि महिलाएं पुरुषों का बलात्कार नहीं करती हैं); सहमति की उम्र 16 ही बरकरार रखी गई है; बिल ने यह साफ किया है कि उन जनता के प्रतिनिधियों (सरकारी अफसर,राजनीतिक पार्टियों के नेतागण ,पुलिस, सेना को छोड़कर ) को जिनके खिलाफ बलात्कार के मामले में चार्जशीट दायर हुई है उन्हें पहले से सुरक्षा की मंजूरी नहीं मिलेगी पीछा करना, दृश्य रतिक उत्पीड़न , एसिड फेंकना, नंगा करना जैसे कृत्य अब यौन अपराध के बतौर चिन्हित हैं। 

निश्चित तौर पर दूसरी लड़ाइयाँ अभी बाकी हैं, जस्टिस वर्मा के प्रस्तावों को पूरी तरह से लागू कराने के लिए हमें अभी संघर्ष अभी जारी रखना होगा। पर यह बिल अपने वर्तमान स्वरूप में आंदोलन के लिए बड़ी कामयाबी है- आइये जिन मांगो को छोड़ दिया गया उस पर लड़ाई चलाते हुए जिन प्रावधानों को हमने जीता है उसकी जवाबदेही सुनिश्चित करें। 

कविता कृष्णन, 
बेखौफ आजादी अभियान

Thursday, March 14, 2013

photo diary

वर्मा कमेटी सरकार के गले की हड्डी बन गई है।लोग सड़क पर हैं। बिल को तकनीकी पेंच में फँसाने की कोशिशें, डर है कि कहीं देश भर की महिलाएं बार -बार सड़कों पर आना आदत न बना लें ।

   देश भर में 8 मार्च,अंतर्राष्ट्रीय महिला दिवस को एपवा के प्रदर्शन की कुछ तस्वीरें -




Tuesday, March 12, 2013

अंतर्राष्ट्रीय महिला दिवस की रिपोर्ट

रांची में मनाया गया अंतरराष्ट्रीय महिला दिवस 

समानता और बेख़ौफ़ आज़ादी के नारों के साथ अंतर्राष्ट्रीय महिला दिवस की 103वीं वर्षगांठ पर दुनिया की तमाम संघर्षषील और आंदोलनकारी महिलाओं की शहादत को याद करते हुए रांची में ऐपवा ने रैली निकाली और सभा का आयोजन किया। रैली पार्टी कार्यालय से होते हुए एलबर्ट एक्का चैक तक पहुंची जहां वह सभा में तब्दील हो गई। ‘हमें चाहिए बेखौफ आजादी‘ ‘वर्मा आयोग की सिफारिशो को ईमानदारी से लागू करो' ‘मजदूर और घरेलू कामगारिनों की सम्मान और उचित पारिश्रमिक की गारंटी करो' ‘झारखंड में महिला नीति अविलंब बनाओ‘ ‘महिलाओं की सुरक्षा की गारंटी करनी होगी‘ ‘ बलात्कार और तेजाब हमले के खिलाफ कड़ा कानून बनाओ‘ आदि नारों और मांगो के साथ जहां रैली निकाली गई वहीं नारीवादी गीत ‘दुनिया के नक्शे पर चमका है नया सितारा, आधी जमीं हमारी आधा आसमां हमारा‘ के साथ ही सभा की शुरूआत की गई। ऐपवा राज्य सचिव सुनीता, राज्याध्यक्ष गुनी उरांव, रांची जिला सह अध्यक्ष शांति सेन, जसम झारखंड संयोजक अनिल अंशुमन ने सभा को संबोधित किया। सभा का संचालन ऐपवा रांची जिला सचिव सरोजिनी बिष्ट ने किया। जसम प्रेरणा टीम की संयोजक और ऐपवा नेत्री सोनी तिरिया ने नारीवादी गीतों के जरिए सभा को और जीवंत बना दिया जिसमें उनका साथ अनिल अंशुमन ने भी दिया। 

