The television chatter reminded me of the approaching International Women’s Day.
It also reminded me of the following:
A police officer in the rank of deputy superintendent had been killed in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
His widow is demanding justice without directly accusing anyone in particular. The general suspicion is on one Raja Bhaiyya [the second word means big brother] from various indications including some from the widow.
Incidentally, Bhaiyya – is a former minister in Uttar Pradesh with 7 criminal cases against him.
And Raja claims there is a conspiracy to besmirch his flourishing political career.
Nobody wants to say who killed the DSP Zia-Ul-Haq.
Incidentally, Haq means right.
May be the dead have no rights.
A minor point being debated is whether Haq died from a single bullet wound or three - as being stated by the police and the widow respectively.
One does not know as to why nobody is talking about the video of the body when the post mortem was being performed. That is a vital record that cannot be erased at all. That would show how many bullets were fired into the dead a dodo Haq.
On the eve of there were indications that the Union Cabinet will adopt on the International Women’s Day, Justice Verma Committee recommendations advocating the replacing of the word “Rape” with the rather tepid sexual assault to deal with beasts dishonouring women sexually in private or in public.
I am not privy to what exactly Justice Verma recommended and how much of it has been marred by the Union Cabinet.
According to the proposed amendment, the age of consent to sex by females will be lowered to that of 16.
The report stated that stalking of females, acid attacks on girls will be treated as sexual crimes … whatever that means.
That the law is an ass is pointed out by some of the following lacunae:
Army personnel accused of raping women, because of being armed with special powers in disturbed areas [like Kashmir and the northeast 7 sister states of India] cannot be tried under this law to have the dated suffix of 2013. So those donning military uniforms can rape women in disturbed areas and not even be tried for it!
By lowering the age for sexual consent to 16, does the law mean to say that women raped beyond the age of 18 can be termed those of easy virtue?
A rape victim in Mamata Didi ruled West Bengal’s now dying city called Kolkata was termed as a female of easy virtue or in plain words ... a prostitute … who can be raped!
Someone said the same thing about another girl who has been changing her statement in Kerala vis-à-vis a man who is the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha!
Celebrated public interest litigant Vincent Panikulangara of Kerala had pointed out the lacunae in the Indian laws thus:
Indian laws aid and abet rapists and bridegrooms illegally marrying minor females.
For over 30 years, in India that is Bharat, we have accounted for over 40% of world’s child marriages.
This has been exposed by a UNICEF report.
UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report, points out that 40% of the world’s child marriages occur in India.
The study found that 47% of India’s women aged 20-24 were married before the legal age of 18.
Around 56% of such occurrences were found in rural areas.
Those caught red handed for outraging the modesty of women and worse, use mazes of alibis and exceptions to commit multiples of more heinous crimes.
The culprits are two archaic and anti-minor-women provisions of the India Penal Code sections 375 and 376 in the context of the Child Marriage Restraint Act (CMRA) 1929, Special Marriage Act 1954 and Hindu Marriage Act 1955. The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006, which was supposed to repeal CMRA is not in force for want of notification by the Central Government. The indifference of law makers, law commissions, women’s commissions and activist groups indirectly allowing archaic and contradictory provisions in penal code to continue since 1978 make a mockery of both criminal and civil law.
Sections 375 and 376 IPC regarding rape and its punishment respectively when applied to the above are two of the main misnomers.
Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act and Hindu Marriage Act (1956) read with CMRA prohibits marriages between men and women below the ages of 21 and 18 respectively.
IPC 375 defines rape as a man’s sexual intercourse with an under-16 woman against her will/consent.
Sex with under-15 “wives” is made out as an exemption as per provisions of Section 376 rendering the whole proviso meaningless.
Section 376 of Indian Penal Code allows guilty rapists escape with less than 2 year terms if a female victim is ‘a wife not being under twelve years of age’ while the civil laws prohibit it!
Sexual intercourses with a minor Indian women over 16 with her consent, which is not validated by the parent/guardian, is not rape, is not against any law in India - another wonderful piece of legal antithesis.
Sexual intercourses with minor women deed over 15 years cannot be termed rape will other laws expressly prohibit it!
All this boils down to the ridiculous situation as per these laws, a male can indulge in sexual intercourse with Indian minor female of 16 years and above with impunity if he does not marry her!
Sex sans marriage is legal. But marriage even without sex is an offence. According to our law, what constitutes the offence is marriage and not sex!
Offenders can prove their female minor rape victims were above 15 years and manage a ‘marriage certificate or photograph’, claim her as a “wife” and get away more often than not scot free with blue murder despite contravening the civil law which says the exact opposite.
