Thursday, January 17, 2013

[Asian Series on Gender Justice] Notes from Taiwan: Beyond the Sorrow, There is Hope for Change

[Editors' Note: This article by Hana Hsin-Wei Cheng is the first article of the "Asian Series on Gender Justice" an initiative - by Delhi University team of New Socialist Initiative (NSI) - to bring together significant moments from the recent histories of struggle for gender equality and justice in various Asian countries.]

- Hana Hsin-Wei Cheng

The brutal Delhi gang-rape case of a 23-year-old paramedical student has evoked pervasive anger, criticism and condemnation across India. Massive public protests have taken place not only in Delhi but all over the country, demanding justice for the victim as well as better security for women. Like in any other country, violence against women – rape, sexual assault/harassment, molestation, etc. – is not a new thing in India. Yet this is perhaps the very first time that India has witnessed such large-scale protests in wake of a rape case. It is also the first time that apart from activists and organizations that have been working on gender issues, such staggering numbers of people – most of them students and youths – have chosen to stand up and raise their voices over sexual violence against women. 

Strong public pressure has also forced the Government of India to respond, although the responses are not enough. Fast track courts have been inaugurated to try cases of sexual offence meted out against women. A special task force has been set up under the Ministry of Home Affairs to monitor women’s safety in the national capital, while two other committees have been appointed to look into the incidents of rape and suggest adequate amendments to existing laws on violence against women. Now there is a widely shared hope that this particular Delhi incident could be a turning point for women’s rights in India, leading to legal/institutional reform on related issues and ultimately contributing towards comprehensive social change. 

Taiwan had gone through similar experience about 15 years ago. In 1996, the rape and murder of a prominent feminist activist sparked widespread public outrage in Taiwan, and later brought about significant changes contributing towards the progress in women’s rights. 

The Murder of Peng Wan-Ru: From A Heartbreaking Loss to An Inspiration for Change 

Towards the end of 1996, Mrs. Peng Wan-Ru, a long-time activist, then the Director of the Women’s affair of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), who spent her whole live fighting for better future for women in Taiwan, was reported missing in Kaohsiung. She was last seen getting on a taxi the night before DPP’s national convention which she was supposed to attend, in the convention her proposal of 25% reservation for women was scheduled to be discussed. Three days later, she was found barbarically raped and murdered outside an abandoned warehouse, with more than 30 stab wounds on her body. 

15 years have passed, and her murderer still remains at large.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In Corporal Punishment We Are All Complicit

- Yogender Dutt

In the context of the cruel thrashing and consequent death of a small boy, Aslam Ansari, in a Betul school in Madhya Pradesh at the hands of his teachers, Prof. Krishna Kumar’s analysis (The Hindu, editorial page, “The death of a small boy,” December 18, 2012), of the unsettled social location and poor hierarchical status of primary school teachers, is impeccable and succinct. But, I fail to understand the precise and immediate link between the merciless beating and consequent death of the hapless boy on the one hand and the poor training and salaries of the teachers who allegedly killed him on the other. The kind of cause-and-effect relationship that he has tried to establish in this incident certainly does not exist.

Photo Source: The Hindu

It is unequivocally clear to every citizen of the country that under the legal framework in place, no individual can cause bodily harm to any other individual. If we still persist with such an argument, we run the risk of shifting the culpability of the individuals involved in the crimes, often of a very serious nature, off their heads simply because the accused are primary school teachers who have not been given proper training and are ill-paid.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Schools of Discrimination

- Subhash Gatade

The village of Majure, in Chitradurga district, Karnataka, is once again in the news. It made the national headlines in 1998 when dalits in the village lodged a police complaint against members of the dominant Vokkaliga and Lingayat castes for an attack on their hamlet. As a consequence, several people were put behind bars.

