Shukreya Saudi Arabia for giving 30 lashes to man for slapping his wife!

saudi flag

Riyadh: A Saudi man who slapped his wife has earned himself a flogging and jail sentence, in a rare ruling in the Gulf kingdom that imposes stiff restrictions on women, a local newspaper reported on Wednesday. 

A court in the town of Safwa, in the eastern Qatif district, sentenced the man to 10 days in jail and 30 lashes, Al-Sharq daily said.

The judge also allowed the woman to attend the flogging and ordered her husband to enrol in a course on dealing with partners.

The woman, in her twenties, had lodged a complaint against her husband after he slapped her during an argument. The man admitted hitting her, saying his wife “was rude to his parents.”

The ruling is very uncommon in the ultra-conservative kingdom, where men usually get the upper hand, while women are dependent on their male guardians in most aspects of their lives.

Women need a close male relative to accompany them if they enter government buildings and courts.

Saudi women also are banned from driving and are obliged to cover themselves from head to toe when they are in public.

The King Khalid Foundation, which is a Saudi charity, launched in May the kingdom’s first anti-domestic violence advertising campaign.

LINK

I think this is what they must do in India where women beating and rape seems to be the rule rather than the exception!

Live Encounters Magazine April 2013

Live Encounters Magazine April 2013

–          Profiting from Pain – Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab takes on Roche in India Kalyani Menon-Sen. Trastuzumab is an effective drug for treatment of breast cancer.

–          Mama, don’t cut my vagina – Female Genital Mutilation over 180,000,000 little girls and women affected. Always performed by grandmothers, mothers and other women. Implements – Razor blades, pieces of cut glass, tin can covers, scissors and even in modern clinics!

–          Nothing’s Fair, a poem by Irish Poet & Playwright, Terry McDonagh

–          Chris Hedges, Pulitzer prize winner, journalist and author, writes on How to Think.

–          South African/Zimbabwean, Catherine Jane Birch, author of KORO speaks to Mark Ulyseas.

–          Ivo Coelho, Priest and Philosopher, exclusive article – Faith and Religion

–          Magic in Stone – Ancient Rock Carvings of Goa – Randhir Khare.

–          Ancient Food Forges Arab-Jewish Friendships – Natalie Wood

–          Human Rights Watch – Child and Forced marriages in South Sudan

–          Candess M Campbell, Entering Trance for Self Healing

This is not Iran it is Israel!

irac
L to R : 01.This one is outside the main shopping mall that is used by both secular and religious Israelis.Welcome to the Haredi Shopping Center Customers are required to respect the feelings of the residents that are faithful God and his Torah. And to wear modest dress. This includes: Closed blouses with long sleeves, long skirts, no pants, no tight or revealing dress.” 02. This one is on one of the main thoroughfare.”Women passing through this neighborhood are required to dress modestly. Including: Closed blouses with long sleeves, long skirts, no pants, and no tight or revealing dress”. 03. This sign is outside a synagogue on the main street. “Women are requested not to loiter in front of the synagogue.”

I just received this in the mail from Anat Hoffman of Irac.org. The Haredi are no better than the Mullahs. This is shameful and all self respecting Israelis must stop this….

Dear Mark,

Have you ever been in a restaurant and seen a sign reading “No shirt, No shoes, No service”? If you feel that this dress code is strict, imagine living in Beit Shemesh, where women are intimidated while walking on public streets if their clothes do not conform to a strict interpretation of modesty. A group of Orthodox women from Beit Shemesh found this situation intolerable and they came to IRAC for legal help.

Representing several of these women, last week we filed a lawsuit against the city of Beit Shemesh, claiming that city authorities have allowed a small but extreme sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews to act as a “modesty police” against the city’s residents. The suit centers on street signs that were put up in public places telling women they can only enter wearing “proper dress” and a description of the kind of dress that is considered proper. City officials, including the ultra-Orthodox mayor of Beit Shemesh, have so far refused to intervene and act against the radical group behind these signs, thereby giving the signs tacit approval.

