Tag: Delhi gang rape

Why “India’s daughter” and sons cry in anger? Let us face it


Since March 4, 2015 every one in the social media in India and that of Indian origin were speculating about a new episode that would be unveiled by the BBC through its documentary India’s Daughter. When it was released on March 5th ahead of its original date on March 8, everyone who could watch it, had their own reactions: anger, shame, coupled with a feeling of frustration when the Government of India decided to ban the documentary film in Indian jurisdiction. But  note that we are in the internet era and this frustration was not for not being able to see the documentary in the television or the YouTube, but because of the failure of the criminal justice machinery to take action against the people who expressed their (peculiar) opinions about women in Indian society and about the delay in the hearing date in the Supreme Court which would have given the final verdict for the fate of the convicts if it was taken up at an urgent basis. When it came for me to watch it, I actually felt reluctant. I already had gone through hundreds of ‘reviews’ of the film within the day from my Facebook friends, Twitter handles that I follow and the other online portals who were discussing about the issue. It was expected that majority of men would speak about women’s liability in getting sexually victimised, women would speak about better education and awareness to stop sexual harassment and violence against women and the film itself would speak about the callous situation India is going through. What was unexpected was the version of the two lawyers who openly challenged women’s right to be equal human beings in Indian society. I did get to see bits and pieces of the film and like all of other readers I felt frustrated. But my frustration lies in different grounds:
Let us speak from the perspective of ethical issues: defending a client is a noble work and Indian constitution like many other constitutions guarantees the rights of the accused to defend his case through his lawyer. But by way of defence, a lawyer can not make any offending comments to women at large. I understand that many from the  legal fraternity would have made  complaints to the Bar Council of India against the two lawyers who were interviewed by Udwin for the purpose of this documentary. But interestingly I find it more offensive due to the way of usage of language by the lawyers. None could speak proper English and this made the offensive comments more vulgar and offensive to me: consider one comment “……..The ‘lady’, on the other hand, you can say the ‘girl’ or ‘woman’, are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is up to you how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop it.”( by M.L.Sharma, the lawyer). There are many other such statements from both the lawyers. But what angers me is the understanding of the lawyers: women are certainly not ‘things’ and men are always not ‘dogs’. Again, consider this statement from the same lawyer “….. A woman means, I immediately put the sex in his eyes.” What exactly he wanted to mean is unclear to me, but I do understand that may be he wanted to say men and women cannot be ‘friends’  and other than being blood related, they are always sexual partners. But certainly a woman cannot and should not be treated as a ‘sex-item’ if she is seen with a man who is not her husband, father or brother or son. If the statements were taken in Hindi or in any other regional language, I am sure, the effects would have been more devastating because he would have been blunter like the rapist himself. The other lawyer nonetheless, was more direct in his warning to all women who would choose to roam in the streets with their boyfriends.  Did these two lawyers forget the basic principles of equality to all guaranteed in the Indian constitution? Did they know that their remarks can attract provisions like S.509 of the Indian Penal Code which prescribes punishment for derogatory remarks to women? Did they know such comments may even attract provisions meant for criminal intimidation, threatening etc, all of which are basic provisions in the Indian Penal Code? How could they turn into defence lawyers in criminal courts without knowing the basic criminal provisions which safeguard women in India? What sort of legal education they may have got?
Now coming to the rapist’s confessions; at one point of time, I felt that the documentary was actually helpful to the prosecution because the rapist had confessed his crimes publicly. His statements about his own past, his acquaintance with other rapists and their involvements in the rape case leave no doubts about his involvement in this case. This was no ‘accident.’ He is probably a habitual eve teaser and also sexual offender. He along with his gang, raped and brutally hurt the woman to death. He confessed that the victim’s intestine was brought out by the other rapist and they all enjoyed sadistically her situation. He does not have any remorse. He cannot. As some other interviewees pointed out, he is one such man who are brought up with the idea that women are inferior to men and women are to be beaten, sexually assaulted and killed if and when men feel. His lawyers as well as some other men opined that women ‘provocate’ men to rape by their dressing, by their ‘independence’ to roam in the nights. Prosecution can well use these points ( and probably had used already) to prove his criminal mindset and make the case as one ‘rarest of rare.’ But consider why then the government would have blocked the video in India?  First of all, as per the Indian criminal laws, a rape victim’s name or identity cannot be published publicly. By now, we all know that her name was Jyoti. But the counter arguments may show that her parents did not object for publicising her name. However, subsequent reports told that her parents neither wanted such show-off of their daughter’s victimisation. Further, as the news media says, the director of the film was not given permission for commercial usage of the film. Have you considered why such restrictions are put in this case? The case is not yet closed. Forget about what image India has as a ‘rape capital.’ But have you noted this almost sidelined ‘headline’ which appeared almost successively following this documentary controversy? If you are not aware, let me take the opportunity: in Nagaland a large group of people broke into the jail to publicly thrash a rape convict who later died of the beatings. The public anger towards the rapist and the lawyers may have reached such height that before they can be prosecuted or charged or the final verdict be given by the court, they may face similar fate. Who stands responsible then? The same media and the human rights activists may then take their own turns to defend the rights of the accused to be tried by the proper channel. Seeing in that perspective, probably the government has taken the right decision to block the video within the Indian jurisdiction which, they are empowered by S.69A of the Information Technology Act  which gives power to issue direction for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource (not to forget, the order is restricted within Indian jurisdiction, even though the Information Technology Act extends its scope for offences or contraventions done beyond the jurisdiction of India).
But now, let us see it from researcher’s point of view: why would the video be suspended when we can get to see the beheading videos? When internet can spread the video from one site to another or share the same in personal homepage, giving every one opportunity to see a banned video?  I also support the arguments of some that let the video be open at least for the purpose of research. Let it not be used for commercial purposes (even though as alleged, the director has actually sold the rights to BBC and BBC may not restrict it for non-commercial purposes). The rage regarding this video may have a natural death (let us hope) because (I fear) it cannot influence those who live in societies where such videos are not seen as ‘awareness creating’ videos and rather this would be seen as a fitting reply to women’s boldness. Unfortunately, as the documentary shows, India has more of such societies. Let us hope that the documentary returns only for non-commercial purpose and enlighten those who can take the message to those societies and people who feel women are born to be victimised.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2015), Why “India’s daughter” and sons cry in anger? Let us face it, March 6,2015, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/

