Saturday December 16, 2017
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Criminalisation of marital rape: A mango man’s take on it

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Picture credit: newsx.com

By Sreyashi Mazumdar

While bidding adieu to her daughter, tears streaming down her eyes, she said, “Dear, do not go against your in-laws despite unsound circumstances, bear with whatever they say and ask you to do. Look after your husband’s needs, do not refute his commands, his well-being should be your penultimate goal,” and her newly -wed daughter baulking to leave her bonds, gradually trails down a road, heading to a strange alley, tangling with a completely different lifestyle.

Hesitant she was, but as his better half held her hands, unraveling an implicit intent of never forsaking her, they set off on a newfangled journey and lived happily ever after.

Picture credit: hunffingtonpost.com
Picture credit: hunffingtonpost.com

But, what if this wouldn’t have been the case? What if he would have turned out to be a demon? What if his carnality would have bereaved her of her sanity? What if the tears trailing down her eyes while leaving her parents would have embarked on a never-ending journey? What if she would have been raped within the four walls of her so-called ‘heavenly abode’…by her better half…her husband?

Considered as one of the sanctimonious institutions, Marriage has always been a hot potato amongst Indians, they say- Shaadi ka laddu khao toh pachtao aur na khao toh bhi pachtao (You will repent if you get married, and you will repent even if you don’t get married).

Holier-than-thou, this institution celebrates the union of two individuals; individuals who might have never known each other as in the case of arrange marriages and when individuals might have known each other for a considerable stint as in the case of love marriages.

However, the entire gamut of marriage is not just constricted to the big fat Indian weddings and the subsequent brouhaha it involves, but it also brings forth a string of issues, ranging from dowry to marital rapes.

Picture credit: thepalladium.ph

“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors e.g. level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament, etc,” Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, minister of state for home affairs, said in a written statement.

Now, Haribhai’s statement might have bamboozled millions but there are people who still think that marriage being a consecrated institution, shouldn’t be rebutted, one shouldn’t challenge its sanctity despite issues like domestic violence, marital rapes creeping into the matrimony.

Trailing on a myriad of opinions flocking in, especially with the kind of deliberations on the issue of marital rape being put up on news channels, NewsGram conducted a vox populi and tried to collate public opinion on the same.

“Personally I believe marital rape should be made illegal. If marriage is a legally binding contract, then all acts within marriage should also come under the scrutiny of the law,” says Devjani Bodepudi, a writer.

Tuning in to a similar line of thought, 55-year-old Atashi Chatterjee fleshed out her views, “A wife confides in her husband; she looks up to her husband and relies on him completely. If the husband forces himself on her despite her unwillingness, then that’s nothing less than rape; the wife inevitably gets subjected to a psychological trauma, a mental block. I think it’s high time that a person committing such a hideous crime should be penalized.”

Taking a slightly different note, a lawyer at a OICL Devpurna Talapatra brought forth the probability of the law being misused if marital rape gets a legal recognition, “It’s easy and righteous to say that yes, of course, marital rape should be criminalized right away, but the probability of it not being accessible to its target group and rather being misused makes one wonder. Mooting on the same, she added, “It is yet another one of the necessary risks we have to accommodate for the greater good, much like the often debated Section 498A.”

Picture credit: adaring.com
Picture credit: adaring.com

Vexed by the usual male bashing, 40-year-old Anwar Hussain talks of the probability of a husband being raped by his wife, “It’s not always the husband who forces himself on his wife, there are incidents where the wife forces herself on her husband or rapes him – if that’s how we choose to define it. Therefore, it shouldn’t be all male bashing.”

“Marital rape should be penalized but do you really think that would solve the problem?” asks newly-wed Bramhomoy Bose, an employee at an IT firm. “How will a woman prove her stand under circumstances wherein her husband passes of forceful sex as a conjugal sex?” he wonders.

Scrolling through these opinions one might ponder upon the brutality and a sense of helplessness attached to the issue of marital rape, but the entire ambit of the issue doesn’t boil down to a mere black and white inference.

Lampooning the perpetrators isn’t the only solution; one requires digging into the deeply entrenched retrograde mindset borne by the people. It seems that our hidden carnal instincts are traversing the unconscious and subconscious layers of our minds and gradually creeping into the conscious, thereby spilling out snippets of barbarism.

One has to pull the plug on the parochial ideologies, generally, borne by individuals and strive to refurbish the same. Cracking down upon the root cause propelling inhumanity might bring forth a relevant change, thus putting an end to any form of violence.

Some tweets on marital rape, people mooting their point on social media

 

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One out of Two Children face Child Sexual Abuse: The Growing Problem of Child Sexual Abuse in India

A recent survey by World Vision India reveals that 50% children have faced sexual abuse in India

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  • One out of two children in India face child sexual abuse.
  • The perpetrators of sexual abuse among children are often close to them and trusted by the family.
  • The children from economically backward families are often trafficked and abused.
  • Information, awareness and communication are important tools for handling sexual abuse among children.

