Tag Archive for WSS

Jisha rape and murder: Women’s network demands action against police officials who refused to file FIR

Jisha-rape-case

statement issued by Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements

We, condemn the gruesome incident of heinous rape and murder of a 30-year old law student from Kuruppamapdy, villageVattolippidi Canal Bund near Perumbavoor in Kerala’s Ernakulam district. On the evening of April 28th 2016, her mother, a daily-wage labourer returned home to find her youngest daughters body mutilated, raped and murdered. She was studying for her law exams at home when the incident took place. Her body had 38 injuries, including in the genitals.

We are appalled at the apathy extended towards the family by the State, Administration and the Mainstream Media. Police refused to file First Information Report on the night of April 28th 2016, when, mother of Victim approached them . After five full days of inaction and pressure by Dalit Activists in Kerela FIR was registered. Additionally, the mainstream media’s handling of the case stands in violation of the law that prohibits the use of the name of the victim/survivor in media. However this case saw a parading of the dead victim. Her photos were paraded by mainstream media and circulated. Denying the Dalit women respect and dignity even in Death.

The victims family was a woman headed-household who were continuously harassed by the middle caste/class neighborhood by denying them access to water, and other daily resources. Despite that the family continued to struggle and survive. The daughter soon after getting admission earlier, owing to poor financial conditions , had to give up her studies at one point of time. Later she was determined to pursue her law degree hoping to work towards access to justice for the poor and marginalised.  Her entry into the educational institutions is part of the in-roads / upward social mobility, made by the Dalit-Bahujan community in spaces of higher education that have been historically denied to them. The rape and murder of this student is a retaliation of this occupying of public space by a Dalit woman. Further the community in shunning the incident by putting the blame on the ‘outsider’ the migrant labourer.

This rape is not a stand alone incident in the daily violence meted out on Dalit bodies in their access of public spaces in Kerala . To cite few cases in the recent past , just two days back a Dalit nursing student was raped inVarkala, Thiruvananthapuram and also Chitralekha a Dalit auto riksha driver has been continuously harassed by CPI (M)goons since 2004. The incidence stands in a long list of state apartheid towards the Dalit community. In kerala crime rate  against SCs is 26.8 and that against STs is 27.8 .( the All india crime rate for SCs  is 23.4 and STs is 11.0- NCRB 2014)

Caste based violence and gender based violence don’t work in isolation but are hand-in-glove with each other. They have to be placed in the larger history of violence meted out on the basis of caste and gender. The inter-sectionality works in insidious manner through the bodies of women. We see gender based violence tied with casted based violence both of which are used as tools of violence and discrimination and perpetuated by the State and its machinery. Caste is the underlying reality of the country; hence attempt at looking at gender-based violence minus the caste reality of it is a gross injustice to understanding gender-based violence. As collectives committed towards a non-funded grassroots effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence being perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on our women and girls by any perpetrator(s).

We demand
1. Immediate Arrest of the accused involved
2. Speedy trial of the case as per Criminal law Amendment Act 2013 & SC/ST POA Act 1989
3. Competent legal representation of the victim
4. State to provide adequate compensation to the family of the deceased .
5. Independent inquiry by NHRC ,NCW and NCSC  
6. Action against police officials who refused to file an FIR on day of the incident as per S.166a

Bijapur women register FIR against security forces for gang rape and loot

Bijapur- violence

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression assists women register FIR against Chhattisgarh Police and security forces. Mob threatens rape survivors and tells them to return to village and not to lodge an FIR against forces

By WSS
After four trying days of chasing and pressuring authorities, the determination and resolve of the women of Bellam- Lendra (Nendra) village, Block Usur, Thana Basaguda, has finally paid off. An FIR has been registered against police and security forces by the Bijapur thana for sexual violence including gang rape, dacoity, and for plundering and looting the village.