It is important to understand that the four women we are representing, and the many other women who have come to us about this issue, are not radical non-conformists. They are modest Orthodox women in every sense. The stories they told us about being afraid to walk down the street for fear of men hurling insults or worse at them was heartbreaking. It is hard to fully express the level of intimidation these women are feeling.

We are suing the city for not taking steps to remove these offensive signs and we are seeking significant damages (25,000 shekels) for emotional distress on behalf of each of the women named in the case. It is our hope that the sting of Israel’s justice system will remind the officials in Beit Shemesh of their responsibilities to protect all residents.

The views of this extreme group represent neither the majority of Israelis, nor the majority of Orthodox Jews, but they hold a disproportionate amount of power because hardly anybody else besides these brave women and IRAC are pushing back or providing help against this kind of religious coercion.  .

This case accentuates how important it is for Israel to have a government that represents all its citizens. Prime Minster Netanyahu has asked for a two-week extension in forming a government. We need to keep the pressure on him to fill his cabinet with moderates. Click here to email the Prime Minister and send him that message.

L’shalom,
Anat Hoffman
Executive Director, IRAC

PS: Click here to see pictures of the signs in question

Back to top

Action Alert: Write the Prime Minister!

Use this link to write Prime Minister Netanyahu to urge him to form a government that will include parties committed to pluralism. Once you have finished you canforward the letter to your friends and post it on your Facebook page and other social media.

Dear Anat Hoffman we support the Women of the Wall!

Anat Hoffman, Rabbis Jeremy Gordon & Moshe Freedman debate Women of the Wall and who owns Judaism. 

Arrest of Anat Hoffman at the Wall. She was strip searched and made to sleep on the floor of a prison cell for the night!

Anat and the Women of the Wall ….we are with you…don’t give up…you are the true face of Israel!

xxx

On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013, one billion women will dance, dance to highlight the atrocities committed against them, sing for equality, and celebrate freedom of Self.  Let us begin to be the change.

LINK

The Myth of Mother India

http://liveencounters.net/?page_id=2555
 
A woman is molested every 12 minutes,
burnt for dowry every hour
and raped every 21 minutes.
(Praful Bidwai Column LINK)
 

Rape, female foeticide, casteism and slavery are diseases that are endemic in the world’s largest democracy. But where do these sordid social afflictions originate from and why has the mindset of Indian society been largely resistant to the legitimate protests from women’s rights groups and enlightened citizens?

Will 2013 be a watershed year for the emancipation of the Indian woman?

The “Amanat” rape case in Delhi, which is believed to be the rape capital of the country by statistics, has unraveled the myth of Mother India. Perhaps it should be called Father India because of its skewered patriarchal society that continues to treat the Woman as a receptacle for the male libido, breeding machine and domestic help… an appendage to Man. The myth of Mother India has been perpetuated based on the premise that the country is the spiritual mother – strong, passionate, loving, forgiving…And that the people rest in her embrace. A movie was made portraying the ‘super Indian woman with high moral values overcoming all life’s hardships’.

In reality this personification of the Indian woman has just been raped.

In fact, this has been going on for a very long time and the image perceived and flaunted of “Mother India” exists in the realms of fantasy. One has only to read how Sita ended her life in the Ramayana and the fate of Draupadi in the Mahabharata to understand the psyche of many Indian men who view women as a sub -species.

In the aftermath of the Delhi rape there were quite a few misogynistic statements by Indian politicians. Here are some classic examples:

01. “One has to abide by certain moral limits. If you cross this limit, you will be punished, just like Sita was abducted by Ravana” – LINK.

02. The President of India’s son has said, “These pretty ladies coming out to protest are ‘highly dented and painted’,” LINK.

03. “Rapes are rare in “Bharat” (rural India) but occur frequently in “India” LINK.