Child sexual abuse and child trafficking are rapidly festering problems in India, as a recent survey by World Vision India reveals that out of 45,844 children interviewed, almost half of them have been subjected to sexual abuse. The alarming statistics which indicate the unsafe circumstances faced by children also pose a glaring question: how do we know when a child has been abused?

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Child sexual abuse is one of the least addressed issues in India, because of the taboo and the social stigma associated with it. Most children who have been abused refuse to disclose their discomfort out of shame and fear of punishment, as in most cases, the perpetrators of the child sexual abuse are persons who are explicitly trusted by the family. According to a survey conducted by the Government of India in 2007, the sexual abuse of children occurs mostly between the ages of 5 and 12, when they are unable to articulate their pain, as they lack the basic training to discriminate between affection and abuse.

Children engaged in labour are often trafickked and sexually abused.
Stock images, Wikipediar

Child trafficking in India

The problem of child sexual abuse in India among children is further intensified by the issue of child trafficking, as many economically backward families with multiple children often engage their children in labour, in an effort to earn their daily subsistence. The children employed in illegal labour are often trafficked away from their homes and even outside the country, where they become victims of child sexual abuse. The education system in India, which is often inaccessible to the children of the underdeveloped sections of the society, also become victims of child trafficking, as they lack the awareness and the information which might protect them from child sexual abuse.

Children engaged in labour are often trafickked and sexually abused
Stock image, Wikipedia

How to combat child sexual abuse

The main weapons in the battle against sexual abuse among children are communication and awareness. Once children learn to identify potential sexual predators, necessary steps may be adopted to ensure their safety and security. The development of a ‘safe space’ for children, where they may confide in adults without the fear of judgement or persecution might encourage them to disclose their concerns, which might help in the identification of potential threats which may hamper their wellbeing.
“Despite one in every two children being a victim of child sexual abuse, there continues to be a huge silence. The magnitude of sexual violence against children is unknown,” states Cherian Thomas, the Director of World Vision India, claiming that one out of four families do not lodge complaints regarding cases of child sexual abuse. The unwillingness to engage in conversations regarding the growing menace of sexual abuse and trafficking among children also pose a major problem while combating with issues that threaten the safety of children. “I feel it is time that we all come under one banner and umbrella to focus our work around child protection,” said Cherian, encouraging parent-child conversation regarding sexual violence, as a measure to combat the prevalence of such crimes.

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Veerappan: India’s most wanted

Veerappan was hunted by the police for over four decades, making it the longest man-hunt in India

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Veerappan was a smuggler, poacher, murderer and extortionist who was killed in Operation Cocoon
Veerappan in his heyday, He was killed via Operation Cocoon
  • Veerappan was a smuggler of ivory and sandalwood in the southern states of India.
  • He killed government officials and civilians alike when they tried to stop his illegal activities.
  • He died in October 2004 during ‘Operation Cocoon’, which was carried out by a Special Task Force.

Poaching, smuggling, extortion, smuggling, brigandry, murder — these are some of the few charges against Koose Munisamy Veerappan Gounder, popularly known as Veerappan, for whom was constituted India’s largest manhunt, on which the government spent around 1.5 million Rupees. From his childhood, narratives about the elusive dacoit were laced with fiction, as he became an object of myth when he was only ten years old, and had infamously shot his first tusker elephant for ivory. His notoriety became a national concern when the government banned ivory trade in India, and he began felling trees for precious sandalwood, thus beginning a period marred by Veerappan killing government officials and locals alike when they became an obstacle.

Veerappan unleashed a reign of terror on the southern states of India from the early 1980s till his death in 2004; during which Veerappan killing police officers and civilians alike caused a nationwide uproar. In 1990, the notorious smuggler had beheaded a forest officer K. Srinivas, which wasn’t recovered until three years later. In 2000, he had kidnapped the Kannada actor K. Rajkumar, whose release was negotiated through Nakkeeran editor Gopal, to whom the infamous poacher admitted to murdering as many as 120 people. Matters came to a head when   abducted the former Karnataka minister H. Nagappa in 2002, and killed him when his demands were not met.