This time round, however, no formal complaint was lodged. Not that things have improved (rather, one could say the situation is deteriorating) but, as the dalits put it, they want to live in “harmony” in the village. For around two months, they’ve been facing a social boycott. The immediate provocation would appear to be the appointment of Lakshmamma, a member of the Madiga community, as cook in the anganwadi. Upper-caste politicians from the village did not want a dalit woman to cook food and feed their children and they succeeded in getting her to resign from the post. Despite a dalit in the Shettar cabinet contacting them, there has been no response. Interestingly, there are three dalit officers -- a deputy commissioner, a superintendent of police and a tehsildar -- in the district.

Dalit children continue to be discriminated against during the midday meal at school
A recent report published in a section of the media highlighted rampant caste and gender discrimination in schools across India. The report, carried out by 41 independent monitoring institutes, which was submitted to the Union Human Resources Development Ministry, covered 186 schools serving midday meals across five states, namely Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat. It was conducted between October 2010 and September 2012, and underlines how children from the scheduled castes face routine segregation from other children and are made to sit and eat separately. Children belonging to upper-caste Hindu families often refused food cooked by SC/ST cooks. The researchers also came across cases where dalit students were getting food but from a distance; in some instances, high-caste children brought their own plates for fear of school plates having been touched by dalit classmates.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Delhi Outrage Inspires Protest in Indonesia

(Photograph courtesy: Pipit Apriani who is a Jakarta based activist and a blogger)

Protests against sexual violence are spreading across Asia. Last week demonstrations against rape and sexual violence were held in Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Inspired by the protests held in Delhi for last three weeks, hundreds of university students and activists march on the streets of Jakarta few hundred meters away from the Presidential Palace for a world free of sexual violence. The call for the protest march was given by a coalition of University Students' Unions and civil society organizations in response to the death of RI, a 11-year-old girl, who died last week after suffering severe vaginal and rectal injuries due to repeated sexual assaults.

The protesters demanded from the Government and the House of Representatives to guarantee legal protection of children and women from sexual violence through enhancing the minimum punishment of perpetrators of sexual violence to 20 years. Under current Indonesian law cases of sexual assault against women are categorized as "social misconduct" and in case of children it is classified as "abuse", both of which attracts imprisonment between a minimum of 2 years and 8 months and a maximum of 12 years. Moreover, a statement issued by the coalition said that other than suitable legal protection, the government must also create a comprehensive system of support for the victims of sexual violence.

The protesters also demanded from the Chief of Police of Indonesia to put his house in order to end the apathy of the police force towards cases of sexual violence.

Condolence was also offered to the victim of the Delhi gangrape case who died in a Singapore hospital.

The coalition has declared 2013 as a year of national emergency regarding sexual crimes and urged all sections of the country to join the fight against sexual violence on women and children. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Remembering Laxmi Orang: The Predicament of the Gender Question in Assam

- Mayur Chetia and Bonojit Hussain 

The Delhi gangrape case has led to country-wide outrage, with young women and men still pouring out on to the streets to protest against the widespread culture of sexual violence. The outrage has not just stopped at Jantar Mantar, India Gate or university campuses; it has also led to a wave of intellectual reflection on the issue. For most protesters the demand for justice has not stopped with the Delhi gang rape victim, but has led to a demand for justice for all victims of sexual violence. These protesters have forced us to remember a litany of names that get buried by the TRP driven media and a public with a notoriously short attention span of memory. It is time to remember names that we are losing to public amnesia, names like Soni Sori, Manorama, Asiya and Neelofar. It is time we remember another forgotten name – Laxmi Orang. 
A local businessman in action 
In the Interest of Remembering: Who is Laxmi Orang? 

On 24th November 2007, Laxmi Orang, a young adivasi woman, was forcibly stripped naked, thrashed and paraded by a violent mob of “mainstream” Assamese [1] men. This took place just 100 meters away from State Legislative assembly, in the very heart of Guwahati, in the full glare of the media and police forces. As with her fellow protesters, it was her first trip to the city, the mythical land where the modern day Swargodeo’s [2] listen to their subjects, where appeals are heard, where miracles happen, where riches and wonders thrive. She had come to the city as participant of a protest organized by the All Adivasi Students’ Association Assam (AASAA) to demand Schedule Tribes status for the Adivasi community of Assam. 
[CNN-IBN report on the horrific incident]

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ताकि अलख जलती रहे !