Offenders can escape punishment for having sex with minor females above 12 years by managing to prove the victim is his ‘wife’ vide a child marriage certificate and in the worst case scenario emerge from a maximum prison sentence of 2 years.
Worse, each of these offences is an alibi for multiple future offences and aids multiple, dubious, acquittals on technical grounds.
Demon king Ravana and prince Dushasana were believed to be killed in epic battles of Ramayana and Mahabharata thousands of years ago as punishments for what cannot be termed even ‘attempted rapes’ by modern standards.
While women are sold as chattel in drought stricken regions of the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh where a woman is the Chief Minister today, guilty rapists are managing to go scot since 1978 as our law makers, law commissions, women’s commissions and NGOs functioning for avowedly empowering women have not closed these gaping shameful holes in our statute.
Dr Vincent Panikulangara is no ordinary man.
He practices in the Kerala High Court and also in India’s Supreme Court.
He has exposed human rights violations, environment hazards, consumer exploitation, pharmaceutical misuses and police atrocities.
He is a visiting lecturer in several US Universities and is the founder general secretary of Public Interest Law Service Society, a non-profit body based in Kochi since 1980.
The First Lady of the United States of America, Mrs Michelle Barack Obama along with Secretary of State John Kerry will give an award to the medico rape victim ‘Nirbhaya’ [the fearless] another news item said.
On the eve of the honour being presented to the family of the victim posthumously, the US state department described ‘Nirbhaya’ as the courageous 23-year-old physiotherapy intern whose bravery has become the foundation of a popular movement to end violence against women in India.
According to reports, the victim’s brother has stopped attending coaching classes to prepare for engineering entrance exams, though he has not withdrawn his application to be enrolled in April after the tests. None is really sure as to whether the trauma’s psychological ill-effects will allow him to get through the tests.
The 23-year-old victim’s mother is finding it difficult to cope with high blood pressure dogging her.
Nirbhaya’s father has problems in walking following a knee infection.
The brothers do not want to face the accused. They have been quoted as saying that such an exercise would be futile and painful.
Since the announcement regarding the American award, the family is being besieged by strangers and the media.
“A lot of unknown people come and ask us about her, media as well. We answer all queries, but it is painful. We go back to the same sadness,” the girl’s father was quoted as saying in an interview.
The Department of State’s International Women of Courage Award annually recognizes women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk. Since the inception of this award in 2007, the Department of State has honoured 67 women from 45 countries.
Apart from Nirbhaya, the 2013 awardees’ list comprises Malalai Bahaduri, first sergeant, Afghan National Interdiction Unit (Afghanistan); Samira Ibrahim, coordinator, Know Your Rights (Egypt); Julieta Castellanos, rector, National Autonomous University of Honduras (Honduras); Josephine Obiajulu Odumakin, president, Campaign for Democracy (Nigeria); Elena Milashina, journalist, human rights activist (Russia); Fartuun Adan, executive director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre (Somalia); Tsering Woeser (Wei Se), Tibetan author, poet, blogger (China); Razan Zeitunah, human rights lawyer and founder, Local Coordination Committees (Syria) and Ta Phong Tan, blogger (Vietnam).
A television commercial that followed, proclaimed that it is not our borders that we need to guard, but the honour of our women.
The question is: are we doing that?
Here are indications proving the exact opposite!
A day ago, cops publicly caned a girl who defended her honour brutally in Punjab.
The trio has been suspended.
That is the law, says the ruling party in Punjab, The Akali Dal.
Most journalists are not convinced.
The law also states that the cops should guard the people and should not indulge in unlawful activity themselves.
Is the police department really doing it?
Three minor girls were raped and dumped in a well in Bhandara, Maharashtra, a few weeks ago.
Serious action against the accused is yet to take place.
Here are instances that would shock all and sundry, i.e. those with a conscience:
A team of officials from the Forest Department in Gangau Abhyaran of Panna Tiger Reserve arrested Rakesh Adhikari on false charges of hunting Nilgai on 3 May 2011.
When he denied the allegations and when the officials could not find any evidence of such a hunt, they left, only to return with a team of 22-24 officials at 5am with a skin of Nilgai to plant it as ‘evidence’.
Rakesh was being beaten up.
His protesting wife pregnant wife Seema was kicked in the stomach that led to her losing her twin boy foetuses.
Seema was denied admission into the Panna District hospital and referred her to Jabalpur.
Seema continued to suffer as there was no ambulance to make the trip.
After two days’ haggling, Seema was admitted for a few days and discharged.
Rakesh is on bail.
