Our judicial system has a very different view on the racism and its impact on human life. In a recent case, the Madras High Court in Madurai said in a judgment that a man calling his wife ‘dark colour’ cannot be convicted of instigating his wife to commit suicide.
According to the Justice M Sathyanarayanan of the High Court’s Madurai Bench, a man criticizing his wife for being dark is not harassment.
Allowing a petition filed by Paramasivam against a lower court order, Justice M Sathyanarayanan of the High Court’s Madurai Bench, had said, “Criticizing the wife for being dark in colour does not amount to harassment or torture, and it cannot be said that the husband instigated the wife to commit suicide.”
After being convicted and sentenced for seven years of imprisonment by a lower court in Tirunelveli District, in Tamil Nadu’s deep south, Paramasivam had then filed an appeal against the conviction and sentence in the High Court. He was also sentenced to three years imprisonment under the Dowry Harassment Act on October 27, 2006.
Bihar, September 20, 2017 : A mobile phone app is the latest tool for campaigners seeking to end child marriage in India’s Bihar state, where nearly two-thirds of girls in some of its rural areas are married before the legal age of 18.
The app, Bandhan Tod, was developed by Gender Alliance — a collective of more than 270 charities in Bihar focused on gender rights — and launched this week by Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi. It is backed by the U.N. Population Fund.
India ranks among countries with the highest rates of child marriage in the world, accounting for a third of the global total of more than 700 million women, according to UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency.
Bandhan Tod — meaning “break the binds” — includes classes on child marriage and dowries and their ill effects. It also has an SOS button that notifies the team when activated.
“The app is a big part of our efforts to end child marriage in the state,” said Prashanti Tiwary, head of Gender Alliance.
“Education is good, but when a young girl wants help because she is being forced to marry before the legal age, the app can be her way out,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Despite a law banning girls from marrying before they turn 18, the practice is deeply rooted in tradition and widely accepted in Indian society. It is rarely reported as a crime and officials are often reluctant to prosecute offenders.
While boys also marry before the legal age of 21, girls are disproportionately affected.
Risks of abuse, death rise
Early marriage makes it more likely that girls will drop out of school, and campaigners say it also increases risks of sexual violence, domestic abuse and death in childbirth.
Legal efforts have failed to break the stranglehold of tradition and culture that continues to support child marriage, charity ActionAid India said in a report this year.
When the SOS on Bandhan Tod is activated, the nearest small NGO will attempt to resolve the issue. If the family resists, then the police will be notified, said Tiwary.
A similar app in West Bengal state to report child marriage and trafficking of women and children has helped prevent several such instances, according to Child in Need Institute, which launched the app in 2015.
Other efforts include a cash incentive, where the state transfers a sum of money to the girl’s bank account if she remains in school and unwed at age 18.
Suppliers of wedding tents in Rajasthan state have stopped dozens of child marriages by alerting officials.
“It will take a change in mindset and behavior to end child marriage,” said Tiwary, who is lobbying the government to raise the marriage age for women to 21, so they have the same opportunities as men.
“But technology provides a practical and accessible way to help prevent it on the ground,” she said. (VOA)
Mr Modi lied to Indians when he spoke about minimum government, maximum governance
The expansion of maternity leave to 26 weeks for women who work in any establishment with more than ten employees
Mr Sabhlok emphasised that Swarna Bharat Party is not against longer maternity leave
New Delhi, September 3, 2017: Mr Sanjeev Sabhlok, a professional economist and Overseas Coordinator for Swarna Bharat Party, called upon the Modi government to abolish most labour laws, including minimum wage laws, laws restricting hiring and firing of labour and laws that set employment conditions, such as the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.
Mr Modi lied to Indians when he spoke about “minimum government, maximum governance”. Immediately upon coming to power, he has dramatically expanded the remit of government in every field.
The expansion of maternity leave to 26 weeks (for the first two children) for women who work in any establishment with more than ten employees has been a particularly damaging intervention. In a country with chronically high unemployment, this Tughlaquesque provision is going to put many young women out of jobs, depriving them of the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
Mr Sabhlok emphasised that Swarna Bharat Party is not against longer maternity leave. But this is a matter purely between employers and employees. Indeed, across the world, many companies voluntarily choose to implement strong maternity leave policies in order to attract and retain top female talent.
On the other hand, most jobs only require low-level skills. For such jobs, no employer can afford to pay half a year’s wages without any work. They will necessarily reject young women and hire male labour, instead. Or they will pay all women employees less. Moreover, we know that government inspectors’ bribe demands will increase.
The government must get out of the way and leave the people of India free to agree to their own wage bargains and other labour conditions as grown up adults. The only function a government has in relation to private employment contracts is to ensure strong enforcement of these contracts through the judiciary. A government has no business to set the terms of these contracts.