The FIR registered by the women was in reference to an incident of large-scale violence that was meted out by the police and security forces during a search and combing operation carried out between the 11th and 14th of January in their village. With the help of human rights groups, the aggrieved women from Nendra reached Bijapur on the 18th and immediately petitioned both the Collector and the police authorities to register their complaint. With blatant disregard for the law and in clear violation of Supreme Court orders, the police needlessly stalled the registration of an FIR until the
4th day of the women’s determined pressure.

In their statements recorded before the police and the SDM, the women identified some members of the forces by name, all of whom are surrendered militants. The women also testified to at least 13 gang rapes inflicted by the troops. Security forces consumed livestock, food rations and looted belongings, including money. They also tore up sheets and clothes and killed livestock that they did not eat – clearly reflecting an intention to make survival difficult for people. Threats of burning down houses with children inside were repeatedly made.

In a chance meeting, a three-member team of the National Commission of Women (NCW) present in Bijapur was able to meet with nine of the complainants and the WSS team accompanying them on the 22nd of January. On the 21st however, the administration and police made every effort to keep reports of this incident from reaching the NCW and attempted to prevent the women from meeting them. Finally, the team managed to file a complaint before the NCW carrying details of the incident.

On a troubling note however, while waiting to meet the NCW delegation, a mob of individuals identifying themselves as victims of Maoist violence appeared on the scene. They engaged in a discussion with some of the activists who were part of the team, hurling allegations at them of being “Maoist supporters” for taking up issues that pertained to violence by the forces but not violence by the Maoists. Some mob members questioned the women directly for registering an FIR against the forces and even threatened them, demanding that they leave Bijapur immediately. This altercation was extremely upsetting and intimidating for the 12 complainants, including 8 rape survivors.

The group, that included some ex-Salwa Judum members, seems to have the complete support of the police. They were ferried in what appeared to be police vehicles. Their sudden appearance on the seen, unrestricted by the police in anyway, indicates prior knowledge of the presence and objectives of the team. They followed the team from the meeting with the NCW to the thana (where some paper-work had to be completed for the medical examinations). They continued to blindly defend security forces despite the teams efforts to argue that as victims of violence, people should stand together rather than apart.

The required medical exams were completed on the 22nd, and the women have now returned to their village. In the next few days, another round of testimonies will have to be completed and the police insists on taking them, even though they have already been recorded once by the police and the SDM. Given that the women had already spent five days in Bijapur having left their homes and children, the police have said that they would travel to the village to record testimonies. However as has happened in the past, investigation conducted in the village is carried out by the police who go there accompanied by a convoy of security forces. Given that the accused are the security forces themselves, it is inconceivable that the survivors of violence will be able to participate in such a process free from fear and intimidation.

Investigations must be sensitive to the survivors and have to be carried out with care and empathy. Under Section 157 of CrPC, investigations in case of rape must take place at a place of the survivors choosing. Given recent developments, we are concerned for the safety of the women and demand that further investigation take place in an atmosphere of security and comfort for the women. They must be assured that they will be free from intimidation from any source – the police or private groups. In addition we demand that investigation in such cases, and in particular this case, be moved from the accused police to an independent investigating agency, in order to ensure fairness and transparency.

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non funded network of women’s rights, dalit rights, human rights and civil liberties organizations and individuals across India.

Attack on African nationals, women’s rights activists demand minister’s resignation

AAP-attack-on-africans-in-Delhi

By Team FI

In a letter to the Chief Minister of Delhi, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), has strongly condemned the recent racial and sexual violence unleashed by Delhi law minister and his supporters on Ugandan women and has called for the resignation of law minister Somanath Bharti and compensation for the women.

Last week, Somnath Bharti and his supporters had mounted a vigilante-style raid on some African women, alleging they were running a “sex and drug ring”.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression strongly condemns the illegal raid conducted by the AAP cabinet law minister, Somnath Bharti and his mob of supporters, on the premises of the Ugandan women on 17th January 2014 residing in Khidki village, New Delhi.