In spite of repeated requests, no action has been taken on the First Information Report filed on the basis of complaints of official misbehaviour.
On March 23 2012, Border Security Force personnel shot one Babu Sheikh in the chest in front of witnesses.
According to family members of Babu, he was tortured to death while in custody.
Babu’s body was recovered by a sub-inspector of police Nilanjan Roy and a case of unnatural death vide U/D (Unnatural Death) Case No. 04/12 dated 23 March 2012.
B. Bibi, the widow of the deceased accused unnamed BSF personnel in an FIR registered in Rani Nagar police station [case 155/12] against unknown BSF personnel of 91st Battalion under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code.
The whereabouts of 3 others who were alongside the deceased are still not known.
The police officers refused to get any proper forensic examination of the crime done.
Finally, Babu's family did not receive the post-mortem examination report.
Some two months before this, on January 1 2012, BSF personnel “arrested” farmer Krishna Mondal without giving any reason.
With his hands tied behind his back, the victim with the butts of their rifles.
The victim was stripped and bamboo slivers inserted into his nail ends and private parts.
Even as Krishna was bleeding profusely from numerous wounds, he was jettisoned in the forest.
BSF officials threatened to kill Krishna if he lodged a complaint at the local police station.
A written complaint was couriered by the victim's wife Anita to the Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad.
No action has resulted.
Later, in to cover its tracks, the BSF recently issued a statement claiming increased self-restraint on the use of lethal weapons and attempts to minimise the loss of human lives!
Can the police department operate under one law and apply another to the ordinary citizens?
Well, Indian officialdom believes it can do exactly that.
Then we have schmucks like Ass-Ram-Bapu belittling the heroines like Nirbhaya.
I slammed him in this blog.
So, we the frustrated people of India that is Bharat can only hope thus:
There shall be a morn
The night’s dark veil
The world’s wonderful visage
Shall slip off
The clouds of sadness
The arrival of joy
The skies shall dance colourfully
And the earth shall sing in open glee
We have been ceaselessly dying to behold
The new dawn of hope
To taste a wee bit of nectar
We quaffed poison carafes
The thirst of hungry souls shall
Shall be surely sated
While it is true
Our aspirations have no value today
While even mud has a price
Humans have no value at all
There shall be a morn
The honour of humanity
Shall not be sold for
Counterfeit pieces of metalled currency
There shall be such a morn
These are words from the immortal poet Saahir Ludhianvi written for the 1958 classic Phir Subah Hogi [A New Morn Shall Dawn] starring Raj Kapoor.
The film was based on the Dostoyevsky classic Crime and Punishment.
And yes sir, we are very, very angry.
Here is something I wrote upon the death of Nirbhaya:
Oh belittled bit of
India’s injured female conscience!
Some Satanic characters
Born amidst us
Your private honour publicly
And then flung you
As a deflowered bud
To gather dust
In a cold
In India's rape capital
The seemingly endless
Buck passing began
We rushed to help
Yelped the police
Bus windows will vanish
As if it matters now
The guilty will be punished
A sizeable number
Of their ilk
Youth outraged at the outrage
Guilty of being
Callously calling them
Commercial sex workers
Your guileless innocence
Of climbing into an unchartered bus
As the root of your guilt
The sinister official system
Created by cussed colonial crooks
Loaded in their favour
Only to cite helplessness
Pretended to voluntarily invite
Death penalty upon themselves
For their heinous crime
As though its multiples were committed
Used bent cops to twist your deposition
Fiend piloted leviathan of crime
Was never impounded
Is still left untouched
In The Almighty’s comforting pram
That piece of your hurt soul
Is being offered solace
By the much needed
Divine healing touch
So what about
The infinitely angry ‘us’
I ask the heartless
Inhuman governing bodies
Of India’s rape capital
Being in cahoots
With those who
Our mothers land sisters
Akin to you
No matter how you try
This nation’s curse
Echoed from the heavens
By that little one
With your ill-gotten stinking wealth
Your despicable power
Your atrocious authority
You shall perish
And shall be condemned to
Fie on you!
Fie on you!
Fie on you!
I have personal angers on this issue:
In an earlier International Women’s Day, I wrote this:
Can we journalists make a difference and register our protest to the uncaring cops?
Yes we can, by shaming them.
Journalists covering police press conferences in New Delhi can don “T” shirts that proclaim: “Even if one of those who marred and mired Nirbhaya does not hang because you botch the cases, remember to hang your heads in shame!”
It may not amount to much.
But, it would amount to shaming the guilty, in silent loudness.
Someday, someone’s conscience would eventually wake up.