04. “Restrict women to household work” LINK

05. “Rape of grown-ups understandable but not of minors” LINK

Religion is a controlling tool for man as no one dares argue with his interpretations. The man interprets/makes/imposes the religious laws, while the woman is supposed to obediently comply. Followed closely by religion is the wretched caste system which continues to exist and in some areas flourish thanks to the Great Indian Middle Class, the powerful Indian media and caste politics. One has only to glance through the matrimonial pages/supplements of leading newspapers to view the evidence; and also to trace the machinations of political parties that play vote bank politics.

It is the caste system and the class divide that adds to the Indian woman’s vulnerability. This is reflected in the disparity between the educated Indian Middle Class and the great unwashed; homeless and lower class people of rural India, bonded labourers (people bought/sold into slavery), subsistence farmers and daily wage workers in cities… nearly 400 million living on or below the poverty line. (61 people were set free from a life of slavery in India, including children as young as 5, by International Justice Mission – LINK).

Around 77% of the country’s population lives on Rs.20 (00.40cents) per day (Ranjana Padhi’s interview in Live Encounters January 2013 – LINK). These people who have every right to assistance from the State are often subject to abuse. The women in particular face the daunting task of surviving beatings and/or sexual abuse. Even children a few years of age, little girls, fall prey to the sexual depravity of men who know these helpless people cannot retaliate nor seek justice because the System fails miserably.

There are instances where the police themselves have taken sexual advantage of these poor folk. criminal apathy is the order of the day. (A sting operation by Tehelka targeting 23 police stations across the Delhi NCR reveals that men in uniform have a strict litmus test when it comes to determining “real” rape cases. According to their stringent criteria, almost all women deserve to be raped. LINK).

The massive demonstrations in Delhi showed the class divide – women from the educated classes in Metros are more ‘important’ than those of the lesser class… the great unwashed. The class divide is self evident in these two instances that failed to ignite the Nation:

01. Sikar, Rajasthan – An eleven year old girl abducted/raped by six men and after a day left on the roadside bleeding profusely. Five months till date she lies in a hospital after 14 reconstructive surgeries. The men who raped her are believed to have told the family, “You are poor, what can you do? Take some money and take back the case”. LINK

02. Kerala – The Suryanelli rape case. A sixteen year old abducted/raped by a bus conductor and then passed onto others. She was raped by 42 men in 40 days and left on the roadside seriously injured for she couldn’t sit or stand. The Supreme Court is hearing her case after an 8-year gap. LINK

There are no voices for the girl in Sikar and the other in Kerala. The silence from the Indian Middle Class and political parties is deafening. The less said about the response from religious leaders the better.

India has a fixation with the ‘Mother’. Here men adore their mothers and sisters and yet torture and abuse their daughters-in-law for insufficient dowry, sometimes murdering them. Rampant female foeticide, new born girls abandoned on garbage dumps and other public places is wide spread even among the educated classes. The Indian State of Haryana is said to have the lowest male-female ratio. Their men have to look as far as Karnataka in south India for brides. There is no Mother India. It is a myth based on warped perceptions and an embedded Oedipus complex. The sooner Indians except this and work towards creating a living breathing Mother India the better it would be for the position of women in this country.

One hopes that the massive protests in Delhi and elsewhere across the country will bring about a social change in India, a country contaminated by the caste system, class system, puerile caste politics and religious fundamentalism. The change will only come if the Indian middle class, intelligentsia, national media and enlightened politicians come together as a cohesive force to be the Change!

Perhaps a brave new world for the much abused Indian women will begin in 2013.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

The Government of India has hastily passed Justice Verma’s report as an ordinance leaving out important key demands made by the Verma Commission such as: the prosecution of security personnel (AFPSA), barring politicians who have been either accused or convicted of rape from standing for elections, marital rape and more. The Indian Law Minister has stated that the Ordinance will be discussed in Parliament when it is presented to be converted into an ACT and then political parties/people can debate the various issues involved. This has been vociferously objected to by Women’s Rights activists.

Human Rights Watch Breaking the Silence– Sexual abuse of children in India

thumb_235170_1339055150 So why are we not protecting our children?

