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LoveWins? Police fire tear gas to break gay pride parade in Turkey

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Image courtesy US News
Image courtesy US News

Istanbul: Turkish police on Sunday fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse thousands of people determined to have an annual Lesbian, Gay, Transexual and Bisexual pride (LGBT) march at Istanbul’s iconic Taksim square.

The square and Istiklal street, one of Istanbul’s busiest touristic streets, were decorated with rainbow colors symbolizing the LGBT community colors and was readied for the parade days before Sunday.

“We refuse to fit the ‘normal’ stereotype,” Xinhua quoted the Pride Week Committee as saying in a statement. “It is not due to nature, nor is it a disease. We are not normal! We do not accept it! We are neither wrong, nor we are alone. We refuse to accept stoic norms or what is deemed ‘normal.'”

Around 5,000 riot police and numerous water cannons were positioned in the square and neighburing streets from early morning in order to prevent the crowd from gathering in the square.

As the crowd approached the square, police fired water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas. Tourists, children and the LGBT group ran into nearby coffee shops and bars to protect themselves from the tear gas.

Parliament members from the pro Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and People’s Republican Party (CHP) attempted to negotiate with the riot police in order to convince them to allow the crowd to march. MPs formed a barricade between riot police and the crowd by holding hands. 

This year’s annual parade was considered significant after the US approved gay marriage in all its states.

“I hope the US’s decision to permit homosexual marriage in the country will set an example for Turkey. We are here to make our voices heard,” said Melih Meric, an activist.

Ninety-nine percent of Turkish citizens are Muslim, and with the conservative policies of the former ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Islamic conservatism became widespread in the country.

The crackdown by police on activists reflects the government’s official stance on homosexual culture in Turkey.

Turkey’s homosexual culture differs from that of Western countries, as is the case with Turkish culture. Turkey was influenced by both Eastern and Western civilizations since it is geographically located at the intersection between Europe and Asia.

Turkey is the only Muslim country in the world where homosexuality is not considered illegal.

There was no significant political pressure on homosexuality during the Ottoman Empire period as well. This distinguishes Turkish homosexual life from the rest of the world.

(IANS)

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UN Expert Vitit Muntarbhorn Warns Against LGBTQ Rights Violations

"More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied," believes Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN' first independent expert on the rights of LGBT

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LGBTQ
A protester to support all students sign from National Center for transgender equality, Source : Wikimedia

United Nations, October 28, 2017 : Immediate action is needed to stop human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, a UN human rights expert has said.

“It is unconscionable that people with an actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression different from a particular social norm are targeted for violence and discrimination in many parts of the world,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN’ first independent expert on the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.

“LGBT people are suffering a crucible of egregious violations, including killings, rape, mutilation, torture, arbitrary detention, abduction, harassment, physical and mental assaults.

“They are subjected to lashings and forced surgical interventions, bullying from a young age, incitement to hatred and pressures leading to suicide,” he told the UN General Assembly on Friday.

“More than 70 countries around the world today still criminalise same-sex relations, and in some of them the death penalty may be applied,” Xinhua quoted Muntarbhorn as saying.

Even where there is no law criminalising consensual same-sex relations, laws on public decency, public order and social peace are used to incriminate people under the umbrella of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he noted.

Muntarbhorn who is from Thailand said all laws criminalising same-sex relationships should be removed from the statute books, and no other legal measures should be used to target sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for the purpose of consolidating power and suppressing dissent.

It was also imperative to remove the death penalty for all cases related to the criminalization of sexual orientation, gender identity and related gender expression, he stressed.

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“There is a need for effective anti-discrimination measures covering both the public and private spheres. Not only formal but substantive, not only de jure but also de facto, in addition to the building of a community open to understanding and respecting sexual and gender diversity,” said the expert.

To be effective, anti-discrimination frameworks should provide for effective measures to investigate alleged violations, redress for victims and accountability for alleged perpetrators, he said.

Muntarbhorn also expressed concern that human rights defenders were being increasingly targeted for their work in raising issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. (IANS)

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Chennai Police Department Makes 19 Year Old Boy with Down Syndrome Police Officer for a Day

Sometimes from a small seed, greatness grows. And despite all odds, the 19-year-old Stevin is a testament to this

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'Sub Inspector' Stevin Mathew on patrol. The Hindu

Chennai, September 28, 2017 : Throughout his childhood, Stevin had just one, very simple wish.

He had longed to be a police officer. His parents claim Stevin grew up uttering “I am police, I am police” as he saw his favorite actors perform the role of a uniform-clad officer in multiple films.

