Tuesday October 17, 2017
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Social Boycott is now Banned in Maharashtra

It has been criminalized under the court of law with a penance of seven year imprisonment or a fine of 500,000, or both.

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To go with story 'India-social-marriage-caste,FEATURE' by Abhaya Srivasta In this photograph taken on May 5, 2014 Inder Singh More, the head of the 42-village Khap panchayat or local village council, speaks during a meeting in Hissar district of the northern state of Haryana. For as long as anyone can remember, villagers north of India's capital have lived under two sets of laws -- those of the government and another imposed by unelected but powerful men. Now in a sign of major reform coming to a corner of the country steeped in tradition, Haryana state's largest council has allowed couples from neighbouring villages to marry, even if they belong to different castes. AFP PHOTO/ SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

By Aakash Jakhar

An age-old practice of village councils to obtrude “social boycott” that repudiate people for flouting tradition, has been quashed by the government of Maharashtra, making it the first state in the nation to put an end to this decades-old practice.

The oppressed and the untouchables and women often lug the burden of the consequent discernment, passed so as to penalize for the discerned violations like inter-caste marriages or dressing indecently.

Last month, the state has put sanctions against the practice of social boycotts. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis said, “The Act was required against the backdrop of atrocities inflicted on people in the name of tradition, caste and community”. He also added, “It is necessary to prohibit social boycotts as a matter of social reform in the interest of public welfare”.

Related article: Women barred from entering into Maharashtra Shani Temple

People along with their families have been exiled from their community as per the orders of the village council and no prior access to temples, occasions and markets. In some cases, women were even tagged as necromancers by the village council, and commanded mass killings or gang rapes as a punishment.

According to the new law passed in Maharashtra, social boycott is a crime under the court of law with a penance of seven year imprisonment or a penalty of 500,000($7,500), or both. Human Rights activists asked other states to follow Maharashtra’s act and look at it as an example.

Road leading to a village in Maharashtra. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Road leading to a village in Maharashtra. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“The law will help check caste crimes to some extent. It empowers lower-caste people and it empowers Human rights organisations, as it gives us a tool with which to fight against village panchayats,” said Irfan Engineer, Director of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai. “We need a similar law in the rest of the country, particularly in states where (unelected) khap panchayats are strong,” he told Reuters.

Khap panchayats are non-elected village panchayats consisting of people from a specific caste or clan. Since 1992, their power has reduced, when the elected village panchayats were made obligatory. But, they still hold a strong and powerful position in the socially hidebound states including Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and parts of Uttar Pradesh.

In 2011, Supreme Court described these unelected Panchayats as “Kangaroo Courts” that are completely illegitimate.

The state of Maharashtra has been a home to some of the eminent social reformers like BR Ambedkar who opposed and fought against caste discrimination and enacted laws declaring the practices of human sacrifices and other superstitious beliefs as a criminal offence under the court of law.

“The social boycott act is another step towards ending outdated customs,” said Avinash Patil, Executive President of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, who had campaigned for the bill, as well as the 2013 law. He said, “We are demanding that the central government enact similar laws in all states, so we can end this brutal practice”.

Aakash is an engineering graduate from Sat Kabir Institute of Technology and Management, Haryana. Twitter @DabanggDragon

 

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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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UP Chief Yogi Adityanath Hails Centre’s Action for Raising Creamy Layer Bar for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs)

The government is going to set up a commission to implement sub-categorization within the central government reservation bracket for Other Backward Classes

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creamy layer
Yogi Adityanath, Wikimedia
  • Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath hailed the actions of the government for raising the creamy layer bar for the Other Backward Classes
  • The central government raised the creamy layer bar from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh p.a for OBCs
  • The decision is based on the recommendation of the National Commission for Backward Classes

Lucknow, Aug 24, 2017: Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath hailed the actions of the government for raising the creamy layer bar for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) for an equal distribution of reservation benefits.

“We are thankful to the Prime Minister and the Central Government for further categorizing the OBC and other castes as some of them weren’t able to avail the policies of reservations earlier,” he told ANI.

The central government on Wednesday raised the creamy layer bar from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 8 lakh p.a for OBCs for central government jobs and also declared setting up of a commission to work out sub-categorization.

