Tuesday, 19 February 2013
to Demand Effective Law gainst Sexual Violence Based on Justice Verma Recommendations!
SPEAKERS WILL INCLUDE:
12 Noon - 5 PM
Shabana Azmi, Vrinda Grover, Madhu Mehra, Nilanjana Roy, Gautam Bhan, Rebecca John, Binalakshmi Nepram, Kamal Chenoy, Maitreyee Pushpa, Anand Pradhan, Bimol Akoijam, JNUSU leaders, and many other scholars, activists of the women's and students' movement
5-8 PM: Cultural performance including
Street play 'Bekhauf Azaadi' by Hirawal from Patna
Performance by Maya Krishna Rao
Solo Theatrical Performance by Rojio Usham, based on the Poetry of Irom Sharmila
Music and Poetry by Nihal Parashar and his group
Songs on the theme of women's movement and people's movements!
Do Join in Large Numbers! Buses Will Leave from JNU, DU, Jamia Millia Islamia, contact for details:
Freedom Without Fear- Bekhauf Azadi,
Campaign Against Sexual Violence and Gender Discrimination
Contact: 9868383692 , 9868033425 , 9213974505
Friday, 15 February 2013
No to Eyewash Ordinance,
For An Effective Law Against Sexual Violence
Based on Justice Verma Recommendations
Keep The Flame Alive ... Against Rape And Sexual Violence
From the 1st Day of the Budget Session, 21 February, Thursday, 12 Noon, Jantar Mantar,
PEOPLE'S WATCH OVER PARLIAMENT
The Govt's ordinance does not even attempt to protect our right to 'Freedom Without Fear', instead it systematically overturns and rejects every recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee that seeks to safeguard women's autonomy and undo deeply-entrenched gender bias, end the impunity enjoyed by powerful rapists, and ensure accountability on part of the police. We have kept the struggle going for nearly two months now - let us keep the flame kindled by Delhi's brave-heart burning bright, and let us ensure that the Govt, in the Budget Session of Parliament, is forced to heed our voice. Be there in large numbers in the People's Watch Over Parliament, starting February 21, the first day of the Budget Session, 12 noon onwards, Jantar Mantar.
Freedom Without Fear- Bekhauf Azadi,
Campaign Against Sexual Violence and Gender Discrimination
Contact: 9868383692, 9868033425, 9213974505
Tuesday, 12 February 2013
The Proposed Changes to the anti-rape laws are token sops that gloss over the Verma report.
ANY ORDINANCE is promulgated as an emergency measure. Women live in a daily state of ‘emergency’, their freedom curbed by the fear of sexual violence. But it is not this emergency that has prompted the government’s ordinance. Rather, for the government, the ‘emergency’ was the desperate need to somehow dilute and divert the Justice Verma recommendations, which reflected the aims and demands of the ongoing countrywide movement.
The Justice Verma Report was a breath of fresh air, letting in the flowing wind of democracy and freedom into all the prisons of patriarchy. For the first time, here was a set of reasoned recommendations, backed by painstaking homework recognising that sexual violence was about power, not sex; that removed sexual violence from the frame of ‘shame-honour’ and understood it in terms of women’s bodily integrity and dignity; and which sought to ablate the unbridled power and impunity that breeds violence against women. The ordinance, instead, shores up the walls of patriarchal privilege and impunity.
It is true that the ordinance broadens the definition of sexual violence, recognises stalking, acid-throwing and voyeurism as an offence, and introduces more severe punishments. But on a range of key questions, the ordinance actively militates against women’s autonomy and rights, and protects the impunity of powerful rapists, and the lack of accountability of police and other institutions.
Justice Verma’s Report had 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. On the other hand, 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. 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 government is needed to prosecute the accused. Justice Verma sought to challenge and change these in-built patriarchal assumptions, the protective shields for the powerful, that go against justice for women. The ordinance’s purpose, instead, seems to have been to prevent these patriarchal assumptions and protective shields from being swept away.
And further, the ordinance adds provisions that make women even more vulnerable than they are under the existing laws. For instance, the ordinance makes the perpetrator of rape ‘gender neural’, i.e. both men and women can be accused of rape. This could mean that if a woman files a rape complaint against a man, he is in the right to file a counter complaint of rape against her!
