On 16 December, 2012, a 23-year old woman and her friend hailed a bus at a crossing in South Delhi. In the bus, they were both brutally attacked by a group of men who claimed to be out on a ‘joy-ride’. The woman was gang raped and the man beaten up; after several hours, they were both stripped and dumped on the road. While the young woman is still in hospital, bravely battling for her life, her friend has been discharged and is helping identify the men responsible for the heinous crime.
We, the undersigned, women’s, students’ and progressive groups and concerned citizens from around the country, are outraged at this incident and, in very strong terms, condemn her gang rape and the physical and sexual assault.
As our protests spill over to the streets all across the country, our demands for justice are strengthened by knowing that there are countless others who share this anger. We assert that rape and other forms of sexual violence are not just a women’s issue, but a political one that should concern every citizen. We strongly demand that justice is done in this and all other cases and the perpetrators are punished.
This incident is not an isolated one; sexual assault occurs with frightening regularity in this country. Adivasi and Dalit women and those working in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, trans people and sex workers are especially targeted with impunity— it is well known that the complaints of sexual assault they file are simply disregarded. We urge that the wheels of justice turn not only to incidents such as the Delhi bus case, but to the epidemic of sexual violence that threatens all of us. We need to evolve punishments that act as true deterrents to the very large number of men who commit these crimes. Our stance is not anti-punishment but against the State executing the death penalty. The fact that cases of rape have a conviction rate of as low as 26% shows that perpetrators of sexual violence enjoy a high degree of impunity, including being freed of charges.
Silent witnesses to everyday forms of sexual assault such as leering, groping, passing comments, stalking and whistling are equally responsible for rape being embedded in our culture and hence being so prevalent today. We, therefore, also condemn the culture of silence and tolerance for sexual assault and the culture of valorising this kind of violence.
We also reject voices that are ready to imprison and control women and girls under the garb of ‘safety’, instead of ensuring their freedom as equal participants in society and their right to a life free of perpetual threats of sexual assault, both inside and outside their homes.
In cases (like this) which have lead to a huge public outcry all across the country, and where the perpetrators have been caught, we hope that justice will be speedily served and they will be convicted for the ghastly acts that they have committed. However, our vision of this justice does not include death penalty, which is neither a deterrent nor an effective or ethical response to these acts of sexual violence. We are opposed to it for the following reasons:
We, the undersigned, demand the following:
Regarding the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2012, women’s groups have already submitted detailed recommendations to the Home Ministry. We strongly underline that the Bill must not be passed in its current form because of its many serious loopholes and lacuna. Some points:
Endorsed by the following groups and individuals:
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
Per 100000 people:
Murders: India - 5.5 (67th rank)/ US - 5.9 (63rd)
Rapes: India - 1.7 (68th rank)/ US - 30.2 (5th)
@13/D-129 - Arun Maheshwari: Sir, very consistently, you infer something I hadn't even remotely suggested :-) Where did I rationalise/justify the crime? A crime is a crime, punishable offence according as the strictures of that particular land. That's as it is. If the code puts capital punishment for eve-teasing or mugging too, so be it. That's not the point.
My point is - in all this fuss, do we attribute responsibility fairly, at least wherever it is due?
It's quite possible that someone might kill me without provocation, that someone might mug me when I step into an ATM on a busy street, even when I have taken all the care anyone would do when on road. However, if I'm so prudent, I am expected to exercise it at all times. When I don't do it (in the name of freedom), I should at least acknowledge that I'm taking the risky road. It's possible that I might come out safe 9 times out of 10 such adventures. But when on that one unfortunate, odd incident if someone exploits my vulnerability, instead of just blaming the other person (which is rightful), should I not be a little more reflective and assess if I went overboard? This is unto the individuals. I don't intend to suggest that for this reason the punishment for the other be reduced (of course not!) or that I should also be charged with an offence (that's absurd!).
Without taking it either sides, is it not possible for the individual to just sit up and reflect? What is so wrong or horrible in this?
These campaigns reek of the lines, "men should be punished", "men should be taught", etc. A man doesn't grow up in isolation. He is a bit of us - this very society which includes both men and women. The chap doesn't pick up values from just his father, but also from his mother, sister, cousins, friends, etc. When a guy returns home depressed after a heartbreak and his mother or sister cheer him saying, "how dare she refuse you! Go and get her", the women too are responsible for his arrogance and disrespect. Do we see this? Can we, therefore, not fuss about teaching men only, but also insist that women be taught in equal measure?
That is all. If this time too you infer something amusing, I would rather just laugh it off. Have a good day! :-)
Chittaranjanji, either I am dense or you are dense. Let me keep it simple in the spirit of the season and say very likely I am the dense one here missing something profound (anyways as my b'day approaches and the world still around 2012 notwithstanding, I look at my mistakes and do realize, I am dense).
However, let me leave you with a few thoughts ....
1. In the first case, the crime the person who mugged you committed is "mugging". He/she is the criminal. As you suggested, you advertised - "come and mug me". What crime would you want to be charged with for this advertisement - may be assets disproportionate with your known sources of income :-)? Or, would you want the magnitude of the crime of "mugging" be reduced (and hence the punishment for it for the criminal)?
2. In the 2nd case, the crime the person committed is so called "eve teasing" (of course this is a more uniquely Indian crime - in some countries the example you gave would be considered flirting or acceptable banter). Of course, in most of these modern civilized country, if this went too far into violence or worse forced sexual act it would be considered a crime, plain and simple. Again, what crime would you want the women to be charged with for as you suggest "inviting" a sexual act to be forced upon her. Or, again would want the magnitude of the other persons crime be reduced (and hence punishment)?
