Transgender Persons Bill

Recently, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment circulated a draft Cabinet note on the ‘Rights of Transgender Persons Bill, 2016’ to all ministries for their comments. The Bill provides recognition for trans* people before the law and offers reservation in education & government jobs under OBC quota (if the individual does not belong to the SC/ST community).

Under this new draft, apart from penalising offences that is derogatory to human dignity, wrongfully dispossessing a trans* individual from their land or premises and forcing or causing them to leave house, village or other place of residence is also an offence. The bill also proposes to constitute a National Council for Transgender Persons to advise central and state governments issues related to trans* people and to formulate specific schemes for their benefit.

Marital Rape & The Many U-Turns

The Women and Child Development Ministry now has yet another U-Turn in the debate about criminalising marital rape. After saying that the official response offered on March 10th (saying this – “It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors such as level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament.”) was a clerical error, the department went ahead and amended their response. They now said that marital rape happens and it should be taken seriously.

Soon after, Maneka Gandhi, Minister for Women & Child Development, followed this response up by saying, “We know it (marital rape) happens frequently. But women need to come and complain about this aspect of violence, and once there is enough data, the government could respond.

So, how exactly are the women going to complain if there is no law under which the complaint could be registered?

December 16, 2012 Gang Rape Case Court Hearing

The Supreme Court commenced final hearing on appeals of the four convicts who were charged with rape of a physiotherapy student on December 16, 2012. This incident sparked widespread protests, brought issues of women rights to the forefront, and finally culminated in the Nirbhaya Act, 2013. The Delhi High Court had upheld the trial court verdict of giving the rapists death sentence. The prime accused was found dead in his jail cell in 2013. The others now await proceedings & final verdict at the Supreme Court

Ramachandrapura Mutt Rape Case

Back in Aug 2014, a woman filed a rape case against Ramachandrapura Mutt seer, Raghaveshwara Bharathi. However, no action was taken by the police, which forced the woman to approach a women’s safety panel stating no action had been taken against the seer.

Finally in September 2015, the CID arrested this godman. But, he was let go off since he obtained a bail. In the meantime, the survivor & a few witnesses received threatening calls. A witness also has said that he received death threats from the followers of the seer. The survivor also filed a petition in the High Court of Karnataka, seeking transfer of her case to another court. In her petition, the singer alleged that the court was unfair towards her after the judge remarked that he would not permit the seer to undergo medical tests as directed by the police. In the meantime, the CID filed a charge sheet against the seer.

However, last week, a City Civil and Sessions judge has said in the order that that there was not enough material in the charge sheet filed by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), to conduct a trial against the seer. Basically, they aquitted the accused in the pre-trial stage itself. The CID intends to file an appeal against the discharge of Raghaveshwara, Members of women’s organisations have also appealed to the State government to appeal the decision in the High Court.

The Female Condom

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare launched India’s indigenously developed natural latex-based female condom which is the world’s most affordable female condom. While in the one launch picture we found, women were conspicuously absent, it is said that female condoms have the potential of allowing women more control over their bodies, STIs/STDs and reproductive choices.

What We’re Reading

With many celebrities joining in to give their ridiculous opinions about suicides and with media houses making suicide a means to entertain, read this article on how not to report a suicide. 

A pub in Hauz Khas Village (Delhi) refuses to serve women. Really.

An old, albeit appropriate comic to help you understand if you are empowered or objectified.

Why two adivasi women and an activist refused to ask for bail in Chhattisgarh.

Featured Image Credit: Minister for Women & Child Development, Maneka Gandhi | www.thefrustratedindian.com

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