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On Thursday, September 30, The Judicial Magistrate Court in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu agreed to the appeal of the Indian Air Force to hand over the accused in the alleged rape of a woman IAF officer. The case was brought to the public's notice when the complainant filed a report to the police and consequent arrest of the alleged IAF officer Amitesh. In her FIR, the complainant gives a detailed account of what happened on the night of assault as well as of the callous treatment and harassment she received from the authorities who she tried to reach out for help, she adds that she was even subjected to the banned two-finger test during the medical examination.
The survivor told the police that she was sexually assaulted by her colleague Amitesh Harmukh on the September 10th, she explained that she had sustained an injury on the evening of September 9th for which she was given some painkillers, later that evening she and her peers went to the Officers' Mess bar, where she had two drinks, one of which Amitesh had allegedly insisted on paying for. She felt nauseous and her coursemates took her to her room and put her to bed. She reports that later she remembers being woken up by the accused lieutenant, who had entered her room non-consensually; however, she told him she wanted to sleep and asked him to leave. Upon waking up the next morning, she was questioned by her friends and with the physical evidence, she discovered that she had been raped while unconscious.
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She reached out to her seniors and the authorities to file a complaint but instead of recording the survivor's complaint and offering support, one of the women Wing Commanders whom the survivor approached said that she should think about her family and their reputation. They gave her options to either file a complaint or give a written statement that it was consul sex for which she decided to file a complaint. The authorities asked her to go to the Air Force Hospital for the medical examination, where besides taking the vaginal swabs for the test she was subjected to the two-finger test which made her relive the trauma of the sexual assault, which she only found out later was banned 8 years ago. She was also confronted about her sexual history which is also illegal according to the protocols as these processes violate the victim's right to privacy. She accused the authority of misconduct as well as lousy treatment of the case as the test samples were not sent in even on the date of filing the FIR, i.e. September 20th.
After several attempts of her asking for help from the authorities, and being subjected to intimidation, threats instead of being given justice and support, she realized that the authorities are not going to help her while she suffers and the perpetrator roams freely instead of being punished. She finally decided to file a complaint to the police on September 17, 2021; however, due to the continued misguidance, she had to even go to the Police Commissioner's office on September 20 to file her complaint leading to the arrest of Amitesh.
The IAF officer was sexually assaulted while she was unconscious. istockphoto
Amitesh was held under police's custody until the 30th during which he filed an affidavit on September 25th citing Section 72 of the Indian Air Force Act, 1950; the accused said that the police had "no authority to arrest [him]. Even if the city police would have arrested him, the civil police have no authority to produce him before the Judicial Magisterial Court, Coimbatore, for remand into judicial custody. Moreover, as per Indian Air Force Act, 1950, the Court Martial, instituted to try the above offense has jurisdiction."
The court transferred Amitesh's custody back to the IAF for court-martial on 30th September. This decision came despite the survivor's demands for a police investigation, after alleged intimidation and harassment by the Air Force officials at the College where the alleged sexual assault took place, to dissuade the survivor from making a formal complaint. Amitesh was taken to Air Force Administrative College (AFAC) premises by IAF officials immediately. Amitesh's advocate and former special public prosecutor for the CBI, N. Sundaravadivelu said, "The custody is to be with Indian Air Force authorities and they will conduct the court-martial with regard to the alleged crime".
ALSO READ: The discourse of rape in India
The National Commission for Women on Thursday said it has raised its voice against the court's decision in a statement saying that it is '' .. utterly disappointed and strongly condemns the action of Indian Air Force doctors conducting the banned two-finger test on the victim, thereby violating the Supreme Court's decision and also violating the right to privacy and dignity of the victim.'' Expert opinions differ on the efficacy, transparency, and access to justice in a Court Martial, while some feel that a trial by Court Martial will lead to an expedient judgment, others worry that such cases would get lost in the military system, and a survivor would stand a better chance in a criminal court of law.