NEWS REPORT

New DelhiChild victims of sex assaults in India often find themselves humiliated by the police and mistreated by doctors when they pluck up the courage to report abuse, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

In a report released amid continuing anger at the handling of sex cases in the wake of a deadly gang-rape in Delhi, the rights watchdog said the authorities had to become more sensitive towards victims.

“Children who bravely complain of sexual abuse are often dismissed or ignored by the police, medical staff and other authorities,” said HRW’s regional director Meenakashi Ganguly at the unveiling of the report.

“Instead, they subject the victim to mistreatment and humiliation.”

The report details how children are sometimes forced to undergo a so-called ‘finger test’ to determine their sexual history, even though forensic experts say the examination has no scientific value.

It also quotes the mother of a three-year-old girl who was left in severe pain after being seen by doctors examining her alleged assault.

“For six to eight hours after the examination my daughter did not urinate because it was hurting her so much,” the mother, who cannot be named, was quoted as saying in the report.

Ms Ganguly said it was this sort of “mistreatment” that needed to be addressed and called for an urgent overhaul of the criminal justice system.

Many of the criticisms contained in the report echo those voiced by protestors in the aftermath of the December 16 gang-rape that triggered demonstrations across the country and deep soul-searching about the handling of sex attacks.

The number of reports of sexual assault in India, whether attacks on children or adults, are believed to represent only a fraction of the overall number, with victims often too scared to file complaints.

“It is hard enough for a sexually abused child or their relatives to come forward and seek help, but instead of handling cases with sensitivity Indian authorities often demean and retraumatise them,” Ms Ganguly told reporters.

“The failure to implement needed police reforms to be more sensitive and supportive to victims has made police stations places to be dreaded.”

The 82-page report entitled “Breaking the Silence”, contains more than 100 interviews on the experience of dealing with government institutions.

Child sexual abuse is common in homes, schools and residential care facilities across India and critics say the authorities have a poor record in bringing offenders to justice.

The most high-profile verdict saw two British men jailed for six years in 2011 for abusing several boys at a shelter they ran in Mumbai — 10 years after charges were first filed.

Last year, the government enacted the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act which sets out punishments for all forms of sex abuse as well as guidelines for police and courts to deal with victims.

“It is a very good initiative from the government,” Ms Ganguly said.

“But government efforts to tackle the problem will fail unless protection mechanisms are properly implemented and the justice system is reformed to ensure abuse is reported and fully prosecuted.

5 year old Saudi girl tortured raped killed by Cleric father who doubted her virginity

Shocking … News Report

Saudi Arabian media sources have reported that an Islamic cleric who raped, tortured and killed his 5-year-old daughter, has been let off with a small fine, avoiding a jail sentence.

Lama al-Ghamdi was the daughter of Fayhan al-Ghamdi, an Islamic preacher who makes regular appearances on television. Under Saudi law, al-Ghamdi has had to pay only £31,500 in ‘blood money’, even after confessing to the heinous crime.

Gulf News reports that 5-year-old Lama was admitted to hospital with multiple injuries, including a crushed skull, broken ribs and left arm, extensive bruising and burns. She died last October 22.

Activists from women’s rights groups said that the father had doubted Lama’s virginity and had her checked up by a medic. A social worker from the hospital where Lama was admitted said the girl’s back was broken and that she had been raped “everywhere”.

According to the victim’s mother, hospital staff told her that her “child’s rectum had been torn open and the abuser had attempted to burn it closed.”

Ghamdi has apparently paid 200,000 riyals ($50,000; £31,500) in “blood money” – a sum that can be paid to relatives of a murder victim and which, if accepted, can replace a death sentence.

Human rights activists have indicated that judicial leniency towards male abusers reflects the highly problematic nature of the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia.

Currently, women in Saudi Arabia are considered minors, and all are automatically assigned to the care and judgment of their most immediate male relative.