The ordinance does not respect the rights of young girls between the age of 16 and 18 to have sexual contact by their consent with those of a similar age. Instead, by automatically branding all such sexual contact as ‘sexual violence’, the ordinance will strengthen the Khap panchayats and moral policing brigades, who seek to curb the freedom of young people.
The ordinance legitimises marital rape and strengthens the idea of the wife as the ‘sexual property’ of the husband. It also retains the provision of lesser sentence (minimum of two years) for a husband who rapes a legally separated wife. So, even if a wife has taken the pain to separate herself from an abusive husband, the law will make excuses for him if he rapes her. Effectively, the ordinance implies that while wives are specifically prevented from being able to accuse husbands of sexual assault — because of the ‘gender-neutral’ provision, husbands can now accuse wives of sexual assault. The exclusion of marital rape and the lesser sentence for rape of a separated wife are shocking violations of the principle, upheld by Verma, that the relationship or prior relationship of the accused with the victim will not be grounds to undermine the rape complaint or show leniency.
There is a deliberate attempt now, on part of the government as well as a variety of patriarchal voices that have become active, to suggest that ‘marital rape’ is a ‘controversial’ issue. This is strange, to say the least. What is controversial about saying that a woman, by marrying, does not sign away her sexual autonomy for life? We should ask those who are painting apocalyptic visions of disintegrating families as a result of recognising marital rape: do you mean that marriage and the family institutions rest on the pillar of the sexual power a husband enjoys over his wife? By recognising marital rape, will we not, in fact, democratise the institution of marriage to a greater extent?
The ordinance continues to offer a shield of impunity to the powerful. There are no provisions against elected candidates chargesheeted for sexual violence. It retains the requirement of ‘prior permission’ for prosecution of public servants / judges / magistrates / army officers. So, no Ruchika Girotra or Soni Sori (molested and tortured by police officers), Geetika Sharma or Rupam Pathak (raped by MLAs), or Thangjam Manorama (raped by army personnel) can expect justice under this ordinance. Senior police or 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.
The government argues that the prior sanction clause is needed to protect public servants and army officers from ‘false complaints’. Why should the government be allowed to decide if a woman’s complaint of sexual violence is false or true? Why can’t the courts be left to decide this, especially in cases where the accused is powerful?
To ensure accountability of the police, Justice Verma has stipulated a punishment of five years imprisonment for failure to register an FIR or biased investigation, in order to instil fear of consequence in police personnel who fail to abide by the law. But the ordinance dilutes this to a mere one year.
The ordinance betrays its patriarchal core by continuing to call molestation as “outraging modesty”. Not only does it fail to ban the demeaning and sexist two-finger test, its definition of rape actually legitimises the two-finger test, in the name of “penetration for medical purposes”.
The shoddily-drafted and antiwomen ordinance, promulgated by stealth before any citizen of the country had even seen it, is a disservice to the painstakingly prepared Justice Verma Report that was formulated by a democratic and rigorous process. This is why there is a public outcry against it.
THE GOVERNMENT’s position is that they have not ‘rejected’ any of the Verma Committee’s recommendations, but have simply left out ‘controversial’ provisions. Women’s autonomy and rights, and the question of ending impunity and ensuring accountability are the backbone of the Verma Report; by terming these controversial, the government has revealed its own ideological bias.
The ordinance continues to make excuses for rape in a variety of contexts — and that is why it must, at the earliest, be replaced by a thoroughgoing Criminal Amendment Act that is based on the Justice Verma recommendations. The government must also back the Verma recommendations with budgetary allocations in the forthcoming Budget: spending enough on rape crisis centres, more judges and courts to ensure speedier trials, safe houses for women facing violence in their homes, and forensic facilities, rather than on lakhs of crores of tax giveaways to huge corporations.
Please sign the petition nd get your friends, colleagues, classmates to sign in large numbers!
Thursday, 7 February 2013
Take Forward the Struggle Against Sexual Violence!
NO to Government’s Eyewash Ordinance!
Parliament Must Implement Justice Verma Recommendations!
Are Our Lawmakers Ready to Listen to the Voice of the Movement Against Sexual Violence?