- अंजलि सिन्हा

नए साल के इन्तज़ार में बीते साल की रात इस बार अलग ढंग से बीती। राजधानी में कई जगहों पर लोग एकत्रित होकर नए साल का स्वागत मानो इस संकल्प के साथ कर रहे थे कि अब और अत्याचार नहीं। यह अच्छी बात है कि एक आम लड़की ने सभी को सोचने के लिए और अपनी प्रतिबद्धता जताने के लिए प्रेरित किया है। वह लड़की जिसे लोगों ने ‘निर्भया’, ‘दामिनी’, ‘अमानत’, ‘ज्योति’ ऐसे कई नामों से पुकारा - उसकी जीने की जीजीविषा सुस्त पड़ी तरूणाई को अन्दर तक झकझोर गयी।

किसी राजनेता ने ठीक ही कहा है कि यह आज़ाद भारत के इतिहास में पहली दफा था कि महिलाओं के साथ अत्याचार के मसले पर इतनी बड़ी तादाद में युवा उतरे। इतनाही नहीं सरकार को भी इस मामले में कदम उठाने के लिए मजबूर होना पड़ा और न केवल कानून में जरूरी सुधार लाने की बात करनी पड़ी बल्कि न्यायप्रणाली को अधिक चुस्त करने, फास्ट ट्रैक अदालतें स्थापित करने जैसे पहले किए गए निर्णयों को अमली जामा पहनाने की बात करनी पड़ी। निश्चित ही यह अभी परखा जाना है कि इस जनाक्रोश के दबाव में सरकार ने जो वादे महिलाओं की सुरक्षा को लेकर किए हैं, वह कितने लागू होंगे। 

अभी तक की सरकारी लापरवाही और गैरजिम्मेदारी का उन्हें एहसास कराना तथा त्वरित कार्रवाई के लिए बाध्य किया जाना जनता की जिम्मेदारी है तो दूसरी तरफ हर इन्सान, हर परिवार और पूरे समाज को यह जवाब देना है कि ऐसे पुरूषों की ऐसी मानसिकता बनी क्यों है ? वे अपने पूरे होशो हवास में जानबूझकर वहशी व्यवहार करते हैं, उनके लिए तो जो कुछ बोला जाए वह कम है। लेकिन हम यहभी पाते हैं कि अपराधी सिर्फ वही नहीं है। जिन्होंने इस हद तक उतर कर घृणित अपराध नहीं किया उनमें भी औरत के प्रति सम्मानजनक नज़रिया विकसित नहीं हुआ है और वे सभी मिल कर भी स्त्रीद्रोही वातावरण तैयार करते हैं जिसमें बड़े अपराधों को अंजाम देने की हिम्मत अपराधी जुटा लेते हैं। हमारे समाज में छींटाकशीं, भद्दे मज़ाक, अश्लील व्यवहार आदि की गिनती नहीं की जा सकती है। यहां तक कि हमारी दैनंदिन संस्कृति में या त्यौहारों-उत्सवों में प्रगट या प्रच्छन्न रूप में नारीविरोध, नारीअपमान इतने गहरे में रचा बसा होता है कि वह सामान्यबोध का हिस्सा बन जाता है। 

जिन्दगी और मौत के बीच 13 दिन जूझती रही उस निर्दोष लड़की ने - जो हममें से एक थी, और अपने कैरिअर को लेकर भी उसके अपने विचार थे - इस बीच हमें और भी बहुत कुछ एहसास कराया है। एक दूसरे से अनजान अपरिचित लोग इस अन्याय के खिलाफ एकजुट हुए हैं। बड़े बड़े प्रदर्शनों के साथ ही जिसमें हर उम्र के लोग शामिल हुए, महिलाओं के साथ साथ पुरूषों की भी बड़ी संख्या सड़कों पर उतरी वही गली मुहल्लों में भी यह आवाज़ पहुंची, वहां पर भी जुलूस निकले। यहां तक कि पांच-दस छात्र- छात्राओं के समूह भी जुलूस की शक्ल में न्याय की मांग करते हुए सड़कों पर देखे गए।