So far, three Saudi activists have raised objections to the ruling which is based on Saudi laws that state that a father cannot be executed for murdering his children, nor can husbands be executed for murdering their wiv

Threats against Pragaash – J & K police identify FB abusers – arrests imminent

Thank you J & K Police for identifying those that threatened and abused the all woman Kashmiri girl band, Pragaash. Now catch them and prosecute them to the full extent of the law…

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/banning-of-jks-allgirls-band-pragaash-raises-crucial-questions/370959-3-245.html The 10th-class students — vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and guitarist Aneeka Khalid — had formed a band “Pragaash” and performed in December last year with a scintillating performance at the annual ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition in Srinagar and won the best performance award in their first public appearance.

Girls’ families threatened with social boycott
Hurriyat justifies ban on all-girls rock band, blames media 
Open threats from radicals force Kashmir’s all girl band to wind up 

Link to Video – http://www.timesnow.tv/videoshow/4420434.cms

During a debate with IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Shabnam Lone said, “The Mufti has given a fatwa, is he a Constitutional authority? He is not. Now why were the things allowed to go far beyond the point where these girls are in hiding now?”

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/fatwa-against-pargaash-act-to-disturb-normalcy-bjp/articleshow/18337893.cms The band on Monday decided to quit after a fatwa was issued against them by the valley’s Grand Mufti, Bashir-ud-Din, who said that women must live in purdah at all times. Blaming women for the increase in crimes against them, he said that women must desist from performing in public as otherwise, there will be no difference between “our women and film actresses”.

An angry chief minister Omar Abdullah told CNN-IBN that the fatwa is against spirit of Kashmiriyat and promised full security to the girls if they wish to continue singing.

Newsupdate – Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Foundation

NEWSLETTER

AHA Foundation applauds passage of amendment making it illegal to take girl out of US for FGM

The AHA Foundation applauds passage of the “Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act”, which makes it illegal to knowingly transport a girl out of the United States in order to commit FGM.

This amendment was designed to address the all-too-common practice of “vacation cutting”, in which girls living in the United States are taken to their parents’ country of origin during school breaks to undergo the procedure. Those found guilty under the new legislation will be sentenced to up to five years imprisonment, the same penalty imposed on those who commit FGM within the United States.

A bipartisan group of legislators, Senator Harry Reid and Representatives Joseph Crowley and Mary Bono Mack, spearheaded the Transport for Female Genital Mutilation Act. The AHA Foundation commends their efforts, and applauds the President for signing this bill into law.

Read more here.

Implications of new anti-FGM law

TrustLaw, a leading legal news source, analyzes the new law against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and cites the AHA Foundation’s work in this area.

Read more here.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali criticizes Egypt President’s poisonous rhetoric against Jews

In the New York Times, Ayaan Hirsi Ali criticizes Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi for his vitriolic rhetoric against Jews.

Read more here.

Swedish court sentences teenager in “honor” killing case

A Swedish court has sentenced a 17-year-old boy to 8 years in prison for stabbing his sister to death in an “honor” killing. The 19-year-old sister had been stabbed more than 100 times with two knives and a pair of scissors in April 2012. In misplaced sympathy, the teen’s defense attorney called the sentence for the killer “incredibly harsh”.

Read more here.

Court in Georgia (United States) Upholds “Honor” Killing Sentence

The Supreme Court of Georgia has upheld the murder conviction and life sentence of a Georgia man accused of slaying his daughter in a so-called honor killing.

Chaudry Rashid was accused of strangling his 25-year-old daughter because she planned to divorce her husband from an arranged marriage.

Following an interview at the police department, Rashid asked to speak with his family. He spoke in Punjabi and Urdu and talked about his daughter’s death. During the conversation he said: “I put the rope around her neck and squeezed her.” “She disgraced our family.”

Read more here.

British Member of Parliament says aid professionals too reluctant in combating FGM

A British Member of Parliament has said too many British professionals, fearful of being accused of racism, are reluctant to take action to stop female genital mutilation.