Security of women in whose hands?


It was an anxious moment for almost every citizen in the country who was waiting to see what awaits the rapists of Nirbhaya, the Delhi gang rape victim. Right on the eve of the judgement day however, I came across another news which led me to think more than I was expected to think on the gang rape verdict: the electronic personal safety device (Epsd) which is on its way specially to protect women in distress ( See http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/watchlike-device-to-alert-kin-of-women-in-distress/article5107722.ece) . I would have forgotten the information as‘regular news’ which kindles our mind only for a minute or two had I not been  called for an interview by PuthiyaThalaimurai, a Tamil News channel, on the judgement day. The breaking news that this TV channel was airing after 2 in the afternoon obviously braced the issue of the verdict, especially the death penalty and people’s emotions related to it. I was asked about my opinion as an advocate, a woman advocate rather. The reporter, while giving his details and interviewing me, told about the 12 year old school girl in Tuticorin, who was brutally raped and then killed by the rapist almost within a week after the Delhi gang rape case happened. While I was giving my views as to what sentence can be expected in this particular rape case, I started realising how far the society has become blood thirsty for rapists. As a woman and a mother of a girl, even I myself would have wanted any one who sexually abuses or assaults another woman or a minor girl, to go through similar or even more physical pain and mental trauma that he would have caused to his victim. However, as an advocate and a legal researcher, I need to be more rational.
But an ‘EPSD’ for protecting women from sexual abusers?
 After going through hoards of news reports about the Delhi verdict and knowing how brutally the little girl in Tuticorin was killed, I could not stop thinking the ‘watch like device’ as similar to geolocator loggers or collars used for tracking migratory birds or wild animals and the women who would be wearing it, as experimental guinea pigs trapped and tracked for no fault of theirs.
I have some points to think it as anti feminist:
i.Even though the operation of it would be manual, i.e, the woman can switch on the device only when she needs to alert her people, what happens when the it gets accidentally ( or even intentionally) switched on by the  harasser if he wishes to show the harassment, disrobing or even rape of the victim to the select audience through even smarter technology ?
ii. Given the fact that laws in India are still confused about tracking a non-criminal person by private individuals including the parents, husbands or other immediate family members, would the privacy-infringement laws be amended again to include this exception? In that case, we need to be ready for the misuse of the law also.
iii. Nonetheless, our Indian society is changing. Won’t this device present another debatable issue similar to dress-code or gagging the right to use mobile phones or internet for women ( I discussed about this in one of my earlier blogs @ http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.in/2012/12/gagging-right-to-digital-communication.html)?
Well, I am not the only one who is thinking in these lines. Some of the comment –contributors of the news report on the device did express similar concern.
But I must say, the device is a safety device and apparently women would be given freedom to use it or not to use it since The Constitution of India has given equal rights to women to live their own lives. Saying this, I can neither ignore the benefits of the device. Tracking of criminals through GPS system is introduced to Indian police system quite a long ago. Almost all the police head quarters and police stations including stations situated in interior parts of India are expected to stay connected to track the criminal through this; and this device can be an extended mobile version of criminal tracking system, which would be carried by women. It can be expected that in future everyone, irrespective of their gender can use it for alerting the police about the crime and the criminal.
But still then, I can’t stop thinking: has our society gone so low that it has to tie the crime detector on women (my angry soul  can’t stop myself from giving the name to our gender in great dismay ‘the sex-thing’)?
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2013), “Security of women in whose hands, 15thSeptember,2013, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/