Keywords: Indian Air Force, sexual assault, court-martial, rape, judiciary, Section 72
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the 76th United Nations General Assembly on Saturday held in New York. Prime Minister Modi touched on various issues ranging from making nasal vaccines in India to making an indirect remark on Pakistan for using terrorism as a political tool. PM Modi also highlighted how India is the mother of all democracies and how strategically and effectively India has managed the Covid-19 pandemic. He made comments on the developments in Afghanistan and poverty alleviation.
India: Mother of democracy
In his address at the UNGA session, PM Modi said that for the last one and a half years the world has been facing the biggest global epidemic of the century. He further added that he represents the mother of all democracies, where there are dozens of languages, hundreds of dialects, and different lifestyles and cuisines. India is a shining example of a vibrant democracy and it is recognized for its diversity.
"Yes, democracy can deliver. Yes, democracy has delivered….When India grows, the world grows. When India reforms, the world transforms," Prime Minister Narendra Modi added during his address at the 76th UNGA.
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Manufacture Covid Vaccine India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address made efforts to make India a front-line fighter in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. He encouraged worldwide vaccine manufacturers to come to India and make vaccines in India, he said "I, today, invite vaccine manufacture around the world — come, make vaccines in India," He emphasized India's successfully developing the world's first DNA vaccine and added that the vaccine can be administered to anyone above the age of 12. The mRNA vaccine is in its final stage of development. India's scientists are working on developing a nasal vaccine for the coronavirus.
The mRNA vaccine is in its final stage of development. India's scientists are working on developing a nasal vaccine for the coronavirus.PTI
PM Modi put a spotlight on how India managed the "second wave" and emerged as part of the solution for the pandemic. When faced with the second wave India launched a plan "Vaccine Maitri" to reach the capitals with fewer resources at the time when other developed countries obstinately kept their borders closed. This improved India's image worldwide for its goodwill. Highlighting the government's latest decision of resuming the export of vaccines to the under-resourced countries Pm Modi said, "Understanding its responsibility towards humanity, India has once again started giving the vaccine to the needy in the world."
Criticized Pakistan and China
PM Modi referred to the issue regarding the "origin of the Covid virus" aka China and the cancellation of the World Bank's "Ease of Doing Business Index", pointing towards China for lack of transparency in the global institutions. Turning towards Pakistan he argued, "...Countries with regressive thinking that are using terrorism as a political tool needs to understand that terrorism is an equally big threat for them. It has to be ensured that Afghanistan isn't used to spread terrorism or launch terror attacks..."
Protect our oceans
70% of the earth is water, oceans being a massive part of it. PM Modi added on making optimal use of oceans as a life resource. "Our oceans are also the lifeline of international trade. We must protect them from the race for expansion. The international community must speak in one voice to strengthen a rule-based world order," he added in his address at the 76th UNGA session.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke on the climate crisis, his speech can be seen as an effort based on evidence to transform India's image on an international platform for crisis management.
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- Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the Indian Space Association (ISpA) on October 11 through video conferencing wherein he will also interact with representatives of the Space Industry on the landmark occasion. - NewsGram - Lens to India from Abroad ›
The Congress has asked the government to spell out a roadmap for exiting the lockdown two days ahead of the expiry of lockdown-3 and following Prime Minister Modi seeking the states’ suggestions for lifting the restrictions.
“Where is the national exit plan,” asked Manish Tewari, Congress spokesperson on Friday.
“India announced a lockdown when the case count was 181 and now when you are lifting the lockdown, the number of cases has crossed 80,000. India is the first country apart from the US to be doing so,” said Tewari.
He said when the government can announce putting into effect the miscellaneous clause in the Disaster Management Act, then it can also come out with the exit plan.
“The Prime Minister is playing a unique game as he announced lockdown; and now when things are out of hands, then the onus is put on the states to suffer the wrath of people. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too has put the onus of migrants on the states,” said Tewari.
The Congress said since states have to face people, no government can allow anarchy. “Therefore, states should be given more flexibility.”
The party has been questioning the exit strategy and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked the party chief ministers to press the Centre for a roadmap.
Former party president Rahul Gandhi has emphasized that states should be consulted on zone categorization. He has asserted that the opening of the economy should be left to the states as they know better about the supply chain.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address on Tuesday said that coronavirus is a reality. He hinted that lockdown 4.0 would be “totally different.”