सभा को संबोधित करते हुए ऐपवा राज्य सचिव सुनीता ने कहा कि केंद्र में बैठी यूपीए सरकार भले ही यह प्रदर्शित करे कि वे महिलाओं की सुरक्षा को लेकर गंभीर है लेकिन सरकार कितनी गंभीर है इससे ही पता चल जाता है कि जस्टिस वर्मा कमेटी की महत्वपूर्ण सिफारिशों को किस तरह उसने नजरअंदाज कर हम महिलाओं और आंदोलनकारियों के साथ धोखा किया है। उन्होनें कहा कि आज भले ही राज्य में सरकार नाम की चीज़ न हो लेकिन आज 8 मार्च के दिन वे राजनैतिक दल भी जोर-शोर से महिला दिवस मना रहे हैं और महिलाओं की हक की बात कर रहें जो अब तक सरकार के घटक दल थे और जब सत्ता उनके हाथ में थी तो महिलाओं के लिए कुछ नहीं कर पाए। ऐपवा रज्याध्यक्ष गुनी उरांव ने झारखंड के संदर्भ में महिलाओं के संघर्ष और शहादत को याद कर कहा कि हमारा राज्य महिलाओं के बलिदान पर भी बना है लेकिन आज उन्ही बलिदानियों की संतानें रोटी रोजगार के लिए महानगरों में पलायन कर रही है। उन्होनें कहा कि हमारी बेटियां खुलेआम बिकती रही और हमारी 12 सालों की राज्य सरकारें उनकों रोटी रोजगार और सुरक्षा देने में नाकाम रहीं। 

अपनी बात रखते हुए ऐपवा रांची जिला सहाध्यक्ष शांति सेन ने कहा कि जब तक महिलाएं संगठित होकर अपने अधिकारों की लड़ाई नहीं लड़ेंगी तब तक उनको कदम कदम पर पीछे धकेलने की कोशिश की जाती रहेगी। जसम संयोजक अनिल अंशुमन ने महिलाओं से आह्वान किया कि वे आंदोलन और शहादत के इस दिन को यानी 8 मार्च को अपना संकल्प का दिन घोषित कर दें और राज्य दमन के खि़लाफ एवम् बराबरी और बेख़ौफ़ आज़ादी के लिए अपने संघर्ष को तेज करें। उन्होने कहा कि जब तक हमारी देश की महिलाएं अपने को सुरक्षित महसूस नहीं करेंगी तब तक देश की तरक्की के सारे दावे झूठे साबित होंगे। सभा के अंत में रांची जिला सचिव सरोजिनी बिष्ट ने कहा कि एक ऐसे मुल्क़ द्वारा हमारी जुझारू बेटी निर्भया को दिया गया बहादुरी पुरस्कार ‘इंटरनेशनल वूमेन आफ करेज‘ की हम इसलिए आलोचना करते हैं क्योंकि यह वही देश है अमेरिका जिसने दुनिया में सबसे ज्यादा मानवाधिकारों का हनन किया है, अपनी साम्राज्यवादी नीतियों की बदौलत दुनिया के देशों में कत्लेआम किया है जिसमें सैकड़ों बेगुनाहों का खून बहा है और मौत के घाट उतरने वालों में महिलाएं भी शामिल हैं।कार्यक्रम में सिनगी खलखो, लालो देवी, संगीता, मनीषा मुंडा, सुनीता देवी, सुगन देवी, एजरेन मिंज, नीलम टोप्पो, सीता कुमारी, निवेदिता सेन आदि ने भाग लिया।

जिला सचिव, ऐपवा, रांची सरोजिनी बिष्ट द्वारा जारी

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Inadequate Budgetary Provisions for Women

Press Release

Women’s Safety and Welfare Need Adequate Budgetary Allocations,
Not Hollow and Cynical Gestures
The Govt Takes Nirbhaya’s Name, Why Hasn’t It Provided Budgetary Backing for the Rehabilitation and Medical Care of All Rape and Acid Attack Survivors? 

New Delhi, February 28, 2013

The Finance Minister’s Budget speech made several references to women. But since these have not been backed by sufficient allocations in the required areas, these references appear to be mere token and hollow gestures. 