Sadly though, being born with a disability meant that this wish was nothing short of a fantasy.

Doctors had long identified that a young Stevin Mathew was suffering from Down syndrome, a genetic disorder of chromosome 21 that causes developmental and intellectual delays. While the condition can be supervised with treatment, it cannot be completely cured.

For many children, being born with special conditions often means giving up on their dreams. However, we increasingly forget why they are called ‘special’ in the very first place.

Stevin Mathew’s story has been special, too.

Originally hailing from Chennai, the family is currently settled in Qatar. But it was only during a recent trip to Chennai that Stevin’s father Rajeev Thomas approached the commissioner of Chennai police, making a special request to allow his son to wear the prestigious khaki uniform for a day.

ALSO READ How Children with special needs found place in Mumbai Classrooms!

In a gesture of goodwill, Commissioner A.K. Vishwanathan agreed to help young Stevin realize his dream of becoming a police officer. Consequently, Chennai’s Assistant Commissioner Vincent Jayaraj and Inspector Suryalingam visited Stevin at his Chennai dwelling and made the fundamental arrangements for action.

A customized uniform with two stars glittering on the shoulder badge was stitched for Stevin, keeping all necessary details in mind.

“He was fascinated by the police after watching his favorite stars Suresh Gopi, Vijay, and others. He always wanted to become a police officer. So I decided to write a mail to the commissioner when we came to Chennai for a vacation”
                                          – Rajeev Thomas, Stevin’s father 

Welcomed with bouquets at the Ashok Nagar police station, the 19-year sub-inspector assumed position for an hour and was also given his own desk and briefed about the tasks undertaken for crime prevention in order completely experience an officer’s life.

Armed with a walkie-talkie and an agenda, Stevin attended phone calls and also set out on patrol duty in a police jeep along with two other constables.

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Stevin tending to his duties as a sub-inspector. Deccan Chronicle

A bright 19-year old boy, Stevin is a Diploma-holder in Computer Applications and has never let circumstances decide the course of his life.

Stevin’s parents, Rajeev and Ciby Mathew run a special school for children called HOPE Qatar in Doha and believe that special children should be given equal opportunities to help include them into the mainstream society.

Commissioner A.K. Vishwanathan and the Chennai Police department must also be acknowledged for setting an example and motivating children to dream despite all hardships.

Sometimes from a small seed, greatness grows. And despite all odds, the 19-year-old Stevin is a testament to this.

 

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What Gives Husbands The Licence to Rape? Decoding Marital Rape in the Indian Legal Scenario

Can there be two different definitions of rape? Can there be a differentiation between the rape of a married woman and the rape of an unmarried woman?

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Marital rape
While most of the developed world has penalized marital rape, surprisingly it is yet to be categorized as an offence in India. Pixabay
  • Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence
  • Marital rape is yet to be categorized as a criminal offence in India
  • According to the central government, criminalizing marital rape “may destabilize the institution of marriage”

New Delhi, September 2, 2017 : Baby works as a domestic help; she says she cannot recall her age when her parents married her off to a man who was much older to her; a man she barely knew. She didn’t anticipate her husband would demand to have intercourse on their wedding night. She was still young and not ready, but that didn’t stop him. Baby was raped by her husband on her wedding night. But marital rape means nothing to her.

Sunita irons clothes for a living. She says has been married for more years than she can remember. The duo has four kids together, but that doesn’t stop her husband from raising a hand or two on her, every once in a while. Every night, her husband would get drunk, hit her and forcefully demand to have sex, paying no heed to her resistance. Sunita has three daughters, and a son, and the husband still wants to have progenies. “I told my mother that this man has raped me multiple times. She protested, arguing that he is ‘your husband’ after all,” she said.

But did she never decide to approach the authorities?

To this, Sunita promptly replied, “I once had a sore eye after he (the husband) hit me with his shoe when I refused to have sex. I went to the local hospital and then the police. I narrated the entire scene; they were very considerate, offered me water and then asked me to go home and ‘adjust’.”

Sunita is unaware of a term called ‘marital rape’.

This is the reality of a huge part of the society in real India.

Like Baby and Sunita, women who suffer such indignities are often asked to “adjust” with perpetrators of violence because of a deep –embedded fear of what the society would say. This notion of an ‘ideal woman’ impedes women to object to illicit treatment meted out by their ‘better halves’.

The debate around the issue has become ripe once again with the Central Government stating that what “may appear to be marital rape” to a wife “may not appear so to others”. In an affidavit to the Delhi High Court, the central government took a stand against criminalizing marital rape saying that it “may destabilize the institution of marriage” and also become easy tool for harass the husbands and the in-laws.