ALSO READ: Decoding Reservation in India: Is it a Constitutional Flaw or Unnecessary Favor? 

The Commission will work on the following:  identifying the castes, sub-castes, and communities in the central list of the OBCs and dividing them into their corresponding sub-categories. The Commission will present the report within 12 weeks from the date of authorization of the chairman.

According to ANI, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the decision is based on the recommendation of the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).

The ‘creamy layer’ is a ceiling which prohibits members of the OBC from availing reservations in employment. Currently, 27 per cent reservation in government jobs and seats in educational institutes if the income of the OBC family is up to Rs. 6 lakh.


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt. 

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Gram Art Project: Innovative way to voice Indian Farmer’s Issues

Land art was used in Maharashtra under The Gram Art Project to voice the farmer’s ache through creativity

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A distant farm
A distant farm. wikimedia
  • The Gram Art Project, last year created a portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the field, it was their way of asking him to ‘Grow in India’
  • There are many issues being faced by the community, yet they have not come together as one
  • Last year, artists from across India discussed contemporary problems of farming with the farmers of the village at the Gram Dhara Chakra Utsav

Nagpur, Maharashtra, August 4, 2017: The Gram Art Project is a praiseworthy initiative in which Land Art was used to voicing farmer’s issues. The term Land Art means, creating art which is made directly on the landscape by sculpting the land and making structures in the landscape.

It is done by using natural materials such as rocks or twigs etc. The term originated from the art movement in the U.S.A in the 1960s and 1970s.The Gram Art Project was in the news last year as well after it created a portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the field, it was their way of asking him to ‘Grow in India’.

The collective has been since then involved in working with farmers and highlighting issues of the rural, agrarian economy using art in the village Paradsinga, near Nagpur, Maharashtra. Its volunteers and artists (mostly natives of the village) were present in Delhi to talk about their work.

“Last year, artists from across India discussed contemporary problems of farming with the farmers of the village at the Gram Dhara Chakra Utsav, organised by volunteers, after which seven images for land art were drawn out and grown on the fields,” said Shweta Bhattad (who initiated the project), mentioned Indian Express Report.

One of the images was grown by artist Ganesh Dhoke. He made an Indian map with a farmer and his bull inside. “India is primarily dependent on agriculture and, without it, there will be no food. People need to understand that farmers are leaving the profession and youngsters are not joining it. This message is for the government, too,” Dhoke said. He is the only youngster in his village to be a full-time farmer.

Mumbai-based artist Kalyani Uday’s land art consisted of two adjacent pyramids, with one of them in reverse. It had a leafy legume accompanied with the slogan Kisan Ekta Zaruri Hai.

Tanmay Joshi, a volunteer said, “There are many issues being faced by the community, yet they have not come together as one. They are at the bottom of the pyramid, so we wanted to show that the reverse of the equation is possible.” Satyabhama Manjhi, an artist belonging to Odisha, created a small Land Art – the local village school and the students.

Adarsh Dhoke said that earlier many people used to urinate near that school wall, so they decided to grow a toilet seat with plants, resulting which the practice stopped. His parents are into farming but he never wanted to do the same. During his interaction with school children, other children echoed his view, though he tried to change that. “Nobody wants to pursue farming but, after I spoke to them, they started thinking about it,” he said.

Also Read: Israeli experts train Indian farmers in advanced agricultural practices to cultivate Dates in Gujarat

Gram Art Project also promotes chemical-free farming and use of native seeds in Paradsinga. The volunteers are involved in activities like building machans and providing the daily weather forecast.

Ganesh Dhoke has reached out to other like-minded people and a road was built that connects 50 fields. It made locomotion in monsoon easier. Similarly, Vednath Lohi recognized the need that there was no place for children to play. With the help of the artists, they converted a land, called Gothan, which was earlier used for bad practices like defecation and gambling and they turned it into a playground for children. Also decorated it with sustainable sculptures near which children can play.

The condition of Indian farmers is quite problematic as many farmer’s suicide due to the heavy loan’s on them which they are not capable to pay off or poor financial condition in general. So, initiatives like this are a positive step towards highlighting farmer’s issues.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
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