Operation Cocoon:

Veerappan leading his gang in moily forest,
Veerappan leading his gang in Moily forest. Wikimedia

A Special Task Force or STF was constituted for the capture of Veerappan in 1991, which, headed by K. Vijay Kumar, launched Operation Cocoon in 2004, which finally resulted in Veerappan’s death. Kumar, aided by his previous experience with Veerappan, based Operation Cocoon on human intelligence and interaction, during which multiple STF personnel blended in with the locals in areas frequented by Veerappan. The initial stages of Operation Cocoon consisted of gaining the trust of Veerappan’s associates, till they started divulging details about his failing health. In the years before his death, the elusive outlaw seemed to have lost much of his vigour and vitality, as he suffered from diabetes, and a cataract had almost blinded him in one eye.
On 18th October, 2004, the police lured Veerappan out of familiar terrains in an ambulance, and apprehended him at a roadblock, where he was killed in the crossfire between his team and the STF, via three bullets. The photographs after Veerappan’s demise show him in a pathetic light, bereft of his signature handlebar moustache, and the agility which had facilitated his escape for over four decades.

There have been a lot of controversies regarding his death, as many media houses and activists have claimed that Operation Cocoon has derived Veerappan of a fair trial by law. Some have even claimed that he was tortured to death in police custody. The facts regarding the elusive sandalwood smuggler remain inconclusive even after a decade of his death, due to the lack of concrete evidence.

 

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Bhai Boolchand-the Indian who launched trade with Ghana

The first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast (Ghana's colonial name) in 1890 , Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana

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Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana.
Ghanian flag, Bhai Boolchand launched trade in India with Ghana. pixelbay
  • Bhai Boolchand, the anonymous Indian, is credited with starting trade between Ghana and India
  • The year was 1890.

Not much is known about him, but it has now emerged that trade relations between Ghana and Indiawere started by Bhai Boolchand, the first Indian to arrive in the Gold Coast — Ghana’s colonial name — in 1890. That’s some 67 years before the British colonial government granted the country independence, research by the Indian Association of Ghana has found.

“As far as our records show, Bhai Boolchand (of the Bhaiband Sindhworki trading community), landed on the shores of the Gold Coast in western Africa in 1890. Nearly twenty years later, in 1919, the first Sindhi company was established by two brothers — Tarachand Jasoomal Daswani and Metharam Jasoomal Daswani,” the Indian Association said.

The duo opened a store — Metharam Jassomal Brothers — in the then capital city of Cape Coast in 1919.

“Their business flourished and branches were opened in Accra and Kumasi. A few years later, the two brothers separated and whilst Bhai Metharam Jasoomal continued the business as Metharam Brothers, Tarachand Jasoomal operated his business as Bombay Bazaar. These were the first two Indian companies that were established in the Gold Coast,” the Association said.

Boolchand’s arrival, therefore, pre-dates the historical links between the two countries that were always thought to have started between Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkruman, and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Boolchand can thus be described as the one who paved the way for the arrival of other members of the Sindhi community, initially as traders and shopkeepers.

The Indian Association said more of this group arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, with a few venturing into manufacturing industries such as garments, plastics, textiles, insecticides, electronics, pharmaceuticals and optical goods.

The Association said two more Indian firms were established under the names of Lilaram Thanwardas and Mahtani Brothers in the 1920s. This trend continued in the 1930s and 1940s with the creation of several more Indian companies like T. Chandirams, Punjabi Brothers, Wassiamal Brothers, Hariram Brothers, K. Chellaram & Sons, G. Motiram, D.P. Motwani, G. Dayaram, V. Lokumal, and Glamour Stores.

Glamour Stores, which was stared by Ramchand Khubchandani who arrived in Ghana in 1929, has grown — after changing its name to Melcom Group — to become the largest retailing business in the country. The Melcom Group, headed by Ramchand’s son Bhagwan Khubchandani, is now in its 60th year and about 40 stores all over the country.

Ramchand and his brother later went into garment manufacturing in 1955 and once employed over 1,200 Ghanaians. They later opened the first Indian restaurant, Maharaja, in Ghana. Bhagwan followed in his father’s footsteps and in 1989 established the Melcom Group with his sons-in-law, Mahesh Melwani and Ramesh Sadhwani.

Another Indian-owned company that has survived through the years is the Mohanani Group, which is currently in its 51st year. At the first-ever Ghana Expatriate Business Awards, the Ministry of Trade and Industries recognised the work of one of the thriving Indian-owned B5 Plus Steel Company and awarded it the Best Expatriate Company in the metal and steel category.

As these companies brought in new expatriate staff, some left their employers to venture out on their own — resulting in more companies opening up.

“After 1947, the Gold Coast attracted the attention of some Indian multinational companies, and big names like Chanrai, Bhojsons, K.A.J. Chotirmal, Dalamals and A.D. Gulab opened branches in Ghana,” the Association said.

“The employment of Ghanaians by these founding companies also helped to lessen the burden of unemployment in the country. This amply demonstrates the level of commitment India has in the developmental agenda of Ghana,” it said.

Indians are not only investing in the manufacturing and commercial sectors of the country; they are also investing in the financial sector. Bank of Baroda, one of India’s biggest and most reputable banks, recently established a branch in Ghana and hopefully it will expand its operations in other parts of the country very soon. (IANS)