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Mumbai couple raid: A ban on love?

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mumbai1By Ridham Gambhir

Knock knock! Who is it?

Not Don, but Mumbai Police to arrest consenting adults for their “indecent behavior in public”. Since when has spending time within four walls of a room become an ‘indecent‘ and ‘public’ event?

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Recently, Malwani Police rounded up 40 couples from hotel rooms in Madh Island and Aksa. The police made some of them call up their parents. Finally, they had to pay a fine of Rs. 1200, bear the limitless humiliation and were allowed to leave after 5 hours.

Women are raped in public buses. People take bribe in government institutions. Terrorists escape and child trafficking goes undiscovered. Putting all this aside, the police decided to reprimand couples for making love consensually and that too within four walls.

Over fifty men urinate in public areas and sometimes even on walls that broadly announce a fine for urinating but, the police doesn’t insult or take anybody to police station for urinating. They find it better to admonish couples for having intercourse within a room than controlling the former that is worse than such a “public indecency”.

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A still from Fifty Shades of Grey

Welcome to India! This is a country that gave the world’s ancient sex compendium, Kama Sutra but banned the screening of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The entire nation held out candles and marched for Nirbhaya while our government chose to ban India’s Daughter, a documentary based on that horrific gang rape because it featured anti-women statements by one of the rapists. It is as if the government implies that rape is fine, but confabulating about anti-women issues is a big no-no!

While countries abroad are fighting for legalization of same-sex marriage, the Indian government is barring its people from even hearing the word “lesbian”. The Central Board of Film Certification asked the makers of Dum Laga Ke Haisha to mute the word “lesbian”. Good going!

A still from Dum Laga Ke Haisha
A still from Dum Laga Ke Haisha

The Mumbai raid was conducted under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner (Zone XI) Vikram Deshpande around 3 pm on Thursday. The couples were made to call their parents and were made to stay in the police station till 10 pm. One of the couples lambasted the police for they were engaged and were horrified at such an intrusion.

Our government ought to take truck loads of bed sheets and drape the Khajuraho temples to protect the public morality. After all, from erotic sculptures to sex positions, everything is well embellished in that temple.

 

Khajuraho Temple
Khajuraho Temple

While Kamlesh Vaswani caused the porn ban, a Delhi-based lawyer dragged Snapdeal.com to court for selling sex toys and accessories. Have these lawyers ever wondered that by banning such items, will people cease to have sex?

Gandhi ji ke 3 Bandar remain a well-etched memory for us. However, our government ought to amend it and rather say, Bura na dekho, bura na suno aur bura na karo.

Dear couples, in case you are married and are planning to go to a dinner, do carry your marriage certificate along with you. And couples who aren’t married, let’s observe a 2-minute silence for you. Ultimately, you can neither go to a park nor to a hotel room.

So what can be the prospective ban? Banana for its obscene shape?

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Indian Hospitals are using cameras, tags, lasers to curb Baby trafficking and theft

Indian hospitals are educating their staff to spot baby thieves amid fears that baby trafficking is becoming an organized crime nationwide

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Activists of Socialist Unity Center of India-Marxist (SUCI-M) protest a recent case of child trafficking in West Bengal state in Kolkata, India, Nov. 29, 2016. Officials busted a child trafficking racket and rescued more than 20 children, according to news reports
Activists of Socialist Unity Center of India-Marxist (SUCI-M) protest a recent case of child trafficking in West Bengal state in Kolkata, India, Nov. 29, 2016. Officials busted a child trafficking racket and rescued more than 20 children, according to news reports. VOA

Hospitals in India are starting to tag newborns, mothers, and medics as well as installing extra security cameras and educating staff to spot baby thieves amid fears that baby trafficking is becoming an organized crime nationwide.

Officials said this was part of a drive starting at government hospitals in southern Tamil Nadu state to ensure nurses, doctors and visitors know of the threat of babies being stolen from maternity wards and babies being sold illegally for adoption that is baby trafficking.

At the Rajaji government hospital in Madurai, the first in Tamil Nadu to introduce the program, laser beams at exit points trigger alarms if untagged adults take babies out in order to curb baby trafficking.

“We just want to prevent the theft of babies,” N.K. Mahalakshmi, the doctor in charge of laser tagging at the hospital, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is not fool proof but a deterrent. … Our hospital staff has also been told to be extra vigilant.”

Traffickers, officials sometimes collude

Campaigners have raised concerns that traffickers are often colluding with officials to steal babies from maternity wards and illegally sell them for adoption which is baby trafficking.

Mumbai police arrested a gang for convincing single mothers to sell their babies last year, while in West Bengal police found newborns being stolen from mothers in medical clinics after staff told them that their babies were stillborn.

Dev Ananth, a child protection officer in Tirunelveli district, said the state government is investigating several cases where hospital staff persuaded mothers to sell their babies for about 10,000 Indian rupees ($156).

Tirunelveli district will put posters up in every hospital, alerting pregnant women, families, and staff to the dangers of baby trafficking in overcrowded corridors.

“Many don’t see it as a trafficking issue,” he said.

“We are going to train hospital staff to identify potential cases, including what to do if a baby is abandoned at birth. At present, the do’s and don’ts are not clear.”

No official data on baby trafficking

There is no official data on the number of babies stolen from hospitals in Tamil Nadu, but almost 180,000 children were born in government facilities in 2016, statistics show.

More than four out of 10 of human trafficking cases in India in 2015 involved children being bought, sold and exploited as modern-day slaves, according to crime figures.

“Public hospitals are vulnerable spaces where there are no effective ways to monitor access to newborn babies,” said Paul Sunder Singh of the children’s charity Karunalaya. (VOA)

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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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Controversial TV Show ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’ goes Off Air: Story Revolved 18-year-old Girl marrying a 9-year-old Boy

After defending it for over a month, the channel has finally pulled the plug on the show in response to a series of complaints against its content.

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Pehredaar Piya Ki
The show revolved around an 18-year-old girl marrying a nine-year-old boy. Youtube
  • The show which went on air last month gained popularity for all the wrong reasons
  • The plot revolves around an unusual marital bond between an 18-year old girl and a nine-year old boy
  • The channel decided to pull it off air following complaints on its content that is alleged to promote child marriage 

New Delhi, August 29, 2017 : Sony Entertainment Television on Tuesday said it has pulled its controversial show “Pehredaar Piya Ki” off air. The development came after a string of complaints against the show which revolved around an 18-year-old girl marrying a nine-year-old boy.

The development was effective from Monday, according to an official statement issued on behalf of the channel on Tuesday.

ALSO READ Where is Indian Television Steering? ‘Pehredar Piya Ki’ Shows a Young Boy and Mature Girl in Wedlock

“We are pulling off our programme ‘Pehredaar Piya Ki’ from television. While we understand that the decision to end this serial will be disappointing to those whose creative energies are vested in it, namely, its crew and cast, we (as a channel) are convinced that we will be better served by focusing instead on developing viewer interest in our upcoming, new shows.

“We are grateful to all the artists, producers and fans of our shows and request you to graciously support the viewership of our newer ventures,” the statement read.

Earlier this month, the Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) had directed the channel to shift the show to a late night slot, besides running it with a scroll stating that it does not promote the concept of child marriage.

Even an online petition was moved for a ban on the TV show, which has been described as having “obnoxious and perverted” content that can “severely impact impressionable minds of children”.

The makers have been defending it all along, saying viewers must understand the circumstances in which the girl has to marry the child.

“Pehredaar Piya Ki”, produced by Shashi Sumeet Productions, went on air last month. The makers were also reportedly planning to add a forward leap to the story. (IANS)