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Acid attacks: Stemming the free flow of toxicity

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By Ridham Gambhir

He slowly broke the seal of the bottle with his gloved hands and tapped the man sitting ahead of him. The girl was still walking on the footpath ignorant of these men. With an expeditious move, he threw open the bottle. The acid splashed out and incinerated her face ruthlessly. Her scream silenced the humdrum of the road while the bike raced along the corner and disappeared.

Crystal_body_AcidAttack1

Acid attacks have been experienced by some, seen by a few and read by a lot more. A woman doctor became a patient herself when two juveniles threw acid on her face in a marketplace in West Delhi. This attack took place in 2014, one year after the Supreme Court ordered a ban on the over-the-country sale of acid. The ban was announced as a result of a PIL filed by Luxmi Agarwal, an acid attack survivor.

Despite the ban, the year 2014 saw an unparalleled 309 acid attacks being reported from across the country. While the open sale is banned, the life-taking liquid continues to be sold illegally in places like Ghaziabad in UP for a minimal amount of Rs.25.

Luxmi Agarwal, at the age of 16 became an acid attack victim when she rejected the advances of a 32-year old man. Hina Fatima, a young bride was force fed sulphuric acid in the name of whisky by her husband and later splashed with a whole bottle of it. Sarojini Kalbagh, 19, died of 80 per cent burns when her ‘lover’ succumbed her to death by the fatal liquid. Noorjahan, a widow and a mother of two was soaked in acid by a dejected factory worker.

No matter which age group they belong to, women are the majority victims of such attacks. It is not out of his love, but his desire to overpower the woman and an attempt to prove his masculinity that results in such a heinous act.

To combat the rising acid attacks, the apex court has announced stern rules. Such as, anyone under the age of 18 will not be able to purchase acids like hydrochloric, sulfuric and nitric. These acids are easily available for mere Rs. 20 and are used as cleaners. Shops will have to keep details like the quantity sold and the addresses of buyers, who will need to present photo identification to purchase acids.

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Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal

Retailers will have to declare the amount of acid being stocked to the police,  the court said. Failure to do so would lead to undeclared stock being confiscated and a fine of up to 50,000 rupees. Additionally, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal in consultation with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and health minister Satyendra Jain, along with a delegation of 5 acid victims announced that the latter shall be provided free medical treatment at all hospitals in Delhi, including private hospitals.

It is the easy availability of acid and the rage of a spurned lover/husband that provokes him to ‘teach a lesson’ to the girl. Blaming the government authorities for such acts is commonplace but while the government is putting a check on the supply and demand of acid, how about we reappraise our gender relations and morality?

Are we to remain a silent spectator to such attacks or just a candle-bearer after these women die? Reduction in the sale of acid will not reduce acid attacks, it is the depth of humanity that needs to be explored and ameliorated.

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Triple Talaq Ban in India: Union Cabinet Passes Bill Making the Practice a Criminal Offence

The BMMA celebrates its victory over the much-debated practice of instant divorce

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Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban
Muslim women are often victims of triple talaq, in spite of the ban, VOA News
  • Supreme court had ruled that the practice of triple talaq as illegal in August 2017.
  • On December 15, the Union Cabinet passed a bill which would make it a criminal offence
  • .The bill recommends a sentence of imprisonment for three years in case of a violation.
  • The bill also makes provisions for “subsistence allowance” for the women divorced through triple talaq.

On December 15, the Union Cabinet of India cleared a draft legislation, which would make the controversial practice of triple talaq a criminal offence in India, a violation of which may result in imprisonment for a period of three years for the husband. The recently approved bill, deemed as the ‘Muslim Women’s Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’, was framed by a group of ministers including the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, and the Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and was headed by the Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

What is triple talaq

The practice of triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, is a Islamic ritual through which a man might divorce his wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’, that is, the Arabic word for ‘divorce’, three times. The controversial practice, which dates back to Islamic scriptures of the 8th century AD, was a common one among the Muslim population in India, often enacted through letters, emails, text messages, Skype and Whatsapp.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
The practice of triple talaq still continues, in spite of the ban, VOA News

Triple Talaq Ban

On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court of India had banned the archaic practice of triple talaq, after a long and hard legal battle fought by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), also known as the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement. “Triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran and consequently, it violates Shariat … What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well,” they had declared, making India the 23rd nation to ban the practice of unilateral divorce, after Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Many non-governmental Islamic organizations, along with certain clerics had opposed the verdict, on the grounds that it was an infringement of their right to religion, which is ensured by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court, however, had decided to uphold Article 14 of the Constitution, which grants every citizen equality before the law. The verdict had met with mixed reactions among the people of India, attracting applause as well as apprehension all over the country.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
Women can now demand subsistence allowance for themselves and minor children, VOA News

However, in spite of the Supreme Court verdict, there have been reports of instant divorces performed through the process of oral declaration, as many continued to ignore the various advisories issued by the government.
The new bill approved by the government also makes provisions for Muslim Women to demand “subsistence allowance” for herself and her minor children from her husband, in case she feels victimised by the now illegal practice of triple talaq.

 

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Love Jihad Case : Kerala’s State Women Commission Directs SP to submit report on Hadiya’s Condition

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  However, their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala

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Office of Kerala Women Comission
Office of Kerala Women Comission. Official Website KWC

Kerala, October 28, 2017 : A day after a video of Hadiya pleading to be ‘saved’ from her father’s brutalities was released, Kerala’s State Women Commission has directed Kottayam Superintendent of Police to inquire and submit a report on Hadiya’s present conditions.

In the video release at a press conference in Kochi by social activist Rahul Eashwar, Hadiya can be heard saying, “You have to get me out. I am sure I will be killed tomorrow or the day after.” Hadiya claims that her father is physically assaulting her and pleads to be saved in the video before her voice trails away.

The direction came following reports that Hadiya is being sedated and physically abused at her parents’ house.

The State Women Commission has told the SP that an officer not less than the rank of a DSP should conduct the inquiry and submit a report on the condition of the 24-year old woman in love jihad case.

24 year old Akhila had converted to Islam and taken the name Hadiya to marry Shafin Jahan.  Their marriage was declared null and void by the High Court of Kerala after Hadiya’s father Ashokan has approached the court, claiming that his daughter had been forcefully converted and her alleged husband was involved in plans to take her out of the country for questionable reasons.

Consequently, Hadiya’s husband Shafin Jahan had approached the Supreme Court and challenged the order by the High Court of Kerala, which is still hearing the case.

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

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Gorkhaland: SC allows withdrawl of Central Forces from Darjeeling

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The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 27: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed the Centre to withdraw seven companies of central paramilitary forces from trouble-torn Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal where the agitation for Gorkhaland, a separate state for Gorkhas took a violent turn.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud directed the Centre to withdraw the seven companies of Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPF) for being used for election duties in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

The bench also sought a response from the West Bengal government on the Centre’s appeal against the High Court’s order putting on hold its decision to withdraw 10 of the 15 companies of the central paramilitary forces deployed in the hill district.

The apex court also stayed the pending proceedings before the High Court and said that it will deal with the case in a holistic manner and posted the appeal of the Centre for further hearing on November 27.

In an interim order, the High Court had stayed the withdrawal of CAPF from the Darjeeling hills till October 27 after the state government approached it against the Centre’s decision.(IANS)