Read more here.

Victims of “honor” violence in Wales are being let down because police and prosecutors do not understand the “shame culture” in Muslim cultures

Victims of “honor” violence are being let down by the Welsh justice system because police and prosecutors do not understand the “shame culture” in Muslim communities, an expert has claimed.

Shahien Taj, the executive director of the Henna Foundation, said the legal system in Wales is repeatedly failing victims of child abuse, rape and domestic violence.

And she said compared to England, those involved in the justice system in Wales are not using the guidance available to them and are unable to recognise cases where honour based violence (HBV) may be present.

Read more here.

Olympian swimmer seeks asylum in UK to escape forced marriage to 60-year-old man

An Olympian fears she will be killed if deported from Britain after living on the streets to escape an arranged marriage. Swimmer Ayouba-Ali Sihame, 18, represented the tiny African island nation of Comoros during the London Games. But she ended up in a prison cell after fleeing the athlete’s village in a desperate bid to avoid being wed to a twice-married 60-year-old man. Her mother told her she was being sold and must give up her sporting career just days before she flew to London. She said the sportswoman’s ‘celebrity’ status had pushed up her value in the poverty-stricken strict Islamic community.

Read Ayouba-Ali’s story here.

Naomi Conrad explores the Salafist scene in Bonn, Germany

Bonn, Germany, has a thriving Salafist movement that threatens women’s rights. Read Naomi Conrad’s investigative report here.

German police arrest 2 suspects after woman attacked in acid attack

German police have arrested two suspects after a young woman of Turkish origin suffered serious burns in an acid attack in western Germany.

The victim had reported the suspected attacker three times to the police for threatening her and using physical violence.

Authorities said the young man had been ordered to stay away from her.

Read more here.

Swedish government seeks Kurdistan co-operation in “honor” killing cases

Swedish police are seeking the cooperation of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to hand over the father of a Kurdish 19-year-old, Maria Barin, who was the victim of an “honor killing”, as well as suspects in other similar crimes.

Read more here.

Success story of girl who escapes forced marriage

An Indian girl who fled a forced marriage has become a millionaire entrepreneur. Read Chanda Zaveri’s success story here.

Pakistani-born human rights activist Sabatina James explains dire situation of non-Muslims in Pakistan

Pakistani-born human rights campaigner Sabatina James explains the dire situation for those in Pakistan who do not accept Islam as their religion.

Watch Sabatina here.

British human rights campaigner Maryam Namazie lectures at the University of London on the threat of Sharia law to women’s rights.

Watch Maryam’s lecture here.

Israeli police under scrutiny for doing too little to combat ‘honor’ killings

The recent murder of a 16-year-old Israeli Arab girl by her brother for the sake of “family honor” has many criticizing the Israeli Police for doing too little to eliminate the phenomenon of so-called “honor killings.”

Read more here.

Suspect indicted in Israeli “honor” killing

An indictment has been filed with the Beersheba District Court against Ahman Alasam, 24, for killing his 16-year-old sister Aisha.

According to the indictment, Aisha moved out of the family home to reside with her partner in the city of Tayibe, but returned upon her family’s request. Some three weeks ago, Ahman slashed her throat with a knife and then reported the crime to the police.

Read more here.

Qatar bans women from working in boys’ schools; confusion ensues

An unexpected decision on ban women from working in boys’ schools in Qatar has left the establishments, teachers and staff struggling to readjust.

Read more here.

70-year-old Saudi man’s attempted wedding to unwilling 15-year-old girl sparks condemnation

The recent attempted marriage of a 70-year-old Saudi man to a 15-year-old girl has sparked condemnation from human rights and social media activists in the kingdom.

Read about the girl’s plight here.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas backs away from tougher “honor killing” laws

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has pivoted away from earlier promises to amend laws that offer leniency to men who use the “honor killing” defense.

Read more here.

Tanzania government claims it is powerless to stop FGM

In the face of circumcision of thousands of girls last month, the Tanzanian government claims it is powerless to end the complex traditional practice that has led to untold pain and even death for the victims.