The ‘Nirbhaya fund’ is the most glaring instance of this. In the case of Nirbhaya (the Delhi gang-rape braveheart), the Government had responded to the public outcry by taking over all the medical costs of Nirbhaya. The Congress party leaders had even offered a flat to her family members. The Budget was the Government’s chance to show that these were not mere ‘charity’ gestures in one single case. In fact, the Government ought to show that it owns responsibility for the safety of all women, by providing every single survivor of rape or acid attacks with state-funded rehabilitation and medical care. The 1000 crore Nirbhaya fund, a mere corpus fund rather than a Budgetary allocation, is as of now far from adequate for covering the rehabilitation and medical costs of survivors of gender violence. In Haryana, dalit rape survivors have been forced to relocate away from their village, and the Government has ignored their demands for rehabilitation costs. Acid attack survivors and grievously injured rape survivors (as in Nirbhaya’s case) often have to travel for specialized medical care such as burns units, plastic surgery, and certain operations. Such travel costs ought to be covered by the Government also. For the Government to cynically use Nirbhaya’s name for a fund that fails to offer a guarantee of support for all survivors of gender violence, is shameful. The Rs 200 crore that has been allocated to the WCD Ministry is again, inadequate as well as vague as to its purpose. 

Legislations against violence faced by women (such as the Domestic Violence Act and laws against sexual violence) need to be backed by budgetary allocations. The Budget should also have announced specific allocations for safe houses and shelters for women who face domestic violence, incest, and for homeless women. There are any number of instances where girls and women facing incest are forced to continue to stay in the same house as their molester, for want of a safe shelter. Homeless women remain ever-vulnerable to violence on the streets. And the few existing shelters are so harsh in their conditions that women commonly refer to many of them as ‘women’s jails.’ 

One can compare these amounts (1000 crore, 200 crore) with the Budget’s statement of revenues foregone. The Budget promises to forego revenues to the tune of 68007.6 crore on corporate taxpayers (defined by the Government as prioritised tax payers) for the year 2012-13; in 2011-12 this amount was 61765.3 crore. If the Government can write off taxes to the tune of between 60-70000 crore every year for super-rich corporations as ‘incentives’, why is it that women’s safety is not seen as a similar priority by the Government? 

The Finance Minister’s announcement of a public sector women’s bank is rather mystifying. Why can’t existing public sector banks offer affordable institutional loans to women? By creating a women’s bank (whose purpose is as yet unclear), are existing banks being absolved of their responsibilities to women? Like the SHGs (which leave women debtors at the mercy of the micro-finance institutions), the women-only banks might end up being projected as the highly inadequate and misplaced ‘substitute’ for institutional bank-support for women. 

The Government should, in addition, have announced allocations to ensure more judges and courts (to ensure speedier trials); forensic investigations facilities all over the country, and primary health care centres in every village, specially equipped to deal with diagnostics and care for women. 

Kavita Krishnan, 
Secretary, AIPWA 
On behalf of the ongoing Bekhauf Azadi campaign against sexual violence

Sunday, February 24, 2013

People's Watch Over Parliament

Feb 21, 2012 
Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
NO to Government’s Eyewash Ordinance!

Parliament Must Enact a Law Against Rape and Sexual Violence Based on Justice Verma Recommendations! Budgetary Allocations for Rape Crisis Centres, Rehabilitation and Compensation for Survivors of Rape and Acid Attacks!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Walk - A Solo Performance by Maya Krishna Rao in Response to Delhi Gangrape

Maya Krishna Rao, a well-known actor, dancer, director, and teacher, performing Walk in response to Delhi Gangrape during People's Watch Over Parliament in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on Feb 21, 2012

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Are Our Lawmakers Ready to Listen to the Voice of the Movement Against Sexual Violence?

Demands Raised in the People’s Watch Over Parliament Today, February 21, 1st Day of the Budget Session, Jantar Mantar, New Delhi 

NO to Government’s Eyewash Ordinance! 

Parliament Must Enact a Law Against Rape and Sexual Violence 

Based on Justice Verma Recommendations! 

Budgetary allocations for rape crisis centres, rehabilitation and compensation for survivors of rape and acid attacks 

We want to tell the MPs – our eyes are on you. We are watching to see if you do justice to women. We are watching to see if you implement the Justice Verma recommendations. 

1) We want rape-accused MPs, starting with Deputy Speaker of Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien to resign from Parliament. We have had enough of MPs remarks branding women as ‘dented and painted’ and branding rape survivors as ‘child prostitutes’ or as ‘zinda laash.’ We say to them: please stop worrying about women’s morality, and ‘honour’ – and enact an anti-rape law that respects women’s autonomy and rights; that gets rid of protective shields for powerful accused; that ensures accountability of the police. 

2) We are shocked that the ordinance has introduced ‘gender neutrality for perpetrator’ in the law for rape and sexual assault, making it possible for men to accuse women of rape. We do not want this joke to be played on women when they are demanding justice! We say NO to gender-neutrality of the accused in the rape/sexual assault law. 