The PM has also said in a video conference with Chief Ministers that as the country moves ahead, the economic activities that have been restarted would gain steam. He also asked state governments to ensure that rural India remains free from the Covid-19 crisis.
The Chief Ministers who couldn’t make themselves heard during the video conference on Monday were told to send their suggestions by May 15.
Though Maharashtra, Punjab, West Bengal and Telangana insisted on extending the current lockdown, some other states such as Delhi wanted greater freedom to open the economy, except in the containment zones. (IANS)
Cameroon is commemorating International Mother Language Day, February 21, by launching what it calls an ambitious program to save its endangered national languages.
The central African state has over 260 national languages, but only 40 are taught in schools. Cameroonians speak mostly French and English, which are foreign but official languages and part of an entrenched separatist conflict that has cost about 3,000 lives since 2017.
At the multilingual and inclusive government primary school Yaounde, 150 children between the ages of five and 11 years old learn how to count in Ewondo, a Cameroon national language spoken in the country’s central and southern regions. The students are also taught the national anthem and patriotic songs in Cameroon national languages.
Businessman Emmanuel Mbom, 31 years old, says he is satisfied at the progress made by his six-year old son at the school.
“In my situation, my wife and I speak two different languages, native languages so my children try to pick what they can pick,” Mbom said.
Mbom says he is confused about which language to teach his children because his language is Sawa, spoken in the Littoral and Southwest regions of Cameroon, and his wife is from the Northwestern town of Nkambe, where the Limbum language is spoken.
Cameroon’s secretary of state in the ministry of basic education, Asheri Kilo, says she is satisfied with the level of interest the children display at speaking their national language.
“It is very impressive the way the children are taken into learning their languages, and I decided to check how many children are from other regions rather than Yaounde and I figured that there were children from all the 10 regions in Cameroon,” she said.
Cameroon has 260 national languages spoken by an estimated 25 million people in the 10 regions of the country. It is one of the countries the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) classifies as a distinctive cultural density on the linguistic map of the world.
However, the central African state inherited two foreign languages from its French and English colonial masters as official languages, with 80 percent of the population speaking French and 20 percent English.
Fabienne Freeland, director general of the nongovernmental organization Summer Institute of Linguistics that helps Cameroon in promoting the teaching and learning of its national languages, says the official languages have not been effective tools of communication.
“French and English has its limits on development in this country,” Freeland said. “When there was a cholera outbreak in the far north, it is only when the information started coming in Fufulde that people started changing behavior and the cholera was stopped.”
Cameroon’s national institute of statistics reports that four percent of the central African states’ local languages — including the Mbiame language spoken in the country’s English-speaking Northwest Region and the Ekung language in the South — have disappeared since 1950. Ten percent of the 260 languages are neglected and seven percent are threatened.
Seraphine Ben Boli, who heads the program to promote the use of Cameroon national languages, says a pilot program that is being implemented in the 10 regions of the country to save the remaining mother tongues from disappearing.
She says the ministry of basic or elementary education is experimenting with the teaching of five national languages in 43 schools throughout Cameroon. The languages chosen, for now, are Ewondo, Bassa, Douala, Womala and Fufulde, because of their national popularity. She says apart from the experimental schools, teachers in all educational establishments have received instructions and training to teach Cameroon national languages spoken in the areas where their schools are found.
Boli said Cameroon will decide by 2030 on which of the languages can be used as an official language, added to English and French. She said by so doing, they intend to solve the separatist crisis that has within the past four years claimed at least 3,000 lives just because people are divided as a result of two inherited colonial languages.
Separatists have been fighting to create an English-speaking state out of the French-speaking majority. The separatists say the education, legal system and cultural practices they inherited from their British colonial masters are different from those left by the French, who colonized the French-speaking regions of the country. Cameroon believes by having its own national language as an official language, many of its citizens will feel like Cameroonians, unlike in the past when they considered themselves either French or English.
UNESCO says it celebrates mother tongue day because it believes in the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity for sustainable societies and it is within its mandate for peace that it works to preserve the differences in cultures and languages that foster tolerance and respect for others. (VOA)