Rape v/s Marital Rape

Rape is defined in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, but with an irregularity: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

While rape is addressed as perforation without a woman’s accord in its main clause, the only remedy to forced intercourse provided to ‘married’ woman is specified under Section 498-A of the IPC and the civil provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestiic Violence Act.

Following the horrific 2012 Nirbhaya rape case that brought the entire world to a standstill, the Indian media has given paramount coverage to instances of rape across the country. But even after 5 years of the gut-wrenching incident, there seems no end to this crime.

ALSO READ The Hardships of Sexuality: Marital rape, violence and humiliation

Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence. However, rape by husbands within holy matrimony continues to remain an obscure subject in India and the exact number of cases is hard to gauge.

According to a 2015 report by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) tracing the proximity of offenders to the victims of sexual violence, it was revealed that in 95 per cent of all rapes, the offenders were familiar to the survivors. These, presumably include acquaintances, friends, relatives and colleagues.

And what about rape committed by husbands?

These cases continue to be an under-reported crime in India. This can be attributed to two major reasons,

  • Because of the stigma associated with it
  • Because of the presence of a defunct justice system

Furthermore, more often than not, these cases go missing because of several additional (and unnecessary) barriers stemming from a combination of familial and/or social power structures, shame and dependency.

Marital Rape In India

While most of the developed world has penalized marital rape, surprisingly it is yet to be categorized as an offence in India.

A United Nations’ report titled ‘Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it?’ published in 2013 disclosed that nearly a quarter of 10,000 men  in Asia-Pacific region, including India, admitted to have indulged in the rape of a female partner. The report traced their rationale to a deep-embedded belief that they are entitled to sex despite the consent of their partners.

The study also revealed that the majority of these instances were not reported and the perpetrators faced no legal consequences.

In 2014, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in association with International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) brought out a report titled ‘Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India’. Among other things, the report analyzed the average Indian male’s understanding and interpretation of the idea of ‘masculinity’ and how that molds their interactions with women.

Not surprisingly, the study revealed that a typical man in the Indian society associated the attributes ‘tough’, and ‘controlling’ with masculinity.

Segments of the present day Indian society continue to look at men as tough forces, who can (must) freely exercise their privilege to establish rule in personal relationships and above all, continue to control women.

Additionally, the study also revealed that 60 per cent of the Indian men disclosed the use of physical violence to establish authority.

In India, stiff patriarchal norms continue to tilt the gender balance firmly in the favor of men, as a result of which, women are forced to internalize male dominance in their lives.

Marital Rape in India : A Legal Perspective

Section 375 essentially distinguishes between two categories of women

  • Married women
  • Unmarried women

Much to the Indian society’s disappointment, the Indian legal system denies protection from rape to the married woman. This creates discrimination as the women belonging to one section are denied justice merely by virtue of being married.

But can there be two different definitions of rape? Can there be a differentiation between the rape of a married woman and the rape of an unmarried woman? Is it justified to discriminate a woman just because she is married to the man who has raped her?

The Debate Around Marital Rape In India

Despite the piquant situation, the issue raised furor when Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told the Parliament that the question of criminalizing marital rape in India has no relevance “as marriage is treated as sacred here.”

Does marriage being a sacrament provide one with the legal right to rape a woman?

South Asia director at Human Rights Watch Meenakshi Ganguly had retaliated saying that it is particularly concerning when a government that claims to secure the safety of women inside and outside national territory shamelessly turn to justify a crime in the name of culture and tradition.

Group director of social and economic development at the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) Priya Nanda asserted in an interview with a leading portal that “the reason men don’t want to criminalize marital rape is because they don’t want to give a woman the power to say no.”

In 2013, a three-member commission headed by Justice J.S. Verma suggested remedial measures to combat sexual violence in India, following the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case. One of its recommendations was the criminalization of marital rape.

ALSO READ Reasons Why Marital Rape Should Be Recognised as a Criminal Offence

The recommendation was ignored by the government as a large amount of people questioned its efficiency saying if made a crime,

  • It might be misused by people
  • It will be difficult to prove
  • It might break up marriages

But, how fair is it to not have a law against marital rape, only because of the reason that it is ‘difficult to prove’?

In a broader understanding, it needs to be understood that the criminalization of marital rape must not be viewed as a step against men or the institution of matrimony, but as an attempt to demolish the patriarchal system that continues to clutch the Indian society.


 

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