Onwards to People’s Watch Over Parliament,
Starting on February 21, 1st Day of the Budget Session, at Jantar Mantar
The horrific gang-rape of December 16 sparked off a massive movement that brought us all on the streets to say ‘Enough is Enough’ and demand action to ensure women’s freedom from sexual violence and gender discrimination. In keeping with the spirit of the movement, the Justice Verma Committee came out with a path-breaking Report, with recommendations that, if implemented, would truly make women less vulnerable to violence. But, instead of implementing the Justice Verma Report, the Government has instead chosen to pass an ordinance that completely subverts the substance and spirit of the Verma recommendations!
Does the ordinance answer the demands we were raising, of freedom and safety for women? No, instead, it mocks them!
· The ordinance, going AGAINST Justice Verma’s recommendations, says that both men and women can be accused of sexual assault and rape! Is this not a cruel joke with the women of the country? Whenever a woman files a complaint of rape, the accused will file a counter-complaint of rape against her!
· According to the ordinance, any sexual contact, including touching, between young people of the age 16-18 will automatically be termed ‘sexual assault’, even if it is by mutual consent among friends! This is a law that can help the khap panchayats and moral police brigades that terrorise young girls and boys, not women! Again, this is the exact opposite of what Justice Verma had recommended.
· The ordinance justifies and legalises marital rape. Even if a wife separates legally from her husband, the husband will get a lenient (2 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 whether 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. 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. Strangely, under the ordinance does not allow wives to accuse husbands of sexual assault – but husbands can file cases of sexual assault against their wives, and theoretically, wives can even get the life sentence or death penalty for ‘repeat offences’!
· It rejects Justice Verma’s recommendation that politicians against whom a charge sheet has been filed for sexual violence, be prevented from contesting elections; that no government permission be required to prosecute judges/magistrates/public servants/army officers who are 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. Why should the Government be allowed to decide whether a case is true or false – even before a Court has seen the evidence? No Ruchika Girotra or Soni Sori (molested by a police officer), Geetika Sharma or Rupam Pathak (raped by MLAs), or Thangjam Manorama (raped by army personnel) can expect justice under this ordinance!
· Justice Verma has stipulated a punishment of 5 years imprisonment for failure to register an FIR or biased investigation, in order to instil fear of consequence in police personnel who fail to abide by the law. But the ordinance dilutes this to a mere 1 year, and so clearly sends a message of leniency out to the police. Also, the ordinance refuses to punish a senior officer who orders or knowingly allows custodial rape by a police or army personnel.
· The ordinance continues to insult women by referring to sexual violence as ‘outraging modesty.’ So, in courts, women who complain of violence will have to ‘prove’ their modesty’ in order to get the molester punished!
· The ordinance fails to ban the demeaning and anti-women medical ‘two-finger test,’ whereby a doctor inserts two fingers into the rape survivor’s body in order to record whether or not she is ‘habituated to sex.’ So, it continues to allow the unjust question of a woman’s past sexual relationships to be brought into the rape trial.
· The ordinance rejected Justice Verma’s recommendation of action against khap panchayats that kill young couples who marry out of choice
The Budget Session of Parliament begins on February 21. The Government will seek to enact a law based on this shoddy and anti-women, anti-people ordinance – that will become a tool against women, girls and boys – rather than against perpetrators of sexual violence. It is up to us to build enough pressure on Government and Parliament, to tell them – we are watching you, and we demand a law as well as budgetary allocations based on the Justice Verma recommendations, not on the eyewash of the ordinance!
We demand that Parliament enact genuine, comprehensive, pro-women legislative changes based on the Justice Verma recommendations!
We demand budgetary allocations for rape crisis centres, more judges and courts to ensure speedier trials, safe houses for women facing violence in their homes, and forensic facilities! We want the Government’s Budget to spend on these things that women need – rather than gifting lakhs of crores to corporations as tax giveaways!
We demand reform to ensure accountability of the police and judiciary!
On February 21, the first day of the Budget Session of Parliament, we will begin a "People’s Watch Over Parliament" – do join, spread the word, bring your friends, colleagues, family! Contact us to join the campaign and help build support. See http://bekhaufazadi.blogspot.in/ for campaign materials, updates and campaign plans, and information about protest actions.
Keep the Flame Alive...That the Delhi Braveheart Rekindled...
Freedom Without Fear
Campaign Against Sexual Violence and Gender Discrimination
9560756628, 9868383692, 9868033425, 9953736392, 9013219020
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