3) We are dismayed by the ordinance’s move to automatically brand consensual sexual contact between young people between the ages of 16-18 as ‘sexual assault’. We, the young people of the country, do not want a law that can brand a teenage boy as a sexual offender for holding hands with a girl of his own age. We do not want a law that strengthens the hands of the khap panchayats and the moral-policing brigades that terrorise young people who befriend each other. Our reason is outraged by the fact that the ordinance continues to refer to violence against women as outraging or insulting ‘modesty’. It is appalling that the law of the land expects women to prove their ‘modesty’ in order to merit justice in cases of sexual violence! We demand deletion of such patriarchal vocabulary from the law. 

4) In memory of the tremendous and tragic injustice done to Ruchika Girotra, to Thangjam Manorama, to Geetika Sharma and Rupam Pathak, we want an end to protective shields for powerful people accused of rape. There should be no need to seek government permission to prosecute public servants (MPs, MLAs, police officers) and army officers who are accused of rape or sexual assault. Let the Court, not Governments, decide if a complaint of rape has merit or is false/motivated. Repeal the AFSPA to ensure that army officers accused of rape cannot hide behind AFSPA and claim immunity, as Manorama’s rapists and killers have done since 2004. 

5) We demand the principle of command responsibility in cases of custodial rape and sexual assault by police or army. Superior officers who knowingly allow their junior officers to rape, or who, having known of such a rape, fail to initiate action against the errant officers, must be held accountable and punishable. Only then can we hope to do justice to terrible crimes like the custodial sexual torture of Soni Sori or the mass rape at Kunan Poshpora. We demand that police personnel who fail to file FIRs or follow the law in matters of investigation, be jailed for 5 years, and such crimes should be made cognizable and non-bailable. 

6) We demand that rapes occurring during communal and caste massacres be recognised as 'aggravated sexual assault', with provision severe punishment. Sexual violence against dalit women needs, likewise, to be recognised as aggravated sexual assault. 

7) We demand that the rape law recognise marital rape, and remove the shocking provision of lenient punishment for a husband who rapes a legally separated wife. Strangely, the ordinance has taken pains to protect husbands from being accused of rape by wives – but has not bothered to similarly protect wives from being accused of rape by husbands! 

8) We demand ban the demeaning, sexist, and unscientific ‘two-finger medical test’ for rape survivors. 

9) We demand budgetary allocations for rape crisis centres, safe houses for women, more judges and courts, forensic examination facilities, rehabilitation and compensation for survivors of rape and acid attacks. And if the Government pleads ‘fund crunch’, we would like to suggest that this time, if they avoid handing out lakhs of crores of rupees as tax waivers to the super-rich and big corporations, and avoid buying needlessly expensive defence equipment to benefit the corrupt, there should be plenty of funds left over to spend to make women safer! 

10) We support the 2-day all-India workers’ strike, and join women workers in demanding a law against sexual harassment at the workplace. 

Freedom Without Fear 
Campaign Against Sexual Violence and Gender Discrimination 
9560756628, 9868383692, 9868033425, 9953736392, 9013219020 
facebook group: Freedom without fear- Bekhauf Azadi 

Demand Justice in the Suryanelli Rape Case

Anti-rape protesters have been outraged by the fact that the new rape law will be discussed in Parliament, with a rape-accused presiding over the discussions! The Deputy Speaker of the Rajya Sabha, PJ Kurien, is accused in the Suryanelli rape case: a case of gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Kerala, 17 years ago.

The 16-year-old girl in Kerala’s remote Idukki district, was defrauded by a man whom she had befriended, was drugged, beaten and taken to places across the Tamil Nadu and Kerala countryside, where she was raped by around 40 men. Eventually she was put on a bus back home, after which she filed a complaint of rape. 40 persons were named as accused in the main petition, by the State Government. The rape survivor later saw Kurien’s photograph in a newspaper and recognized him to be one of the rapists, and filed a private petition against him to the court, when the police refused to register her complaint against him.