निश्चित ही बढ़ता असुरक्षित वातावरण अब सभी के सरोकार का मुद्दा बन गया है। लगातार विरोध प्रदर्शनों में भागते भागते थक कर चूर हो चुके युवाओं का हौंसला देख कर यही लगा कि अब बहुत कुछ अच्छा भी होनेवाला है, वे अपने हकों के प्रति जागरूक हैं और अमन तथा इन्साफ की दुनिया बनाने में उनकी अच्छी भूमिका बनेगी। यह पूरा जनप्रतिरोध अपने परिवेश को लेकर एक तार्किक और जवाबदेह नज़रिया विकसित करने में मदद करेगा।

सड़क से लेकर सत्ता के गलियारों तक पहुंची इस सरगर्मी के दौरान कुछ लोग यह कहते भी पाए गए कि धीरे-धीरे यह आन्दोलन और जनाक्रोश भी थम जाएगा। दरअसल थमता तो हर आन्दोलन है लेकिन उनमें से सभी रूकता नहीं है वह दूसरे रूप में जारी रहता है। दूसरी बात हर उभार समाज पर अपना असर भी छोड़ता है। 70 के दशक के उत्तरार्द्ध में जब मथुरा बलात्कार काण्ड के खिलाफ महिलाओं का व्यापक आन्दोलन खड़ा हुआ, यौन अत्याचार के लिए स्त्रियों के ‘चऱित्र’ पर ही लांछन लगाने के सिलसिले पर प्रश्न उठे, तो उसने महिलाओं के लिए जगह भी बनायी। याद रहे कि आदिवासी युवती मथुरा के साथ पुलिस कस्टडी में हुए अत्याचार को लेकर सर्वोच्च न्यायालय ने विवादास्पद टिप्पणी की थी और अत्याचारी पुलिसकर्मियों को इस आधार पर छोड़ दिया था कि मथुरा ‘संदिग्ध चरित्र’ की युवती थी। इसी फैसले का विरोध करते हुए कुछ न्यायविदों एवं महिला अधिकार कार्यकर्ताओं ने सुप्रीम कोर्ट के नाम खुला खत लिखा था। यहीं से एक तरह से आन्दोलन की नींव पड़ी थी।

ऐसा नहीं कह सकते कि बलात्कार कानूनों में जरूरी संशोधन के लिए प्रेरित करनेवाले इस आन्दोलन के तीन दशक बाद आज भी पुलिसिया व्यवहार या न्यायपालिका की बहसों में स्त्रियों के चरित्र को प्रश्नांकित करने की कोशिश नहीं होती, मगर अब ऐसा होने पर विरोध भी उतना ही होता है। अब कोई राजनेता या अधिकारी स्त्री के विरोध में बयानबाजी करने के पहले दस बार सोचता है और अगर अपने पुरूष प्रधान चिन्तन के अन्तर्गत बयान देता भी है तो अच्छी भली भद्द पिटती है उसकी। अभी हमारे सामने ही राष्ट्रपति के बेटे अपने नारी विरोधी बयान को लेकर तीखी आलोचना का शिकार हुए तथा उन्हें माफी मांगनी पड़ी और लड़कियों को स्कर्ट पहनने से मना करनेवाले भाजपा विधायक को लड़कियों के घेराव का सामना करना पड़ा।

यह भी विचारणीय है कि जब कोई किसी अन्याय के खिलाफ उठ खड़ा होता है तो बाद में उसे अन्य दूसरे अन्याय भी दिखने लगते हैं और इस रूप में समाज को आगे ले जानेवाली ताकतें आपस में नयी मजबूती ग्रहण करती जाती हैं। समाज की अग्रगति उन निराशावादियों से तय नहीं होती जिन्हें हर प्रयास में खोट नज़र आती है।

