There are no words to describe the utter horror evoked by the sadistic rape of a 5 year old girl in Gandhi Nagar, Delhi. A chilling reminder of the brutal gang-rape in December, the feeling does not appear to be going away anytime soon, since we seem to be producing sadists and perverts with consistency. Held captive and raped over a couple of days by a neighbour and a possible accomplice, the little girl was brutalized vaginally, anally and orally. The badly bruised and scarred child was strangulated and left for dead.
On 3 September 2012, the Lok Sabha passed the ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2010’, a full fifteen years after the Supreme Court (1997 Vishaka vs. State of Rajasthan). The Vishakha judgement was revolutionary in mandating the formation of committees against sexual harassment in all workplaces and placing upon the employer the responsibility of providing an environment free of sexual harassment, hostility and intimidation for women. In the Lok Sabha, the Bill was passed without any discussion, and will now be placed before the Rajya Sabha. This Bill must be thoroughly debated, as there are a number of provisions that need revision.
A recent video of the brutal mob-molestation of a 16-year old girl in Guwahati has shamed and outraged the entire nation. The impunity of the perpetrators who could continue their crime for over 30 minutes on a crowded main road in a capital city like Guwahati has deeply disturbed everyone. It is like watching the worst nightmare of every woman on the screen with the hapless young victim being savagely tossed around. Without discounting any of her trauma, hurt and humiliation, the crime in its manner of committing is targeted against ‘every woman’.
The ongoing spate of ‘Honour’ killings in the country is continuing to outrage all democratic minded people. The Khap Panchayats are invoking ‘tradition’ and ‘customs’ to justify their crimes. They have gathered ranks to demand a ban on ‘sagotra’ and ‘bhai-chara’ marriages. Underlying this demand is their historic antipathy towards granting property rights to women in these regions.
A complex range of value systems took root among the emerging bourgeoisie as well as the middle classes of our country, ranging from conservative outlooks steeped in caste and community based thinking to more modern outlooks based in notions of secular law, scientific thinking, equality and rationality. This explains to an extent the phenomenon of honour killings in urban India.
The Lyngdoh Committee, constituted to frame guidelines for students’ union elections,saw the elections for the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union as a “model to be followed”. Therefore, the recent Supreme Court stay on the JNUSU elections on the ground that they do not meet the committee recommendations is unfortunate,says Albeena Shakil,a former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president and a women’s activist based in New Delhi.