Kurien had tried to appeal against his being named as an accused, but his appeal was rejected thrice: by the lower court, by the High Court and by an Additional Sessions Court. A Special Court had convicted 35 of the 40 accused in the original case. A division bench of the Kerala High Court, in 2005, however, overturned the convictions, in a shockingly misogynist verdict. Only one man was found guilty of sex trade (procuring and selling a minor for purposes of prostitution). Only after that, based on the acquittal of the other accused in the main petition, was the case against Kurien rejected by the Kerala HC and later the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile the rape survivor also faced political victimisation, being falsely accused of financial irregularities and losing her job. 

However, the Supreme Court recently responded to the appeal against the 2005 verdict, expressing dismay at the verdict and setting aside the Kerala HC’s acquittal of 2005. The case has been sent back to the HC for a fresh look.

Several crucial witnesses, including the man convicted in the case, have now stated that Kurien was in fact guilty and that the prosecution had made them suppress facts.

The Kerala HC verdict of 2005, shockingly, seems based more on the judges’ view of the girl’s morals rather than on the facts of the case. Based on its moralizing, it concludes that the girl was a prostitute who agreed to sex with 40 men by consent. For instance, the verdict comments that the girl’s “inclination to have such friendly relationship with a stranger like Kochumon must also be taken note of while appreciating her evidence.” It notes that “She is thus shown to be a girl of deviant character. She was not a normal innocent girl of that age.” One of the judges notes that “It is easy to assume that no minor if prudent and intelligent, and if her faculties of reasoning and sense of righteous behaviour are properly developed and intact, would choose in the Indian context to consent to extra marital and pre marital sexual intercourse…. In the fiercely consumerist society that we live in, a young girl child is also exposed to so many temptations that it is difficult for the child which has not been groomed in proper atmosphere with a proper value system inculcated in it, to resist such temptations. Such children can be termed deviants but cannot be merely condemned and left to their fate.” And therefore the judge advices raising of the age of consent to 18 years rather than 16! The verdict shares all sorts of patriarchal ideas about how a ‘righteous’ and ‘good’ girl would behave, and with all the patriarchal moral outrage and disgust, brands as ‘deviant’ a young girl who chooses to fall in love with a man. Once assumed to be a ‘deviant’, her own testimony about being raped by other men is viewed by the judges with suspicion, based on their assessment about her character and morals. And at the end, while doing a grievous injustice to the complaint of rape and branding her a liar, they ask that the freedom of all young girls of 16-18 years, to have friendships of their own choice, be restricted by raising the age of consent! One of the Judges who delivered that verdict has recently said on TV that the girl was a ‘deviant’ and a ‘child prostitute.’

The Congress party has shamefully yet to remove Kurien from his post as Deputy Speaker of the RS. Moreover, asked by a woman journalist about the Kurien case, UPA Overseas Minister Vayalar Ravi made a sexist remark, asking her whether she too had had a past relationship with Kurien! The Congress is yet to act against either Kurien or Ravi.

Speaking to a national daily, the rape survivor who is fighting for justice said, “I am no longer the 16-year-old school girl who fell for her first love, and lost her life. Yet, at 33, I am battling the same nightmares; my world is a grey longwinding road that stretches from my house to church and office.

People have a tendency to smirk when I recount the 40 days when I was turned into a female body that could be used anyway they liked — sold like caged cattle, pushed into dark rooms across the state, raped day and night, kicked and punched. ...I can remember all those faces clearly. Raju comes first. The man I loved, and trusted. That he would turn me into the victim of Kerala's first sex racket was the twist in my love story. The man whose face I searched for during my every day trip to school was one among the many I had to point to in an identification parade, and come face-to-face in the court corridors. In those days, I really wanted to kill him, my first love.

I feel relieved that the Delhi girl died, or she would have faced the same pointed, porn-tinted questions from everywhere, forced to explain countless whys, and would have had to live a life fearing her own shadow and without a friend.

I belong to the Latin Church which is the largest individual church in the Catholic Church, but in all these 17 years, not even a single prayer was said for me in any church anywhere. No rosaries marked the Hail Marys, and no angels came to my doorstep to offer kind words.

But my belief has not wavered. It gives me the strength to watch 24/7 news channels where the protectors of law call me a child prostitute, and eminent personalities discuss why my case won't stand. Even when I am framed in a financial fraud case in my office, and when my parents go down with major health problems, I convince myself that this too would pass. One day.”

