Posted by Agnivo Niyogi
National Commission of Women (NCW) is a respected organisation that is deemed to be the voice of women, who have been subjected to brutality from the society. It is expected to stand by those who face violence within their homes and without, always upholding the tenet of equality and dignity for women. Sadly, the current Chairperson of the NCW has not only miserably failed in her job, but allowed her political biases to influence the august chair she holds.
Mamta Sharma’s connection to the Congress is well known. She even contested Rajasthan Assembly elections on a Congress ticket (I am not even sure if that is allowed). And indulging in politics as NCW Chief is her forte (which was clearly proved when she visited Kolkata, and was flanked by senior WB Pradesh Congress leaders wherever she went).
For a person who holds the august chair of NCW Chairperson, it is but expected she will be sensitive towards victims of gender violence. It is hence appalling when the NCW Chief blames women for molestation and asks them to “dress carefully” to prevent sexual violence.
Mamta Sharma threw all protocols and conventions to air today when she wrote to (not unsurprising, given her political leanings) WB Pradesh Congress a letter, which had little to do with concern for women and was more of a political tool ahead of Lok Sabha elections. Blaming WB Govt for rising crimes against women in the State, she asked Congress to take steps to ensure safety of women (yes, the same Congress which has presided over rape after rape in Delhi; coincidentally Delhi houses the office of NCW).
Mamta Sharma is wrong on many counts. If one goes by statistics, the National Crime Records Bureau clearly show that the number of rapes in West Bengal has come down from 2536 (in 2009) to 1590 (November 2013). While crimes recorded against women in 2012 in Kolkata were 68, that in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore stood at 585, 232, 94 and 90 respectively.
Secondly, whenever crimes against women have been reported in the State, the administration has always arrested the culprits in the shortest possible time. What better example than the Madhyamgram case (October 26 – FIR lodged, Oct 31 – all accused arrested, Dec 17 – chargesheeted) or the Khidderpore case (arrests made within 24 hours). It is a tragedy that people, who failed to take action after incidents like Bantala, Dhantala, Bhangar, Tapasi Malika, Anita Dewan or Jagori Baske, now shed crocodile tears for the safety of women.
Already, there are 65 women’s police stations in different districts of West Bengal. The West Bengal Govt has set up 80 fast-track courts to deal with these crimes. Every district has a human rights court. The truth is that, due to a free media and greater sensitization due to administrative support, crimes are reported freely by women. This was unimaginable in the previous regime, where rape was a tool of scoring political brownie points.
And to spread social awareness against crimes like these, the Government has started projects like Kanyashree, Atmaraksha and Sukanya for women empowerment. Unlike some priviledged politicians who make a hue and cry over women’s issues during election season, the West Bengal Govt has been tirelessly working for the cause, despite a huge anti-publicity industry based in Delhi.
While politician Mamta Sharma is free to have her own opinion and biases, when she is on the chair of NCW Chairperson, bipartisanship and empathy from women is the least of our expectations from her. If she is incapable of doing justice to her post, she should immediately resign.
Posted by Agnivo Niyogi
On the morning of 11 December 2013, I woke up with a hope that history will take a new course that morning. Excited and charged up for a celebration, I stared animatedly at my Twitter feed, waiting for the news to break. Two tweets appeared on my TL back to back. The fact did not sink in. By 10:45, i was unable to read my Twitter feed, eyes moist with tears. From a respected citizen of India, who in his smallest capacity had been contributing to the cause of nation-building, was now a criminal! Supreme Court had recriminalised Section 377, finding no “constitutional infirmity” in the draconian law.
What I was not anticipating was the huge outpouring of support for equal rights movement for gays and outrage against the irrational and incompetent (with shades of homophobia) verdict of the Supreme Court. Unlike 2009, when the landmark judgment of Retd Justice AP Shah was jeered, the queer taunted, and supporters of gay rights mocked on and off social media, for the last three days, the extent of support has been overwhelming, to say the least.
Justice Singhvi, who delivered the regressive judgment annulling July 2 2009 verdict by the Delhi High Court, hid behind a slew of procedural walls, which he himself chose to demolish in the past, when he bypassed the legislature and executive to frame public policy for telecom in the aftermath of the 2G scam. The judge who takes the liberty of unsettling the balance between the three wings of government in fiscal matters, giving the excuse that it is the legislature’s job to make amends to laws, is downright hypocritical.
The judiciary is the custodian of human rights, and has the mandate to make decisions in the interest of the public. But Justice Singhvi thinks annulling Section 377 of the IPC for a “miniscule minority” in improper. Well, Justice Singhvi needs to be reminded that any minority, no matter how miniscule needs to be protected and their rights secured – the Constitution of India warrants that.
Interpretation of statutes is another mandate of the judiciary in case of conflicts. By declaring that the Section 377 suffers from no Constitutional infirmity, the Supreme Court has put its stamp of approval on treatment of about 100 million (figures stated by top media houses) citizens of the country as criminals. A law drafted in 1860, to preserve the Anglo-Christian morality, got a thumbs up from the supreme judiciary in India in 2013!
Away from the legal debate, a social debate was raging on social media platforms. The army of homophobes were out in full force, led by the Commanders Subramanian Swamy and Ramdev, who deserve Nobel prizes in Medicine for the absurd claims they made regarding homosexuality, without bothering to provide even a shred of credible evidence. Three years back I would have engaged in Twitter battles with these dolts, arguing my case from Biological, social and psychological points of view.
However, my patience has thinned in the last 5 years of handling Internet Hindus, and I didn’t want to waste my energy on them. Fighting the Supreme Court is more important at this juncture. All those who are interested to read about the Scientific evidence that homosexuality is NOT an aberration, fully natural, genetic and hereditary, please do read my blogs on the subject (published in Gaylaxy).
A battle lies ahead. India is in need of a Stonewall moment. The LGBT community has never felt more galvanised. The entire media has thrown its weight behind us. There’s no stopping or looking back. 2009 empowered us. The SC setback has strengthened our resolve. Ladke LenGAY Hindustan.
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