Hope as you answer these to yourself (don't have to write the response), you find the fallacy of your arguments and why there is only one crime and one criminal in these examples. Otherwise, it would suggest you are promoting the idea of "inviting crime" as a rationale to minimize the magnitude and gravity of the crime by apportioning blame in some proportion, i.e., making it a justifiable crime.
An “aggravated sexual assault” ( ASA) is where the law has to be amended and all states should be mandated by law to set up special sexual assault courts which shall have all other facilities like a lab and a victim statement recording facility by a magistrate in front of a women doctor and woman police officer.
So if a woman complaints all that a “woman police station” has to do is to take her to this place where evidence will be collected by the lab and a victim's statement would be recorded by magistrate ( any time of day )which shall be an admissible evidence in court.
The ASA case should be solved within one year maximum time period in all conditions.
Then what is Aggravated Sexual Assault?
In an example case, the rapist assaulted , but could not rape due to any reason including his own inability to penetrate in the last minute. In that case , it should be considered as rape. As per present laws defense lawyer might ask “ where is semen sample”? where is the evidence of any tearing of hymen etc. in case of a virgin girl. There was no more and may be no evidence of molestation because her clothes were not torn etc., which is off course very disturbing for the girl to answer in the court .
2 ) sequential terms of punishment.
That is when a woman is molested, injured and then raped , the punishment will only be for rape as per present norms because the judge will finally say that jail punishment for all these offences shall be borne by the culprit all at one time. But if it is sequential ( and mandated ) , the criminal has to undergo one after the other like 7 years for rape plus 2 years and again plus 3 years for example.
3) stalking would degenerate to rape and it true in 90% of all rape cases. There should be a system whereby stalkers should be immediately arrested and a heavy punishment like minimum 2 years jail term must be there and this is very important. At present stalkers will not get any punishment. Stalking should be declared as crime and policing system should make it clear that it would take stalking as very serious. Police training and their study material should include the dangers of stalking and how to profile a stalker.
4) women demanding a full liberty is all good ideologically speaking. But the practical reality is that in big cosmopolitan cities alertness of a woman is essential. She must avoid all types of dangerous situations of remaining alone in all places. She must also educated to take stalking very seriously and must not entertain such men. In fact she should be told to report to police. First of all police manuals have to be changed.
5) If the victim had undergone torture that put her in critical condition in the hospital like the recent bus rape incident, the punishment must be death by hanging. The present laws provide for Capital Punishment only if the victim dies. But it has to be amended so as to include cases where a rod or a stick is thrust in her vagina ,irrespective of if it had caused a critical injury ,bordering death or not. Once such a torture is perpetrated on a girl/woman/ or a child , it should invite death by hanging. Recent bus rape incident involved such a torture. But if the victim fortunately survives, ( and I pray she shall survive ) there is no question of punishment by hanging of these six men, as per present law. They will walk out of jail probably within 20 years.
Laws regarding rape should be amended immediately without further delay. First track special courts for rape , where the appeal by defendant should only be to a high court bench must be set up immediately.
@10/D-83, Arun Maheshwari: >>"You seem to be convinced there is something called "justifiable rape"<<
What an amusing inference, sir! My point isn't about justification. Far from it. My question is about attributing responsibility fairly. Let's take a simpler example - if I flash jewellery (or even cash box) on my person (which I have absolute right/freedom to), and someone mugs me, is there no fault of mine? Yes, out of a thousand, 999 will not try to do anything to me, even if 600 of them might fancy to. But there would be one chap who will take the unreasonable step. Do I justify it? No. An unreasonable act is unreasonable, regardless. However, it's equally irresponsible of me to blame only him for the incident. Do you still see some problem in this? And this isn't something abstract. People know that such an event is possible, which is why they keep the valuables (gold, money, etc) safe. It doesn't mean that they are being denied their right or freedom. It's just an act of prudence, being aware that it's not en entirely safe world out there.
Coming back, my point is - such campaigns almost always blame men and never acknowledge that women could be at fault (am not referring to this particular incident, though). That's sloppy and idiotic. If justice is sought earnestly, then one must also be mature to acknowledge responsibility and where it is overlooked, also to accept the blame.
The other day, I saw a girl flash the caption "have you seen here?" on her tee. What does it mean? Does she have a right to wear what she likes to? Yes. Does she have the freedom to flash whichever caption she likes to? Absolutely, too. This was in a shopping mall. She may be later stopping by at some bus-stop. Public places, where the likelihood of an odd chap surfacing is always on. 200 guys may just see it and move on. 400 guys may see it and gossip among their groups. But there could be - could be - that one odd chap who may not stop at just seeing. He may make a passing remark or say in jest, "ya, i have seen. very nice stuff". The chap is at fault - undeniably. Nothing justifies it. However, is the girl faultless? My point is just this. Has she invited it? Perhaps not (nobody invites trouble). Has she kicked out the prudence of what may possibly happen at public places? Certainly.
These feminist voices are very loud about asserting the rights of the girl to wear what she likes (which I agree with, too), but refuse to see, forget accepting, if the girl, too, was rather at fault. You ask me why one must dress up appropriately? It's ridiculous, because the same people accept without any questions the dress code their company imposes. Then why such a fuss about observing it in other spaces, too. It's for the same reason that men don't step out naked.
It's immature to always blame the others for consequences (We are not talking of the horrid incidents in, say, Kashmir, where homes are plundered and people are humiliated. It follows a different power dynamics).
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