Photo: Tara Basumatary

Spectre of Left Haunting Raisina Hills

- Apoorva Gautam

Adding a few decibels to the cacophony of bizarre public statements in this country, officials from the Intelligence Bureau have alleged that ‘ultra-Left’ organisations, from Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University are fueling violence in the protests in Delhi against the gang-rape and murder of the 23-years old paramedical student. They are “exploiting the existing fault-lines". This, the officials believe, is the strategy on part of the 'ultra-left' groups to tap into the urban unrest in order to expand their base outside of university campuses. A few days back, the Home Minister revealed his anxieties about having to meet Maoists if he went out to listen to the protesters in India Gate

Interestingly, in the same breath, these officials put these Left organisations in the same category as right-wing groups with intriguing names like Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena and Hindu Sena. 
India Today report, 6th January, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013

Some Thoughts on Rape, Sexual Violence and Protest: Responding to Responses

- Devika Narayan

Rarely does a city experience the sort of upheaval that Delhi is witnessing. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone has an opinion. It is impossible to walk down the street without overhearing snatches of conversation. Issues that usually find brief mention in some obscure corner of the newspaper are now being subject to analysis by every passer-by. A rickshaw driver refuses to take any money when he realises I am on my way to a protest. I remember the old man at a photocopy shop who had looked up and asked to no one in particular: do you think she will die? The receptionist at the doctor’s clinic is distraught, providing waiting patients her explanation for the recent events. Men huddled around tiny fires littered across the foggy city carp on about the state of politics, the police and the government. Everyone is invested in this moment of reckoning. 

An opportunity, in the most brutal manner, has been thrust upon us to challenge, critique and reconstruct unjust social relations. This is an opportunity to pledge our commitment to a vision of a gender just society. Unless we assert in powerful ways that women are autonomous beings and equal citizens it will not end. Unless this moment is taken seriously, unless it is used to interrogate normative structures which insist that women are things to be owned, exchanged and damaged either by the individual, community, state or family the violence will not end. And yet at the same time these incidents also offer themselves as an opportunity for the proprietors of Indian Culture to reclaim their ownership of women. These Ambassadors of Tradition declare that it is precisely because women attempt to assert their independent will by walking the streets alone, by choosing their companions, by dressing differently, that they invite violence. Their agenda is to herd women back into the home and purify Indian Society of dangerous ‘external influences’ that might give women the absurd notion that they possess an autonomous agency. However this time given that the raped and murdered woman was not emerging from a pub, alone, or found trespassing the night at an ungodly hour, these voices have been relatively muted. Finally the commander-in-chief of the Embrace-Ancient-Indian-Culture-or-Be-Raped club has spoken up. Mohan Bhagwat the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) recently said: 

"A husband and wife are involved in a contract under which the husband has said that you should take care of my house and I will take care of all your needs. I will keep you safe. So, the husband follows the contract terms. Till the time, the wife follows the contract, the husband stays with her, if the wife violates the contract, he can disown her. Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. But such crimes won't happen in Bharat or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gangrape or sex crimes. Besides new legislations, Indian ethos and attitude towards women should be revisited in the context of ancient Indian values. Where Bharat becomes 'India' with the influence of western culture, these types of incidents happen.” 

[Mohan Bhagwat speaking in Silchar, Assam]

यौनिक हिंसा के परे, मर्दानगी के घेरे।

- प्रवीन वर्मा 

सन्दर्भ एक: 
एक दोस्त जो सोमवार को इंडिया गेट पर विरोध प्रदर्शन का हिस्सा होने आ रही थी, को मोटरसाइकिल सवार युवकों ने घूरा (या फिर मर्दों की भाषा में 'देख ही तो रहे हैं की माफ़िक) और आगे बढ गए, इस कृत्य ने इस महिला मित्र को थोडा असहज कर दिया, बहरहाल यह मोटरसाइकिल सवार आगे बढ कर एक आइसक्रीम वाले से इंडिया गेट का रास्ता पूछते हैं, पूछने पर वे उससे बताते है की वह 16 तारीख को हुए गैंगरेप के विरोध प्रदर्शन के लिए जा रहे हैं 

