Tuesday October 17, 2017
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Accidents Galore: 63 lives lost in two days, where is the accountability for road safety?

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AccidentInIndia

By Gaurav Sharma

Every year scores of people succumb to various kinds of accidental deaths. India, however, takes the scope and magnitude of such ‘accidental deaths’ to a whole new level.

In this regard, data accessed from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), a government body responsible for collecting crime data, reveals a particularly concerning trend.

Between 2003-2013, while the population grew at a rate of 15 per cent, the increase in rate of accidental deaths during the same period was an exorbitant 25 per cent.

On the surface level, the massive gap in population growth and accidental death rate might not showcase any pertinent reason behind it, a deeper scrutiny divulges a very obvious yet overlooked explanation: state apathy.

Magnitude of Tragedy

In a short span of two days, an eye popping 50 people have lost their lives, and more than 120 people have been injured in such callous accidents. Women and children are amongst the casualties of the horrific string of disasters that have struck northern India.

In Ludhiana, an ammonia gas leak took the lives of more than 6 people and injured 100 people. The leak occurred when a tanker got stuck under a flyover on the Doraha-Bypass road near a canal, about 25 kms from Ludhiana. As usual, in the aftermath of the mishap, police and civil servants rushed to the spot to take ‘stock of the situation’.

Following the catastrophes on close heels, at least 19 people, including 8 children, were killed in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district, when a speeding truck collided with two tractor trollies. After the occurrence of the ghastly incident, villagers blocked the highway and pelted stones at police vehicles, unable to control their ire.

The public outrage forced Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to condole the loss of lives and announce an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs. 50,000 each for those injured.

On the same day, another disturbing accident happened in an East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, when a Multi Utility Vehicle (MUV) fell off the Dowlesawaram bridge into the Godavari river. At least 22 people, including nine women and six children, were killed in the ‘drowning’ accident.

A day before, in an equally gruesome incident, sixteen people, half of them children, were electrocuted and 26 injured when the bus they were travelling in came in contact with a live wire jutting out of a power transformer in Rajasthan’s Tonk district.

The shocking incident resulted in announcement of Rs. 5 lakh to the families of the deceased and Rs. 2 lakh to those who had been critically injured.

Political Insensitivity  

In the aftermath of totally avoidable accidents, it is but usual for the politicians to announce a paltry sum as compensation, a measure to appease the bereaved families and stifle resentful voices. This is inevitably preceded by an outpouring of grief from the politicians over the social media, to showcase their condolences.

What they fail to take stock of, however, is that loss of life in India is taken very lightly. Quite often grieving families are left with an indelible void, which cannot be filled by mere monetary compensation.

Road rules and, more importantly, the enforcement of traffic laws is a serious issue which no politician is willing to fix. Bypassing infrastructure strictures is also common practice, indulged in by both private developers as well as government bodies.

The death toll, if not wholly eliminated, can be reduced to great extent if such such issues are prioritized by the government.

In any other country, such as the United States and most European nations, such abhorrent bypassing of civil rules and regulations would have resulted in heavy indictment of those involved.

In India, on the other hand, a meager apology by the politicos, followed by a puny ex-gratia compensation, relieves them of any accountable responsibility. Should something as precious as life be squandered like a piece of cake, without any afterthought of remedying the chronic ailment that has spread like wildfire?

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Crimes Against Women Perpetrate in Every two Minutes: NCRB Analysis

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Crimes against women in India
Father, left and mother, center of the Indian student victim who was fatally gang raped on this day three years back on a moving bus in the Indian capital join others at a candle lit vigil in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. VOA
  • Any kind of physical or mental harm towards women is deemed as  “crime against women”
  • Domestic violence is the most dominant crime against women
  • Andhra Pradesh state is the highest to report crimes against women in the period of ten years

Sep 20, 2017: A report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) suggests that crimes against women have increased violently in the last ten years with an estimated figure of  2.24 million crimes. The figure is also suggestive of the fact: 26 crimes against women are reported every hour, or one complaint every two minutes, reports IndiaSpend analysis.

The most dominant crime against women with 909,713 cases reported in last decade was ‘cruelty by husbands and relatives’ under section 498‐A of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

‘Assault on women’ booked under section 354 of IPC is the second-most-reported crime against women with 470,556 crimes.

‘Kidnapping and abduction of women’ are the third-most-reported crime with 315,074 crimes, followed by ‘rape’ (243,051), ‘insult to modesty of women’ (104,151) and ‘dowry death’ (80,833).

The NCRB report also listed three heads, namely commit rape (4,234), abetment of suicide of women (3,734) and protection of women from domestic violence (426) under which cases of crime against women have been reported in 2014.

Andhra Pradesh has reported the most crimes against women (263,839) over the past 10 years.

Andhra Pradesh state is the highest (263,839) to report crimes against women in the period of ten years. Crimes reported for insult (35,733) ranks first followed by cruelty by husband relatives (117,458), assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty (51,376) and dowry-related deaths (5,364).

West Bengal (239,760) is second most crime against women state followed by Uttar Pradesh (236,456), Rajasthan (188,928) and Madhya Pradesh (175,593).

Abduction increased up to three folds over the recent years,  with Uttar Pradesh being the worst affected state. Cases rose from 15,750 cases in 2005 to 57,311 cases in 2014.

Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94


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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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Droom: ‘Talking Gods’ Campaign by Indian Origin Sandeep Agarwal to now help you Drive Safely!

Droom's new campaign on road safety lets God watch and talk to you while you drive

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Talking Gods Campaign
Talking Gods Campaign. Twitter
  • Droom is an online automobile transaction site that also campaigns for road safety
  • In their latest campaign, Droom has launched “Talking Gods’ campaign for your car that will watch you while you drive
  • In addition, a pocket book with rules and regulations of driving, vehicles and their statistics and emergency numbers has also been launched

July 4, 2017: Droom is an online marketplace that carries out automobile transactions. It is also popular for its successful campaigns launched in the past such as Ambulance First Campaign, Helmet Campaign, School Children First campaign among others.

In a recent launch of their new campaign called “Talking Gods”, the company aims to make the drivers safer on the road. The campaign involves fitting idols of God on the dashboards that have inbuilt accelerometers and a pre-recorded warning message. In almost all the vehicles being sold through Droom, the instrument will be pre-fitted in the deities. So any time that a car is over-speeding, the inbuilt message will automatically “talk” as a warning to the driver to adhere to a safe speed limit.

Messages include “Why are you in a hurry to meet me, child? Drive Slow Drive Safe” and “Your soul is permanent, your body is not. Drive Slowly” as spoken by the God.

ALSO READ: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Inspiration Pete Frates Hospitalized Again 

India ranks third in terms of deaths due to accidents. There is one death every four minutes in India due to a road accident. As Sandeep Aggarwal, Founder, and CEO of Droom, highlights that the death toll last year was 57,000 due to road accidents and particularly speeding cars, it becomes important to address this issue. Sandeep Aggarwal is widely regarded as the father of marketplaces in the Indian startup ecosystem. Droom was launched in 2014 as India’s only automobile marketplace.

This unique concept is a great effort to remind over speeding cars to slow down. As Vineet Mahajan, the Head of Art Contract Advertising said, “We thought the Indian Driver could listen to us. After all, the God is on our side.”

– by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394