Sex, Sex Education & Sex Workers

In a significantly appalling act of “moral policing”, the Mumbai police rounded up 40-odd consenting adult couples from private hotel rooms and charged them with “public indecency. Some of them were slapped, all of them were made to call their parents, and were fined Rs. 1200 each before they were let go off 5 hours later. The fact that this particular incident could happen to any single adult in India makes it all the more terrible.

A 11-year-old girl from Thane in Maharashtra realised that she had been raped by two people on different occasions when her teacher imparted sex education lessons at a school. Two years ago, one of the accused took her to his room and raped her. However, the girl never realised what exactly happened until she attended a sex education class at school, after which she narrated the incident to her teacher. The teacher immediately filed a police complaint.

The Delhi Commission for Women Chief, Swati Maliwal equated sex work to rape and called sex work a “blot” in the society. She also added to this by saying that “Six lakh condoms means six lakh rapes we are allowing in Delhi”, while referring to condoms being distributed in G B Road (which happens to be Delhi’s red light area). The National Network of Sex Workers and other women’s rights organisations have demanded an unconditional apology from her to all sex workers.

Death Penalty

The Tripura assembly passed a private members’ resolution proposing that the Centre be asked to replace the death penalty with lifetime imprisonment. The Chief Minister, Manik Sarkar also added, “The fundamental right to life and the death penalty are contradictory. ”

Legislation & Those Who Make Legislation

The Delhi government convened a special session in the assembly to focus on issues related to women’s safety. This happened as a result of a 19 year old girl in Delhi stabbed to death by her stalkers in the midst of people. Though this session was appreciated as a good move, women right groups and activists pointed out that the AAP government’s approach to issues of women’s safety & security is still patriarchal. “It is not just about more surveillance, cameras and simply more policemen on the streets. The concept of women’s security involves generating more employment facilities, right to food, right to education, better wages, equality, economic empowerment, etc.,” stated Centre for Struggling Women activist Maya John.

The Delhi government has proposed a draft law that seeks to provide an administrative system to implement women’s rights and redress legal grievances. The bill empowers the women’s commission to provide legal aid and information to any woman to pursue her rights under the act. Currently, it has invited comments from civil society, lawyers and members of the judiciary.

In yet another move that once again puts the responsibility on women rather than on society, the centre has asked mobile phone manufacturers to install a panic button on all handsets keeping in mind “women’s safety.” However, no one is talking about how trained will the police personnel accessing this emergency be. Also, how will the survivor get any support considering that the one stop crisis centres are still a distant dream?

The editorial staff of the Lok Sabha TV, which is operated and owned by Lok Sabha, recently met speaker Sumitra Mahajan and discussed how the security of women employees of Lok Sabha TV was completely ignored by law makers themselves. The staff highlighted the problems of an anchor, who was told that her services were not required after she pointed to the lack of security for women employees returning home late from work. The meeting seemed fruitful since the Speaker has directed the Lok Sabha Secretariat to provide foolproof transport facility to women staff working in Lok Sabha television (LSTV) during late shifts.

More Violence Against Women and Atheist Bloggers

Five women were killed in a village in Jharkhand, 45 kilometres from the capital Ranchi, on allegations of witchcraft. Among those killed is a 45-year-old woman named Ittwari Khalko who had been living in the village for a long time. Killings on the suspicion of witchcraft have a fairly high occurrence in Jharkhand and in the past, many such instances have come to light in the state.

A man harassed and molested a woman in Mumbai’s local, while she was travelling to Churchgate. He jumped off the train before he could be caught. The woman hasn’t filed a complaint yet because her parents refused to let her to do so. She said she didn’t want to speak about the incident again.

A Bangladeshi blogger known for his atheist views has been hacked to death by a gang armed with machetes in the capital Dhaka. Niloy Neel is the fourth secularist blogger to have been killed this year by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh.

Some Good News, More Bad News

Londoner Kiran Gandhi decided to run the London Marathon without a tampon. Gandhi let her blood flow freely to raise awareness about women who have no access to feminine products and to encourage women to not be embarrassed about their periods.

The University Grants Commission’s (UGC) has asked colleges and universities to nominate a student as gender champion on campus. These students will be in charge of identifying gender bias in classrooms, and observe the reasons for gender inequality and suggest measures that would promote gender equality. While the UGC move may initiate changes from the top, much more may need to be done

The Supreme Court declined a plea seeking direction to chief ministers of seven states to consider inducting women in their council of ministers in conformity with the fundamental right to equality and against discrimination, saying it couldn’t ask the prime minister or any chief minister to do so even if it wanted.

A trainee IAS officer in Madhya Pradesh, Bafna had filed a sexual harassment complaint against a MP Human Rights Commission official for sending her lewd messages. “Idiots are lined up at every step,” Riju Bafna said in a post on Facebook that has since gone viral.

Featured Image Credit: India.com

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