Soumya Rape Case
On Thursday September 15, 2016 the Supreme Court passed the verdict on the Soumya rape and murder case that rocked the state of Kerala 5 years ago on February 1, 2011.
Soumya was travelling alone in the women’s compartment of the Ernakulam-Shoranur passenger train when she was attacked and she was later found in the forest near Vallathol station. She died at the hospital within 6 days of the incident.
In 2011, the accused Govindachamy, a beggar with only one arm, was convicted by a fast track court in Thrissur of the rape and murder of the victim and given a death sentence. This verdict was upheld by the High Court of Kerala. The Supreme Court in a recent hearing however, concluded that there was not enough evidence to convict him for the murder. While the life imprisonment sentence for the rape charge was upheld, the death penalty for the murder was commuted to a 7 year sentence. The new verdict shocked people across the state. Soumya’s mother was in tears when speaking to the media, “I will file a revision petition. I will continue to fight until I get justice. I will meet the Chief Minister and tell him my pain.”
How the defendant could afford a high profile lawyer like BA Aloor and how the prosecution failed to present a strong case despite having enough forensic evidence are questions being raised at the moment.
The barbaric practice of Made Snana
The Centre requested the Supreme Court to put an end to the made snana, a temple ritual practiced in parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu describing it as ‘inhuman’ and ‘superstitious’. As part of the ritual, Dalits are made to roll over the food leftover by Brahmins to rid themselves of diseases, ‘bad karma’ or any other causes of distress. In an affidavit released by the centre it states that the practice cannot be protected under Article 25, the right to freedom of religion because they stand in the way of “Constitutional value(s) of justice, equality and human dignity.”
Kashmiri activist held at airport
Despite having a valid visa and an invitation, Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvez was prevented from getting on a flight to Geneva from the Delhi Airport, to attend a session of the UN Human Rights Council. He was part of a delegation set to present the situation of Kashmir, particularly in the months following the death of Burhan Wani, to UN bodies. The airport officials informed him that they had orders from the Intelligence Bureau to detain him. The Government is yet to comment on why he was not allowed to go. This is the second incident in recent times where officials have tried to detain a citizen without specific charges, in a suspected attempt to curtail dissent or criticism of the government.
India at Paralympics
At the Paralympics in Rio this week, the Indian contingent won 2 more medals, raising the final tally to 4. Deepa Malik won a silver medal in the shot put event with her personal best of 4.61 meters, making her the first Indian woman to win a paralympic medal. Devendra Jhajhariya won gold for the javelin throw competition, setting a new world record of 63.97 meters. This is his second gold after Athens in 2004, making him the first Indian in history to win two gold medals at the event.
Amit Shah’s Onam Controversy
On the eve of Onam, Kerala’s harvest festival, National BJP chief Amit Shah wished the state a happy ‘Vamana Jayanthi‘ on Twitter. Vamana, being an avatar of Vishnu, this sparked outrage in the state with people accusing him of trying to introduce religion into an otherwise secular state-wide festival. People on Twitter argued that he was furthering the ‘right-wing agenda’ and missing the point of festival by not acknowledging the Asura King Mahabali, in whose name the day is actually celebrated. The Chief Minister also criticised Mr Shah and demanded an apology.
A Federal Court judge in Canada, Robin Camp is facing possible removal from his post for how he handled a rape case in 2014. A provincial judge at the time, in a clear case of victim blaming, he asked the woman why she couldn’t just keep her knees together.
The movie Pink directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, starring Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachan was released on Friday. It deals with our country’s legal and political system which is quick to blame women. Reviews suggest that the film handles the concepts of consent and victim blaming rather sensitively.
What we’re reading
The TM Krishna column: ‘I’m upper-caste and I’m proud of it – and that’s where the problem lies‘ via Scroll
On the Orientalist Savarna Perception of equating SIO with ABVP via Round Table India
Lionel Shriver’s full speech: ‘I hope the concept of cultural appropriation is a passing fad’ via The Guardian
This week in FII
Why Is All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s Defense Of Triple Talaq Very Problematic?
Navigating And Re-writing The Gendered Space In A Haveli
Book Review: ‘The Creation Of Patriarchy’ By Historian Gerda Lerner
Kerala’s Casteist Breast Tax And The Story Of Nangeli
The Auratnaak Comedy Show: Pakistani Women Roast Patriarchy On Stage
Featured Image Credit: AFP File Photo