From ML Update

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

People's Watch Over Parliament

Kavita Krishnan, National Secretary of AIPWA, Campaigning for People's March Over Parliament on February 21 from Jantar Mantar Demanding Enactment of a Law on Sexual Violence Based on Justice Verma Committee Recommendations as the Parliament Gears to Discuss Ordinance....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Protest Against French President Demanding Justice in Suja Jones' Case and to Quit Negotiating Nuke plant in Jaitapur!

Photo Diary

AIPWA and AISA held a protest demonstration in Jantar Mantar on February 14 in support of Suja Jones Mazurier's struggle for justice for her baby daughter, who was raped by her own father French Diplomat Pascal Mazurier. The protestors raised slogans against the French Government for protecting Pascal Mazurier. They also demanded Hollande to quit negotiating the French nuke plant at Jaitapur!

Will Be Updated Further.....

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why inclusion of marital rape in the ordinance is necessary

By Kavita Krishnan

The ordinance, in its present form, justifies and legalises marital rape. Even if a wife separates legally from her husband, the husband will get a lenient (two year) punishment if he rapes her! Justice Verma's report had said that any sexual contact that is against a woman's consent is sexual violence regardless of the relationship of the accused to the woman - even if he is a boyfriend or husband. A wife is not the property of her husband, she still has the right to say 'no' to sexual contact with him. In case the accused is in a relationship (or had a past relationship) with the complainant, it cannot be assumed/presumed that the latter has 'consented' to sexual contact.

If marital rape is recognised legally, will it result in false cases? Well, we can look at the experience of domestic violence. We have all seen how, even when wives face severe battering, sometimes of a life-threatening kind, they are reluctant (for social and economic reasons) to actually file a criminal complaint against husbands, even when police arrive at the door. How, then, can we assume that wives are suddenly going to go berserk and file false cases randomly? Moreover, there are false cases in all sorts of laws theft, cheating, terrorism, even murder. Yet how come we don't talk about getting rid of these laws? There are innumerable cases of police themselves filing false complaints of terrorism against innocent people, yet in our society, we talk as though it is only women who are prone to filing 'false complaints'. Whereas the overwhelming evidence is that the vast majority of women are in fact dependent on their husbands and helpless even in marriages where they face tremendous violence, many even being burnt alive.

To those talking about 'misuse' of the laws for women, we wonder why they are not talking about the new ordinance which has huge provisions for misuse against women and young boys? The ordinance makes the perpetrator of rape 'gender-neural': i.e both men and women can be accused of rape. This will mean that if a woman files a rape complaint against a man, he will be able to file a counter-complaint of rape against her.

Strangely, the ordinance does not allow wives to accuse husbands of sexual assault but because of the 'gender-neutral' provision, and because the ordinance does not rule out complaints of sexual assault against wives, husbands can file cases of sexual assault against their wives! The ordinance brands all consensual sexual contact between young people of the ages between 16 and 18 as 'sexual violence': therefore young boys (and girls too) whose only crime is that they were friends with young people of the other sex, will face false charges of 'sexual violence' by parents, khap panchayats and moral policing brigades.

We should also remember that we need to change the law in order to recognise and undo the long history of societal sanction for marital rape. The Brhadarankya Upanishad says about how a husband should deal with his wife if she refuses to consent to sex: "...surely a woman who has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period is the most auspicious of women. When she has changed her clothes at the end of her menstrual period, therefore one should approach that splendid woman and invite her to have sex. Should she refuse to consent, he should bribe her, if she still still refuses, he should beat her with a stick or with his fists and overpower her, saying 'I take away the splendour from you with my virility and splendour'."

(Brhdaranyaka Upanishad, Chapter 6.4.6)

If Justice Verma's recommendations were implemented, it would make marriages more democratic, based on love and equality rather than on the husband's power over the wife.

Courtesy : The India Blog, IBN Live

Friday, February 8, 2013

Comparison of the JVC Recommendations With the UPA Govt’s Ordinance

AISA and AIPWA organized a protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar on Feb 4, and also at Shastri Bhawan where Finance Minister Chidambaram and Congress Spokesperson Manish Tewari were holding a press conference on the issue, under the banner of ‘Bekhauf Azadi’ along with representatives of AIDWA. The protest unequivocally condemned the government ordinance amending laws related to sexual violence 

Comparison of the JVC Recommendations With the UPA Govt’s Ordinance

the JVC Recommendations
UPA Govt’s Ordinance
For the first time in India, spelt out a constitutional Bill of Rights for women, and the means to ensure those fundamental rights to equality, freedom, and autonomy