Mr Sabhlok said that the Modi government’s focus should be only on one thing: on the urgently needed governance reforms to provide basic rule of law, security and justice – as detailed in Swarna Bharat Party manifesto. He regretted that Mr Modi is even more wedded than his predecessors to the failed ideology of socialism and big government.
Child and forced marriage remain a common practice in Afghanistan, particularly among poor families in lure of dowries.
Young child brides of Islamist Taliban are denied educated and are often treated as sex slaves
After the death of their militant husbands, Taliban widows are shunned by their family and society alike and remain beyond the reach of government aids
London, August 24, 2017: Fatima’s Taliban husband was so controlling that he refused to allow her to bathe and threatened to burn her face if she dared wear makeup, suspicious that his 12-year-old Afghan wife was trying to make herself attractive to other men.
He would not let her step outside their home in Afghanistan’s western Farah Province, even when she fell sick, and beat her for burning her hand baking bread, complaining that her mother had taught her nothing to justify the dowry he paid.
“My father sold me to a man at a time when I didn’t know anything about the responsibilities of marriage,” she told Reuters in a phone interview from the capital, Kabul, where she and her young daughter are hiding.
“He became my lawful husband and began to rape me and beat me every single day for not consenting [to sex],” said the 18-year-old, who would not give her full name.
Child and forced marriage are outlawed but remain common in Afghanistan, particularly among poor families eager for dowries.
Among the most invisible victims are the wives of Islamist Taliban hardliners who, when in power, barred women from education and most work and ordered them to wear burqas outside the home, before being overthrown in 2001 by U.S.-led forces.
“Being family members of the most dangerous and ruthless fighters who have plenty of enemies among the people makes it difficult for these women,” said Shukria Barakzai, a parliamentarian and women’s rights campaigner. “They are treated as sex slaves and left completely helpless.”
When their militant husbands die, life often gets worse for young Taliban brides. Their families are too scared to take them in, society treats them as pariahs, and they risk further violent abuse as unprotected single women.
About a year into their marriage, Fatima’s 25-year-old husband — she calls him a “veteran criminal” with stockpiles of ammunition in their home — blew up a police officer and was jailed for 18 years.
He was released in late 2016, after serving just four years — a common phenomenon in Afghanistan, where the Taliban often hold influence over the government.
But he never came home.
His brothers told Fatima they believed he had sacrificed himself in a suicide attack and become a martyr.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, estimates that several hundred women become Taliban widows each year.
“My brother-in-law was planning to force me to marry him and sell my four-year-old daughter to a Taliban commander,” she said, referring to the dowry that would be paid for her child.
“This evil plan agonized me and at the same time emboldened me to run away, regardless of the consequences.”
Under the pretext of attending a village wedding with her mother-in-law, Fatima ran away with her child.
Her father would not take her in, but her cousins helped her get to Kabul.
“Every one of my in-laws is a Taliban member and they vowed to slay my whole family to bring justice,” she said.
To the Taliban, justice means killing Fatima and her family for the shame she brought by running away from home.
Jihadis in training
Zari, another Taliban widow, who was forcibly married at the age of 14, was not so lucky.
Three years after her husband died in a suicide attack, she remains trapped in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, tormented by his cousins who rape her repeatedly and are raising her sons, aged nine and 11, to become jihadis.
The men, who are members of the Taliban, come to the house where she lives with her elderly mother-in-law a couple of times a week to rape her, threatening to kill her if she tells anyone.
“I urge the government to rescue me and my sons as their future is in grave danger,” the 26-year-old, who declined to give her real name, said in a phone interview.
“They plan to send both of my sons to Pakistan to participate in jihad. … They take my elder son for religious indoctrination and training to become a militant like his father.”
Neither the government nor rights groups can access Taliban widows living with their in-laws in remote, rebel-controlled territory. Conflict makes it impossible for them to provide for themselves, forcing them to live with their in-laws.
Neither boy goes to school because Zari cannot afford books or uniforms with the money she earns weaving or from her cows.
“I want to escape with my sons, but my family is not ready to accept me and jeopardize themselves,” she said, adding that her family did not know they were marrying her into the Taliban.
Afghanistan has about 5 million widows, said a spokeswoman for the women’s affairs ministry, Kobra Rezai. It can only afford to provide about 100,000 of them with about $100 a month in financial support and skills training, she said.
None are Taliban widows.
The government does not want to be seen to be supporting them, Rezai said, a position condemned by Barakzai, the parliamentarian.
“Circumstances push [Taliban widows] into a precarious position and compel them to continue their lives as sex slaves in the hands of Taliban,” she said. “Even their children have no way out of this vicious trap.” (VOA)