Daily Archives: April 10, 2017

Aam Aadmi Party MLA Rakhi Birla’s father booked on rape charges | The Indian Express

BY: PTI | NEW DELHI |

Published On: November 8, 2016 9:39 Pm

Aam Aadmi Party MLA Rakhi Birla’s father and a local party leader has been booked for allegedly raping a 24-year-old married woman on the pretext of giving her a ticket for the MCD elections, police said on Tuesday. The party however termed the allegations as “baseless”. A case has been registered against the AAP leader Ram Pratap Goyal and Bhupender, father of Delhi Assembly Deputy Speaker Rakhi Birla, under IPC section 376 D (gangrape) and 506 (criminal intimidation), they said. According to the complainant, Goyal and Bhupender established physical relation with her, on the promise of giving her a party ticket for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, said a senior police officer. The complainant told police that she met Goyal at Sector 3, Rohini in north-west Delhi and they exchanged numbers. They remained in touch for nearly 4-5 months and was promised a party ticket for the MCD elections.

She said in her complaint that o0ne day Goyal called her near his office to discuss regarding the ticket. He then took her to a vacant flat of his friend and established physical relation with her.As per the woman, she was “exploited” by the accused at various places, including hotels and her own house and when she asked the leader about the ticket, he coaxed her to have intercourse with Bhupender. She in her complaint also mentions that she was forced to sleep with Bhupender at her house and at a hotel in Connaught Place on November 5,adding that the accused made a MMS of the crime and threatened to ruin her life. Police said that the accused also pestered the woman to establish physical relations with other men in order to get the party ticket.

Meanwhile, AAP Delhi convener Dilip Pandey said the allegation had no substance and was another attempt by BJP to tarnish AAP’s image. “Ram Pratap Goyal holds the post of block treasurer in Rohini. He is a respected leader. Neither, he nor Bhupender, remembers meeting the complainant at any point of time,” he said. Both the accused were unavailable for questioning and efforts are on to reach them, said the police officer.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/aam-aadmi-party-mla-rakhi-birlas-father-booked-on-rape-charges-4364703/

Flavia Agnes is indirectly accepting that women are misusing laws !! But can’t say that openly !!

Years of battling for women’s rights have left Flavia Agnes embittered, but she’s still looking for ways forward
The pile-up of cases in the Bombay High Court opposing first information reports on rape, and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, according to Flavia Agnes, co-founder of Majlis, a forum for women’s rights discourse and legal initiatives, have something in common: women oppressed by the system don’t come forward to file cases, while those who do are often not the real victims.

In popular perception, then, it’s women misusing the law, and for many, it’s about women being scared to move court, the law not working as it was intended to. “We’re constantly struggling with this dichotomy in every field of women’s rights,” she says.

The pile-up of cases in the Bombay High Court opposing first information reports on rape, and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, according to Flavia Agnes, co-founder of Majlis, a forum for women’s rights discourse and legal initiatives, have something in common: women oppressed by the system don’t come forward to file cases, while those who do are often not the real victims.

In popular perception, then, it’s women misusing the law, and for many, it’s about women being scared to move court, the law not working as it was intended to. “We’re constantly struggling with this dichotomy in every field of women’s rights,” she says.

Use and misuse of law

Majlis Legal Centre has won The Martha Farrell Awards under the ‘Best Organisation for Gender Equality’ category. The centre provides legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and conducts legal awareness training. Reflecting on Majlis’s work and her own journey so far, Ms. Agnes says that the political environment is not divorced from women’s rights. She’s also weary of the shrillness of public discourse, the polarisation of viewpoints. “God knows what I’m saying, what you will write,” she says during the conversation, in a moment of despair. “After so many years, I’m questioning what we have done.”

There are stringent laws protecting women, Ms. Agnes says, but without an enabling environment, how are they expected to use them?

For instance, everyone needs a lawyer. But in the family court, for a simple mutual-consent divorce — “Just a three-page application, where both the parties agree” — a lawyer would charge ₹1 lakh. Next, when people do find a lawyer, there’s no saying how long the case will be in court. There is Legal Aid, but “It is dysfunctional, at least in Mumbai. [Judges and lawyers] do not know the law, they do not know the legal strategy, the new law that has come in. So when you see an acquittal, it’s because even the judges don’t know the law.”

And then she says, sardonically, “The women’s movement has done a great service to the lawyers’ community. Because they asked for new laws, and every law is beneficial to lawyers.” Women, she says, are “allowed to misuse the law” because it is “advantageous to the police and the lawyers.”