Ignores the Bill of Rights 
Recognised that sexual violence is not an act of sex or lust: it is an act of patriarchal power. Therefore, to reduce sexual violence, we must safeguard women’s freedom and rights; and to ensure that perpetrators are punished, we must undo the impunity and protection for such offences that is built into the laws and into our system   
Maintains the inbuilt ways in which laws protect powerful perpetrators
Recognised women’s rights to autonomy: including her sexual autonomy and her right to choose her partners, friends, and spouses. Recommended changing the archaic and anti-women vocabulary of laws. Understood sexual violence as a violation of a woman’s bodily integrity and her dignity, rather than as ‘outraging modesty’, ‘robbing honour’ or bringing ‘shame’.
Has many clauses that go AGAINST women’s autonomy and freedom, and retains the anti-women wording of ‘outraging modesty’ instead of molestation or sexual violence
Recognised women’s rights to autonomy: including her sexual autonomy and her right to choose her partners, friends, and spouses. Recommended changing the archaic and anti-women vocabulary of laws. Understood sexual violence as a violation of a woman’s bodily integrity and her dignity, rather than as ‘outraging modesty’, ‘robbing honour’ or bringing ‘shame’.
Accepted the changed definition of ‘consent’ as recommended by JVC, BUT retained many of the substantial provisions that fail to recognise and respect women’s ‘consent’ – in case of married women, 16-18 year-old girls, and women who complain against the powerful people such as judges, magistrates, police officers, bureaucrats, and army officers.
Redefined the meaning of ‘consent’: stating that unless a woman indicates ‘Yes’ to sex, either by word or by gesture, no one can ‘assume’ that she consented. In the present system, many rape cases go unpunished because a woman is ‘presumed’ to have consented unless she has marks of injury on her body or on the body of the accused. She is ‘presumed’ to have consented if she is married to the accused. A girl is ‘presumed’ to be incapable of consent to sexual contact if she is 16-18 years old, even if her partner is of a similar young age, unless she is married to him. Moreover, she is ‘presumed’ to be lying if the man she accuses is a public servant; a judge; a magistrate; or an army officer; that is why, in such cases, prior permission from the Govt is needed in order to prosecute the accused. Justice Verma sought to challenge and change these in-built, wrong assumptions that go against justice for women. 

Accepted expanded definition and scope of sexual assault, and more severe punishment
Expanded the meaning of sexual assault to cover a range of forms of sexual violence: from sexual harassment to stalking to voyeurism (making MMS etc) to acid-throwing to rape by insertion of an object or a male body part. Recommended higher and more severe punishment for various forms of sexual violence. 