सन्दर्भ दो:
जंतर मंतर पर बहसा- बहसी में एक युवक ने अपनी जांघों की तरफ़ इशारा करके कहा कि इतने छोटे- छोटे कपड़े पहनोगी तो ऐसा ही होगा (उसका इशारा 16 तारीख के बर्बर काण्ड की तरफ था !), इस पर वह महिला भड़क गई, लेकिन वो आदमी कुछ सुनने को ही तैयार नहीं था! जब महिला ने उसकी माँ, बहन का उदहारण दिया तो वह गुस्सा हो गया और गाली- ग़लोच करने लगा! आस-पास खड़े लोग देखते रहे, किसी तरह बीच-बचाव किया गया और उस आदमी को वहा से हटाया गया! 

सन्दर्भ तीन: 
जंतर मंतर पर काफी जमावडे थे, कोई फाँसी- फाँसी चिल्ला रहा था, कोई दोषियों को नपुंसक बनाने की बात कर रहा था, कोई उनके टुकड़े-टुकड़े करने, सरे-आम गोली मारने, सऊदी अरब भेजने की बात कर रहा था, एक तबका ऐसा भी था जो पुरजोर तरीके से कह रहा था कि फाँसी कोई हल नहीं, बलात्कार की इस घटना को पुरुषवादी समाज के बड़े दायरे में देखने की ज़रूरत हैं! कह रहे थे कि सिर्फ 'दामिनी' ही मुद्दा नहीं है; एक लाख से ज्यादा केसेस सड़ रहे है न्याय की आस में और जहा तक न्यायालय तक पहुचने का सवाल है उसका अनुपात हैं 100 में से महज़ 26! खैर कुछ महिला संगठन यहाँ अपनी बात रखने, नारे लगाने साथ देने आये थे, इनमें से कुछ ने जब नारा लगाना चाहा तो आम आदमी पार्टी के एक स्वयंभू वरिष्ठ (घायल) नेता ने उन्हें ऐसा करने से रोका और साथ ही साथ अपने समर्थको को इन नारों में साथ देने को मना किया, इस स्वयम्भू नेता ने कहा कि, आप नारे मत लगाइए, सिर्फ गाना गाइये! 

सन्दर्भ चार: 
कुछ महिलाएं जंतर मंतर पर पोस्टर लेकर घूम रही थी, जिस पर लिखा था "रेप इस नोट कूल, इन नीड प्लीज कॉल 100 और 1091"! आदमियों की एक भीड़ 2-3 महिलाओ को घेर उन पर टूट पड़ीं, कि तुम पुलिस की/ शीला दीक्षित की/ कांग्रेस की दलाल हो! महिलाओ ने पूछा क्यों? सभी मर्दों ने एक आवाज़ में कहा क्योकि तुम्हारे पोस्टर पर पुलिस से मदद मांगना लिखा हैं, तुम इसे यहाँ (जंतर मंतर) पर इस्तेमाल नहीं कर सकती!! पुलिस को इन सबसे दूर रखो! देखते ही देखते जो-जो लोग ये पोस्टर लिए दिखे उन-उन से छीन- छीन कर फाड़े गए और फिर जलाये गए! जंतर मंतर पर लोग तरह-तरह के पोस्टर लिए घूम रहे थे और ऐसा ज़रूरी नहीं था सब एक- दूसरे से सहमत हो, फिर इन महिलाओं से ऐसा बर्ताव क्यों? जिस आक्रामक प्रचंडता के साथ ये मर्द बर्ताव कर रहे थे वह महिलाओं के हितों में तो कतई नहीं था! इसी गहमा-गहमी तनाव घुलने लगा जब ये सभी मर्द एकजुटता से 'भारत माता की जय' के नारे लगाने लगे और महिलाओं को विरोध स्थल से खदेड़ने लगे! इस बीच पुलिस आई और चली गयी! 