Majlis’ work, she says, is not even a drop in the ocean. NGOs typically don’t handle litigation; they themselves are afraid to go to court. Instead, “The buzzword is counselling. Because you sit pretty, call the husband and wife, counsel and send them back. And you think it’s a success story. Then why ask for a law on domestic violence and say it will help them go to court?”

It isn’t just fear of the legal process; there are also benefits for NGOs to not going to court. “As soon as the law comes, training of so-and-so begins. On topics like gender sensitisation. We’re not teaching them what to do with the law, what it mandates them to do and how it makes them accountable. That’s why we get stuck, why we’re tearing our hair, why laws are not working, why women are not using the law.”

Making the law work

How can the law work for everyone? “There has to be a helping system. A woman who is a victim needs the confidence that the people around her will help her. This is the way you go, and this system will not oppress you again.”

That’s how it is elsewhere in the world, she says. Singapore’s family court has booklets, easily accessible forms. In the UK, if a woman is thrown out, there is a half-way home, she gets legal advice, all as part of state service. Judges pass custody and maintenance orders quickly, too, and ensure orders are enforced.

What is the change she would like to see? “I don’t want everybody to be a lawyer. I want everybody to understand the law.”

In the 1980s and 90s, Ms Agnes says, the media only focussed on dowry deaths.

After that, attention shifted to domestic violence. Then, it was all about rape. And now, “everywhere you read, there is only one issue for women in India today: triple talaq.” “And we as Hindu women, as Parliament, as NGOs,” she says, sarcasm dripping, “will join together and rescue these Muslim women from their oppressive religious or community leadership.”

Sadly, she says, no one is using the options already available, or talking about failings in other communities. “What you need is awareness, legal support.” Ms. Agnes has gone on record to say it is better to reform personal laws and ensure that laws of all communities are gender-just rather than enacting a uniform law.

On talaq, she says, “Each of these women who have gone to the SC are victims of domestic violence.” So while none of the women challenging triple talaqwant to go back to their husbands, they don’t want to initiate divorce proceedings either. “I am so tired of shouting hoarse. Because everybody’s entered this bandwagon. Because everybody wants their piece of publicity.”

“Everybody — right wing, women’s groups, Muslim women — is in it together, and no one wants to step back and examine the real issues. That’s when it becomes a low-hanging fruit for everybody to write about.”

Political space is constrained today, she says. “I can talk about women’s rights but not about secularism. That’s the sad part. Nobody wants to go into the nuances and shades.”

Women’s issues and secularism are linked, she thinks, and it’s all about how we can make progress from there. “What we’re doing is not devoid of politics. Everything from dowry to domestic violence is linked to certain value systems. But we’re just into rhetoric.”

This is where she feels, all the work that her organisation has done in the Mumbai and Gujarat riots may have come to nought. “Somewhere, I feel, did I go wrong, should I have done something different? Where are we in the end?”

Majlis’s milestones

The bright spots for her are Majlis’s work with grassroots NGOs helping women understand the law, and its courses in Mumbai colleges on women and social work, women and law.

She says she has also seen judges’ attitudes shift. “There are problems at the trial court, but problems in the higher courts are more serious. We can’t do anything there; they’re supposed to know everything.”

At the trial court level, “while there are black sheep and insensitive judges, you can see some positive change.” Majlis conducts training for judges and magistrates in Maharashtra..

Majlis compiles “positive judgements” in areas like domestic violence and gives them to the judges. “We’re aiming to achieve deep-level change.”

It also does targeted training for the police. For instance, how to record an FIR in child abuse cases, by demonstrating what a badly-recorded one is, and how it can ruin chances of conviction.

The way ahead

Majlis hopes to soon run courses for mediapersons too, “so that there’s a multiplier effect.”

It also plans to re-start a programme it ran from 2003-2011, wherein women taking up other women’s cases were supported with stipends and training.

Supporting campaign groups is not enough. “We need people on the ground; grassroot activists. The whole challenge is to make them feminists, make them understand. Only then can we move forward.”

Majlis itself has grown a lot, she says. “Earlier, we used to only criticise the judiciary and government but now we see where change is possible and work very closely with them.”

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/the-weary-warrior/article17895625.ece

Muzaffarnagar Family Court Judge Sets Guinness World Record By Deciding Over 6,000 Cases !!!

A Principal Judge of Family Court in Muzaffarnagar has set a Guinness World Record by disposing of 6,065 cases in 327 working days, reports PTI
Judge Tej Bahadur Singh told reporters that the move was aimed at reducing the number of pending cases in the Court, and providing justice to the litigants. A total of 903 couples were reunited after settlement in the Family Court, he added….