Makes the perpetrator/accused in the rape law gender-neutral – i.e both men and women can be accused of rape. This will mean that if a woman files a rape complaint against a man, he can file a counter-complaint of rape against her!
Recognised that the victim of sexual violence could be ‘gender-neutral’ (i.e could be female/male/transgender/hijra etc), but that theperpetrator is male.
All mutual sexual contact between young girls and boys of the age group 16-18 is automatically termed as ‘rape’. This means that innocent young boys will face rape charges, for no crime except that they befriended young girls of their own age. And a generation of young boys who grow up without learning to see girls as equals and as friends, will be more likely to be violent towards women as adults.
Recognised that young people between the age of 16-18 do, naturally, indulge in sexual experimentation, and that such sexual contact between young people by mutual consent cannot automatically be termed ‘rape’.
Legitimises marital rape – i.e forced sexual contact by husband against wife’s consent. Therefore strengthens the idea of the wife as the ‘sexual property’ of the husband. Retains the provision of lesser sentence (minimum sentence of 2 years) for a husband who rapes a legally separated wife! Therefore, even if a wife has taken the pains to separate herself from an abusive husband, the law will make excuses for him if he rapes her, on the grounds that she was once his wife, and so he can be excused for thinking of her as his property! Not only that, according to the ordinance, wives cannot accuse husbands of sexual assault – but because of the ‘gender-neutral’ provision, husbands can accuse wives of sexual assault! Not only that, husbands cannot get life sentence or death sentence for sexual assault even of a separated wife, but a wife accused by a husband of sexual assault, can under the ordinance get life sentence and even death sentence!
Recognises that rape happens even within marriage. Asserted that sexual contact, even within a marriage, must be with a woman’s consent; a wife is not her husband’s property, and cannot be ‘expected’ to have sex with her husband, against her will. Therefore, recommended removal of the existing exemption of ‘marital rape’ from the rape law. Upheld the principle that in the case of rape and sexual assault, the relationship of the accused with the complainant will not be the basis for denying her claim of rape; neither can it be the basis for a more lenient sentence. Therefore recommended deletion of the provision of lenient sentence in case of rape of a legally separated wife by a husband.
Continues to protect the powerful. No provisions against candidates charged with sexual violence. Retains the requirement of ‘prior permission’ for prosecution of public servants/judges/magistrates/army officers. So, no Ruchika Girotra (molested by a police officer), Geetika Sharma or Rupam Pathak (raped by MLAs), Thangjam Manorama (raped by army personnel) can expect justice!
Sought to get rid of protections for powerful offenders. Recommended that politicians against whom a charge sheet has been filed for sexual violence, be prevented from contesting elections.Recommended that no sanction/prior permission be required to prosecute judges/magistrates/public servants who are accused of sexual violence; and similarly that the AFSPA be amended to do away with the requirement for sanction/prior permission to prosecute an army officer accused of sexual violence.Justice Verma’s argument is clear: no army officer nor any judge or public servant can claim to have raped in the course of his duty. As in any case, the Court can be the best judge, based on available evidence, of whether a complaint is false or true.  
Senior police/army officers will not be investigated or punished for custodial rapes that are committed at their orders or with their knowledge in custody by their junior officers.
Recommended changes in the law based on the principle of ‘command responsibility’ in case of custodial rape by police or army: i.e the principle that a superior officer will be held responsible if he orders or knowingly allows a junior officer to commit rape or sexual assault against a woman who is in custody, or is in a conflict area. This principle is very important if one looks at the rape of Soni Sori (Chhattisgarh SP Ankit Garg ordered his men to sexually torture her) or the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama in Manipur in the custody of personnel of the Assam Rifles. Such rapes could not have occurred without the knowledge and explicit orders/tacit consent of senior officers. Given the widespread prevalence of sexual violence in conflict areas, the JVC also recommended a review of the AFSPA, which is encouraging such violence. That AFSPA in any case has a provision for periodic review, which has however not been done.    
Does not prohibit ‘two-finger test,’ whereby a doctor puts two fingers into a rape survivor’s body to check if she is ‘habituated to sex.’ In fact, the ordinance’s definition of ‘rape’ (Section 375) legitimises this test, by stating that penetration or touching of private parts ‘for medical purposes’ (without specifying the need to obtain prior consent of the patient) will not be considered rape. The rape definition in the ordinance also, strangely, justifies penetration of the body for ‘hygienic’ purposes – so now, many rapists can try and explain away rape as a lesson in hygiene!          
Recommended changes in the existing medical investigation protocol rape survivor. Recommended prohibition of the demeaning two-finger test and other forms of medical examination that investigate women’s past sexual history. Also recommended a protocol to ensure sensitive medical care of a rape survivor.
Accepts changes in judicial procedure, but does nothing in the direction of speedier justice
Recommended more judges, more courts to ensure speedier trials and timely justice; also changes in judicial procedures to make rape trials gender-just.   

Did not recommend death sentence. 
Includes death sentence for rapes that result in death or permanent vegetative state of the victim. In the case of death of the victim, the provision of death sentence already exists and is nothing new. Death sentence for causing permanent vegetative state is dangerous for women: since the risk of hanging for murder and rape are the same, it is likely to become an incentive for the rapist to make sure to kill the victim so that she cannot testify against him.
Made the Govt responsible for the failure to protect women from violence
a)      recommended 5 years imprisonment for police personnel who fail to do their duty (i.e filing FIRs, pursuing a fair investigation), recommended comprehensive police reforms 
b)      recommended setting up of well-equipped Rape Crisis Centres; safe houses for women facing violence; forensic investigation; and juvenile justice homes
c)       Spelt out the Govt’s duty to ensure safe and adequate public transport, and safety at bus stops and on streets, and a range of other governance measures.    
No efforts to ensure police accountability or governance;
a)      Punishment for failure to register FIR or biased investigation is just a token 1 year; no police reforms
b)      No provisions for rape crisis centres, forensic facilities, safe houses, juvenile homes etc
c)       No governance measures such as public transport etc to ensure safer public spaces for women