इस बीच किसी ने कहा कि, "मैडम अगर लेडीज ही ऐसा कहेंगी तो बाकि का क्या होगा?" एक दूसरे मर्द ने पुछा कि क्या हुआ? तो पहले वाले ने जवाब दिया, "कि ये औरतें कह रही है कि रेप हो रहा हो तो पुलिस को बुला लो, दोनों हँसे और दूसरी तरफ मुड़कर भारत माता की जय के नारे लगाने लगे!

Photo: Reuters

Sunday, January 6, 2013

आखिर कब तक : स्त्रियों पर बढ़ता यौन उत्पीड़न और घटता न्याय


देश की राजधानी की बस में तेईस साल की युवती के साथ हुए सामूहिक बलात्कार के खिलाफ उठे आन्दोलन की प्रतिक्रिया हर तरफ देखी गयी है। इस युवती के हक में और साथ साथ ही बलात्कार के तमाम मामलों में पीड़िताओं को जल्द से जल्द इन्साफ दिलाने के लिए देश के तमाम हिस्सों में भी प्रदर्शन हुए हैं। यह सरगर्मी गली मुहल्ले में भी देखी गयी है जहां लोग लड़कियों-स्त्रियों की स्थायी सुरक्षा के मुद्दे पर स्थायी समाधान किस तरह निकले इसे लेकर चिन्तित दिखे हैं। 

अक्सर बलात्कार की घटना के बाद पीड़िता को ही दोषी ठहराने की जिस रीति का बोलबाला हमारे समाज में है, उसके विपरीत इस बार यह एक सकारात्मक बात दिखी है कि लोग खुद कह रहे हैं कि सुरक्षा के लिए हम अपनी लड़कियों को घर में कैद नहीं कर सकते, न ही हर सार्वजनिक स्थल पर या लड़की जहां जाए वहां परिवारवालों की निगरानी में रख सकते हैं। आखिर लड़की होने का खामियाजा वे कब तक भुगतती रहेंगी, इसलिए सुरक्षित समाज तो उन्हें चाहिए ही।

दूसरी तरफ, बलात्कार के मामलों में पुलिसिया जांच में बरती जानेवाली सुस्ती, मुकदमों के बोझ के नाम पर ऐसे मामलों में देरी से होने वाले फैसले, आदि सभी मामलों को लेकर लोगों का आक्रोश दिखाई दिया है। जानकारों के मुताबिक इन विरोध प्रदर्शनों ने मथुरा बलात्कार काण्ड के खिलाफ हुए देशव्यापी आन्दोलन की याद ताजा की है। (1978) मालूम हो कि मथुरा नामक आदिवासी युवती के साथ पुलिस कस्टडी में हुए बलात्कार को लेकर सर्वोच्च न्यायालय का जो अपमानजनक फैसला आया था, उसका जबरदस्त विरोध हुआ था और सरकार को बलात्कार सम्बन्धी कानून में बदलाव करने पड़े थे।

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Come Frolic with Me in the Streets of Delhi

- Amrapali  Basumatary (Tara)

It was 31st December 2012, city-Delhi, the same Delhi which has gained the infamy of being the Rape-Capital of a country called India, a nation whose ‘dignity’ has been maligned by the increasing cases of sexual assault on women. Around three hours before the clock struck the decisive moment of New Year, many of us gathered at the PVR Anupam complex in Saket to “take back the night”, back from the shackles of misogyny, sexual assault, patriarchy and above all from the banal and real fear of being subjected to crimes meted out by multifarious forms of male-supremacy and power. It was a night when ‘dented and painted’ females as well as males were showing that ‘denting and painting’ are not reasons that ‘invite’ rape or sexual assault and those ‘hormone driven gazes’. 