One media report states that four women who were kept in a taxi for 3 hours were accused of conducting ‘drug rackets’ and ‘sex rackets’; and were terrorized by your cabinet minister and his mob. The women, who were eventually helped by the police, have registered their statements. Two of them have stated that they were physically assaulted by the mob and were also subjected to intense racist abuse – “black people break laws.”

Media reports also indicate that for the purpose of collecting their urine samples, one of them was forced to urinate in public. To add to this abuse and trauma, they were also subjected to not only body search but humiliating invasive physical searches of their private parts. This search is a part of the routine custodial violence that women are often subjected to.

As a group in solidarity with women who face violence, we are appalled to learn of this incident which reeks of gross violation of not only the constitutional law but of human rights as well.

In its party manifesto, AAP had professed to follow the rules of the law, vowed to create a safer society for women, and punish the sexual offenders. But, in the light of this incident, we are deeply disappointed to note that your party has demeaned the credibility of its own manifesto by going against it and engaging in such disturbing acts.

Your law minister has not only willfully and fearlessly broken the law but it is shocking to see that instead of taking a decisive stern action against Somnath Bharti, you and your cabinet colleague, Manish Sisodia, defend his racial profiling and violent vigilantism under the pretext of preventing ‘rape tendencies’. We find it inexplicable that when in another shameful incident, a Danish woman was gang raped, the AAP leadership immediately and rightfully recognized it as violence against women but it failed to take cognizance of the same offence when it was inflicted through the agency of its own cabinet minister.

To add insult to injury, in less than 24 hours, in a further appalling act, Somnath Bharti, returned to the very spot on Thursday and asked the residents to draw up a list of houses where ‘such people’ lived and assured them that he would personally check on each one of them. This act is leading to a power structure similar to the regressive Khap Panchayat, where residents are being given the dangerously partial authority of deciding on the basis of their personal and cultural prejudices on who might be a suspect or not. In a country where we have witnessed serious assaults on civil rights on the basis of religion, gender, caste and class, such authority is a potential threat to the civil liberties.If we do not collectively condemn it and proactively combat it, sooner or later we would all be prey to the same.

Barging into people’s homes and arresting them without search/ arrest warrants is a safeguard that has been fought for and established in democratic societies by the constitution. Violating the law was a very shameful act on the part of the Minister who ironically has been given the same responsibility of protecting and upholding the very law he willfully disobeyed. And to defend his acts, makes your stand not just shameful, but it is hazardous to the social well being of any citizen of this state. No one should be allowed such violation under any circumstances.

We stand in solidarity with the women who were subjected to the violence that night and strongly feel that such racist, sexist and moral zealots and vigilantes have no constructive role to play in a party that claims to be a common people’s party, aims to prevent violence against women and seeks to promote diversity and tolerance.

We would like to iterate that:
* There are guidelines by the Supreme Court restated time and again which insist that women cannot be questioned by the police at night, that notice of any search etc has to be given in advance so that women can be prepared for the same.
* That the law clearly lays down the process to be followed by the police which includes the absolute necessity of a search warrant and at least a complaint, if not an FIR to back the same.
* That an assumption cannot be made simply because a couple of women of colour are living together, that they indulge in solicitation for the purpose of prostitution or otherwise.
In the light of the above, WSS demands that:
1. By violating the same law that he pledged to uphold, Somnath Bharti, has proved unfit to be a law Minister, and should be removed from his position.
2. A judicial probe should be ordered by the lieutenant Governor to identify those who instigated and perpetrated the violence against these Ugandan women and also other African nationals in Khidki village.
3. All found guilty of such violence be punished as per the law, including the law minister.
4. The Ugandan women are compensated
5. The police who came to the help and protect those women from the mob violence, followed the rules of the law and refused to raid without a search warrant must not be suspended. Instead they should be made answerable for not filing the FIR of the affected women.
6. AAP must render an apology to the women and others Africans in the country. They should stop spreading racist propaganda such as ‘all Africans are drug peddlars’ who engage in ‘sex rackets’, and should actively discourage others engaging in the same.
7. AAP should promote tolerance and encourage diversity in Delhi and other parts of the country.

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression