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India protects the Rights of vulnerable groups and is strengthening Laws for their Welfare

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Geneva/New Delhi, May 4, 2017: India on Thursday said that it protects the rights of vulnerable groups and is strengthening laws for their protection and welfare.

“In all its policies, India seeks to ensure inclusive development and the protection of rights of vulnerable groups,” Mukul Rohatgi said while speaking at the Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of India at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

“We have enacted a range of laws to address sexual assault and other gender-based crimes. We have overhauled the legal framework for dealing with child sexual assault,” Rohatgi said.

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The UPR was created through the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006, by resolution 60/251, which established the UNHRC itself.

The UPR is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN member-states.

Speaking further on child protection, the Attorney General said, “To better protect children from exploitative conditions and to ensure that they have freedom, dignity and opportunity, the National Child Policy, 2013 has put in place a rights- based policy framework for addressing children’s needs.”

Putting across the Indian stand on rights of minorities, he said, “Safeguarding the rights of minorities forms an essential core of our polity. The Indian Constitution enshrines various provisions for the protection of the rights and interest of the minorities.”

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Speaking on the Indian efforts towards combating human trafficking, he said that, “To comprehensively address issues relating to human trafficking, the Government is in advanced consultations with stakeholders on a new Anti-Human Trafficking Bill.”

“India has been at the forefront of recognizing the equal rights of transgender persons,” Rohatgi said and added that transgenders are “entitled to affirmative action benefits.”

“The Court also reinforced that they should have all rights under law, including marriage, adoption, divorce, succession and inheritance.”

Replying to the concerns pertaining to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Rohatgi said that this Act is applied only to disturbed areas dealing with exigent circumstances like terrorism.

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 “These areas are very few and in proximity to some international borders.”

Highlighting the inherent checks in AFSPA against any immunity to security forces, Rohatgi said, “Recently, the Court held that the armed forces cannot use excessive force in the course of the discharge of their duties under the Act, which does not allow blanket immunity for perpetrators of unjustified deaths or offences.”

He also talked about the Accessible India Campaign which address the special needs of persons with disabilities.

On the status of freedom of speech in the country, the top law officer said, “As the world’s largest multi-layered democracy..Our people are conscious of their political freedoms and exercise their choices at every opportunity.”

UPR is a state-driven process, under the auspices of the UNHRC, which provides the opportunity for each state to declare what actions have been taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi is leading the Indian delegation which also comprises Ruchi Ghanashyam, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Ministry, P.S. Patwalia, Additional Solicitor General of India, and senior officials from the External Affairs, Home, Women and Child Development, Social Justice and Empowerment, Minority Affairs, Rural Development Ministries and the NITI Aayog. India’s first UPR was reviewed in 2008 and the second in 2012. (IANS)

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Jaipur Literature Festival Takes A Questionable Stand On The #MeToo Movement

JLF's fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned.

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The hushed whispers are getting louder. Flickr

After several star speakers of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, including C.P. Surendran, Suhel Seth and Chetan Bhagat, among others, have been accused of sexually harassing multiple women, on the sidelines of the popular lit fest, the organisers, in a cautiously worded one-sentence tweet on Thursday, have supported the rising tide of the #MeToo campaign in India — but questions still remain.

“The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival unequivocally stands by the women who have courageously spoken out for equity and dignity and is committed to supporting and amplifying their voices,” the official handle of the JLF said in a tweet on Thursday.

The statement came two days after a petition was started on www.change.org by writer-editor Rajni George, asking its organisers to support the #MeToo India and stand up “against sexual harassment”.

#MeToo
Jaipur Literature Festival

“We write today regarding the serious and credible allegations of sexual harassment made recently against a number of men in and around the literary world, as part of the MeToo movement in India.

“We, the undersigned, are dismayed, saddened and angered by these accounts. We admire the work that the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) undertakes. As India’s largest and most recognised literature festival, we believe JLF is ideally placed to take the lead in addressing this urgent issue,” George’s petition said.

JLF’s response in the one-line tweet is general, and does not specifically mention whether any of the allegations that have now surfaced were earlier brought to the notice of the organisers.

It also does not make it clear whether the doors of the festival will remain closed for the accused in its future editions, or not. It further makes no comment whatsoever on several instances that are said to have taken place on the sidelines of the annual event.

#MeToo
Sanjoy K. Roy, with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore.

Notably, many of the accused have featured in prominent sessions at what is described as the “greatest literary show on Earth”, and, in many instances, the festival has been instrumental in increasing their popularity as well as readership.

On its part, JLF, produced by Teamwork Arts, headed by Sanjoy K. Roy, and with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore. In fact, the 2018 edition of the festival in January this year had come to a close with a hard-hitting debate on #MeToo, long before the campaign gained momentum in India.

Also Read: Watch Jaipur Literature Festival Live On Twitter

Many in the literary circles feel the benchmark that JLF has itself set over the course of its journey, its coming of age and gradual but distinct shift from controversies to substance in the recent years, its fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned. (IANS)