When we first gathered, the numbers were not so great and most of them were familiar faces. While it was heart warming to see so many familiar faces, yet one part of me did not fail to notice that the numbers of new faces was not so many. Not seeing new faces sometimes hurts because one can possibly feel a sense of pessimism that our struggles have not permeated deep and wide, despite incessant protests and rallies for more than half a month now, despite so many decades of movements for women’s rights and gender-just world. After all the core of such movements lie in the fact that the struggle for gender-just society must reach out to the whole of the society, at least the majority of the society, that we make new friends while walking along with old friends, that it is not a struggle of a few for a few privileges. Also I had the personal desire, or you may call it my hope or expectation that it will be one of the nights that would be remembered by many, of a 31st December night when we partied in the streets of Delhi, a night when we did the unthinkable, when we danced and sang songs of love and protest, of freedom and equality, at the same time when crowds were gathered in front of the Birstol Hotel in Gurgaon awaiting Yo Yo Honey Singh, the epitome of this society’s tendentious agreement and complicity to uphold and celebrate sex as an act of violence, of disempowering the other, of taking away people’s dignity and right to live free of fear and violations. I initially felt a little disheartened to see how we, the protesters, were refraining from expressing our will and desire to sing and dance, this was supposed to be taking back the night our own way, with creating spaces for revelry, a new way of celebrating the new year. There was desire and expectation in the air, held back only by our sustained and long lived culture of propriety, of being ‘respectable’ in the streets, by a continuum of absence of street culture. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Run with Gender, Hunt with Class:Curious Ways of Indian Democracy from India Gate to the Slum Habitat

- Prachee Sinha

It has taken a horrific tragedy and a precious young life to stir the conscience of a nation. Or so one would like to believe! Reality may not still cater to our wishes. Our grand old civilization is also a culture of billion brutalities on its women and countless other victims. One can only hope that it changes for the better, even if a little, after what it has witnessed through the last fifteen days of the last year. Greater probability, however, is for such hopes to be belied yet again. It may take a lot more to lift the weight of an age-old way of life. After all, one would not have expected that rapes and molestations would be reported from across the country, and even from Delhi itself, right in the middle of anger, sorrow and protests that seemed to engulf the country. One would expect that the rapists and the criminals would lie low for a while till the situation returns to normal. Least of all would have one expected that women would be harassed, and one or two would even be molested, during those very protests that were taking place at the India Gate and Jantar Mantar.

The battered body of the nameless and faceless brave heart has now been consigned to flames and returned to earth. From the little that we know about her ordeal in the bus, she fought the goons, without any fear that it could invite the brutalisation she was subjected to, when they first attacked her friend. She remained undefeated in her spirits even as her organs failed. Likes of the person, who reportedly expressed the opinion that she should have submitted to rape to be spared the brutalisation, shall never understand the meaning and the value of courage and dignity.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Protest Diary: 29th December, 2012, Jantar Mantar

- Vasundhara Jairath

While the day began with a deep sense of distress at the news of the death of the young 23-year-old who had been brutally assaulted and gang-raped in a moving private bus running illegally on that route, each of us tried to channel our energies so as to bolster, and not demoralize, the struggle for gender justice. I do not believe she was a martyr as some have claimed. A martyr is one who gives her life for a cause. And she wanted to live. Given the brutality of the assault and related trauma, she fought hard for 12 long days. She is not a martyr. She was murdered to death. I do believe she wanted to live, and began to believe she will live. And then came the news of her death. While many have derided this explosion of Delhi’s citizenry on the streets as a middle class reaction or right wing, Narendra Modi supporters making fascist demands for denying any process of law and demanding execution, this was much more. It was an accumulated rage of the rape culture in the city. Apolitical individuals coming out in the streets for the first time did express their rage in demands for death penalty. But what was important to recognize was the rage. What was important to engage with, therefore, was the rage. And engage we did. And while we at least temporarily ‘converted’ some, we fought with others.

That afternoon we joined a silent march from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar as part of a joint call from women’s organizations. On arriving at Jantar Mantar, the left remained divided into two groups. The rally moved to one corner while another group had already occupied the centre of Jantar Mantar since morning. One on this side of the barricade and one on the other. While some of us made a small attempt at building a human chain between the two gheras (circles), a laughable attempt for some, a few of us moved to the centre of Jantar Mantar at the site of one ghera. While Left unity would have served as a powerful voice in demanding broader and substantive gender justice, focusing on the entire gamut of patriarchal norms and structures in society rather than just sticking to this case alone (as many demanding death penalty were doing), this was lost and divided in the fragmented demonstration.