Source: Family Court Judge Sets Guinness World Record By Deciding Over 6,000 Cases | Live Law

Wrong if you ask, not if I do: Neeya Naana’s second dowry show !!!

After Neeya Naana, a Tamil talk show aired on Vijay TV, did an episode on young women demanding dowry from their own parents, social media was rife with memes, trolling videos, and heated conversations about the programme.

The show, which pitted young women against their mothers, shocked viewers with the blatant way in which the younger group laid out its demands. Many even suggested that the show had to be “staged” with participants only parroting what they’d been taught. After all, from wanting a helicopter at the wedding to asking for 365 sarees, there seemed to be no end for the women’s “greed”.

But were these women wrong to hold such views or make such demands? And more importantly, how do we read the overwhelming backlash that they faced after the show – which was certainly not scripted by anyone?

The News Minute had published an analysis of the show, discussing why trolling the women was a convenient position to adopt and arguing for looking at the larger picture: the obviously patriarchal structure of our society that leads to such perceptions.

Neeya Naana has since conducted a follow-up on the programme, pitting some of the women who’d spoken in the previous show against those who’d found their views so unacceptable – a predominantly male section, including some men who had trolled the women on social media.

While the first episode was extremely judgmental, portraying the women as selfish and greedy, the follow-up show was more nuanced, with even anchor Gobinath looking at things from the women’s perspective.

What emerged was the blindness to privilege that most men have. Some stated magnanimously that women were now “allowed” to study or ride a bullet. Others advised them that if they didn’t ask for dowry, their family would give them whatever they could anyway. All were united in their belief that they were somehow progressive for disliking the women’s views.

When one woman participant pointed out that an earlier Neeya Naana episode about young men demanding expensive bikes from their parents did not elicit such widespread condemnation, a male participant said, “Because the boy will go on the bike to work, earn money and look after his parents forever.” Such nobility, truly.

And even though all of them accepted that dowry was prevalent in the districts from which they came, and had clear estimates of how much a bride was expected to bring, they still argued that dowry was on the decline. That the bride’s family alone spends for the wedding was also something they agreed on while retaining their stance.

The problem, as the women pointed out, didn’t seem to be so much the practice of dowry itself but the fact that it was the women asking for it. None of the men had questioned the practice within their own circles. And except a few, nobody was willing to swear that they would get married without asking for any dowry.

The practice of dowry and how it originated as a form of property sharing was also discussed. Writer Oviya, who’d come as a guest, spoke about the feminist standpoint when it comes to dowry, and brought up a 1980s article in Manushi (India’s first feminist journal) which asked women’s rights organisations to look at dowry as a form of property sharing.

But making this argument is disingenuous if we don’t acknowledge that the gold, money and other wealth that a woman brings from her paternal home is often not under her control, especially if she is entering a family where dowry is considered to be the norm.

Understanding why brides themselves might ask for dowry doesn’t take away from the fact that we need to tear into the practice of dowry. You cannot work for an equal society if one gender is evaluated on the basis of how much it can provide and another is evaluated on the basis of how much it can bring. And that’s something all feminists agree upon (including the ‘bobcut’ elite feminists in Gobinath’s imagination).

The other curious perspective that didn’t get discussed much was “love marriage” (an Indianism if there ever was one) in the context of dowry. One young man assertively asked, “Why do you have this insecurity? You’ve studied well, you are going to do arranged marriage and not love marriage, Amma-Appa will find you a good boy, why are you worried?”

His question reveals so much about the kind of society we are. We expect young people not to feel insecure as long as they toe the line. If this young woman went against her parents and chose a partner of her liking, she wouldn’t be entitled to the dowry that they’d have otherwise given her. Is it ‘Indian Culture’ to marry for your parents’ property but not love? Something to chew on.

Further, what pray is a “good” boy? When dowry is so widely prevalent in the arranged marriage system and good boys have no issues with it, our standards for what makes a good boy are ridiculously low.

What’s more, as Dr Shalini, another guest in the show, pointed out, the men didn’t seem to think it was too much to ask a young woman to enter another family and immediately accept everyone there as her own, but found it difficult to digest the women’s own expectations.

In this episode, too, there was a young man who couldn’t stomach the fact that a woman preferred a nuclear set-up post marriage. But he didn’t have an answer when he was asked if he’d be happy to go and live with his in-laws after marriage.

The young women shared how they’d been bullied after the show, with random people giving them advice on why they were wrong.

The follow-up episode may not quell the bullying, it may very well generate new memes. But at least, they were given a chance to ask uncomfortable questions to those who were sitting snugly, confident about their “progressiveness”.