Cracking down on the perpetrators was made even more difficult by a conspiracy between heads of clans and village leaders, who are paid for looking the other way as the traditionalists round up girls for the cut.

Read more here.

In Senegal, grandmothers are taking the lead in fight against FGM

In Senegal, like other West African countries, grandmothers are generally the ones who decide girls should be circumcised. Now the Grandmother Project is harnessing the support of grandmothers to stop female genital mutilation.

Read about the grandmothers’ efforts here.

Indonesia government told to do more to stop FGM

The Indonesian government has been told by humanitarian groups it must do more to stop Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Read more here.

Indonesia sees a rise of laws inspired by Shariah law

In recent years Indonesia has seen a rise of laws inspired by Shariah law, hurting women’s rights.

Read more here.

Afghan inmate kills wife during prison visit in “honor” killing

An Afghan prisoner murdered his wife when she went to visit him, allegedly because she had been unfaithful after he was jailed for killing her relatives, police said.

Read more here.

Women’s Rights Groups object to the Ordinance signed by the President of India

News Report

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee today signed the ordinance on sexual assault which was passed by the union cabinet on Friday. Women’s rights groups had urged the President yesterday not to sign the ordinance, saying the cabinet had selectively accepted the recommendations of the Justice JS Verma commission.

With President Mukherjee signing it, the ordinance comes into effect immediately. The Parliament now has to pass the ordinance within six months. The Budget Session of Parliament starts on February 21.

The Union Cabinet on Friday recommended the draft of the ordinance to the President for his assent in a bid to fast-track amendments to the laws to check crime against women, the subject of national debate after the fatal gang-rape of a young student on a Delhi bus in December.

The ordinance incorporates some but not all of the recommendations of the Justice Verma commission, a panel of three legal experts, appointed by the government in the wake of fierce street protests after the Delhi gang-rape.

In its ordinance, the government has suggested death penalty or imprisonment till death in ‘extreme’ cases of sexual assault. The Justice Verma panel did not ask for the death penalty even for extreme cases of rape, largely because women’s groups were not in favour of it.

Also, the Justice Verma committee had recommended that marital rape be recognised as a crime, it does not feature in the ordinance which also replaces the word “rape” with the term “sexual assault” and includes acid attacks and stalking. The ordinance also does not include any reference to a review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA -the commission had suggested that sexual crimes by members of the armed forces should be tried under ordinary criminal law.

A day after the ordinance was passed by the cabinet, women’s groups lashed out at the Centre. “We are alarmed at the complete lack of transparency shown by the government… We call upon the President not to sign such an ordinance,” the groups said in a statement.

The groups were represented by human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover, Sunita Dhar of Jagori, Kavita Krishnan from the All India Progressive Women’s Association and Madhu Mehra from Partners for Law and Development.

The activists said the government had ignored all recommendations of the Verma commission that could have empowered women in the fight against sexual violence.

“An ordinance like this, implemented by stealth, serves to weaken our democracy. It betrays the trust of thousands of men and women who marched on the streets of Delhi and other cities demanding an end to impunity for sexual violence,” said Vrinda Grover.

Minister of State for Home, RPN Singh, assured that the ordinance was not final. “The standing committee is going to see all the recommendations of the Verma commission. We will discuss these recommendations. The government is aware that we need stringent laws to protect women,” he said.

—————————————–

To better understand why the AFSPA and other provisions suggested by the Justice Verma Commission were not accepted by the Indian Government one needs to readPaula Banerjee’s interview in Live EncountersPaula is co-author of Women in Indian Borderlands an insightful collection of research articles on the prevailing ground realities for women living along the Indo-Pak border, Indo-Burma border and the Indo-Bangladesh border.

One hopes that in the months to come  civil and human rights groups in India would force the government to accept all provisions suggested by the Justice Verma Commission.

India prides itself as the world’s largest democracy. It is time to show the world that it is.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om