The black spot: I say NO


Gang rape of the Delhi woman and her subsequent death left everyone shocked, sad and insecure. I was no exception. Being a woman myself, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a chill ran through my spines when I first heard about the incidence. Immediately after the incidence, the news papers are flooded with so many rape cases. The news channels are constantly talking about how to bring out a preventive law and whether the rapist/s should be given death penalty or not. The social media became active too. People built up communities, forums and groups to discuss about the issue and many of us showed personal ‘touch’ to the issue by putting our thoughts through our status messages. I personally have signed on-line petitions  praying for preventing such kinds of brutal torture to women and bringing in stricter preventive laws against the rapists. However, as a civil society using the social media to express concern, I noticed that some of the users of the Facebook and Twitter are circulating pictures of the poor victim and encouraging (almost forcing) others to do the same. I know this could be an unreal picture. But still then,  PLEASE DONT. Women like me want to remember this victim as one who could make people feel the need to change the stigma attached to rape. The entire nation stood up to accept her as a brave girl and slammed the rapist. But at the same time, I have also seen some discussing if she recovers how can she face the society. I felt angry and simultaneously sad. A sect of the society ( a large chunk) still think that women are raped or physically assaulted must shy away from the society. Why ? Just because someone other than her husband penetrated her vagina against her will? Just because someone crushed her  bare breast without having the tag of being her husband ? I don’t support such mentality. Time has come to accept the rape victim as a victim of a cruel man made brutal and torturous ‘accident’. And for this I congratulate those who made the government to think of changing the laws.
 At the same time, I was asked by many to wear black spot in my profile picture as a mark of shame. I refused. As a woman I will show my protest through my own self, not through a blackened picture. My answer to those who had been urging others to wear the black spot is, black spot is bold but dumb. If you have the courage, protest against the rapist, the government in activities and administrative failures through your own identity. The issue has gained a momentum and no one wants to shut the other protester. If women start wearing black spot, it will symbolise that we are letting the male dominated society to think that we are ashamed of our womanhood. For men, it will symbolise that they are shying away from the responsibility of promising to build a safe world. As the things are turning, there will be rape news every day in every news paper now. It may have tremendous effect on the society. May be the educated, aware citizens will finally wake up to understand that such creatures who are called ‘rapists’ must be blackened and not the victims. Hence face the phase with brave faces and protest with strong words.
** The author does not intend to hurt anybody’s sentiments. This is an independent view of the author and the author has expressed her views in her own right towards exercising freedom of speech. If anybody feels hurt, the author apologises in advance.
Please Note: Do not violate copyright of this blog. If you would like to use informations provided in this blog for your own assignment/writeup/project/blog/article, please cite it as “Halder D. (2012), The black spot: I say NO, 30thDecember,2012, published in http://debaraticyberspace.blogspot.com/