Saturday, 29 December 2012

WOMEN'S SAFETY - DEMANDS AND SUGGESTIONS

Please sign the petition if you agree with its demands and suggestions: 

http://www.change.org/petitions/government-of-india-justice-verma-comittee-ensure-safety-for-women-2


WHAT IS OUR PROTEST ABOUT?

The protest means different things to different organised and unorganised groups and individuals, who were making different demands – from “castration!” to “death to rapists!”. We did not identify with each protestor nor with each demand of theirs. In addition, we speak as ordinary, individual citizens of this country, not as representative of any organisation. For us – this protest is about the following:

  • It is not just about this girl: we believe the protests received massive support because the majority of women feel unsafe in Delhi (it received support from people across states because it is the same predicament across states)
  • It is not just about rape: it is against harassment that women have to deal with everyday – ranging from eve teasing, cat calls, groping, molestation to rape.
  •  It is to reclaim public space: Against the idea that public spaces do not belong to women.
  • Against the idea that women can only be protected if they are at home, or dress in a particular manner or if they are in the company of male relatives or if they are segregated.
  • Against the culture of putting blame on the victim: ideas or thinking that perpetuate the stance “She asked for it – by wearing a short dress, by drinking, by being on the streets at night or by being with a male friend.”
  • Against the law enforcement agencies – why is the response time so slow in so many cases? Why is the police often reluctant to register FIRs regarding sexual violence and harassment? Why is the police so insensitive? Why is the conviction rate so low?
  • Against the delay/denial of justice: Why do trials take forever?




WHAT ARE OUR DEMANDS?

We demand a MULTI-PRONGED APPROACH which deals with increased security, institutionalised sensitisation and attitudinal change through education, media campaigns, govt programs, social education packages etc as well as judicial and police reform.  These include short-term as well as long-term steps.


SECURITY FOR WOMEN

  1. Better transportation in the city which functions during the day and night. The frequency of public transportation needs to become better.
  2. Better surveillance systems which can record happenings in the city (more functional CCTV cameras around the city)
  3. More police vans both patrolling areas and stationary with policemen on the lookout (rather than sitting inside the van).
  4. Better street lighting
  5. More security outside malls, bars, restaurants and marketplaces.
  6.  Police vans should patrol poorer residential areas a few time a day and at night
  7. Make it easier for women to report harassment and crimes against women. Make all relevant contact #s PUBLIC and VISIBLE.
  8. All police stations should have a sexual harassment/rape centre with up to 70% female police who are also sensitised. Apparently there is a cell for atrocities/crimes against women which exists only on paper because no funds are allocated to it. Funds should be allocated to such cells; it should NOT remain on paper.
  9. Local verified NGOs to be present at all police stations, so that if denied by the police they have some where to go.
  10. Have more policewomen in PCR vans. Make female police more visible.
  11. Police personnel in buses and metros who have direct access to PCR vans in order to register and act on the complaint immediately
  12. We also demand a fitter police force. There must be regular physical training and regular re-evaluation of their fitness level. 



WE WANT TO STRESS THAT:
A) à WE FEAR AND ARE STRONGLY AGAINST ANY CLAMPDOWN OF LIBERTIES IN THE NAME OF SECURITY (For example, we are against discotheques being closed down at 1am, or the general norm/rule of girl hostel gates closing at 10pm. Make our streets safer for women, do not curb their liberties)
B) à THE POLICE FORCE NEEDS TO BE SENSITISED BEFORE PUTTING THEM OUT ON THE STREETS. THERE IS AN IMMENSE TRUST DEFICIT WITH RESPECT TO THE CURRENT POLICE FORCE.
Ø   We condemn the detainment of peaceful protesters such as Shambhavi and 15 others on the Dec 25, 2012 (http://kafila.org/2012/12/26/how-delhi-police-assaulted-my-daughter-on-25-december-usha-saxena/). Such arbitrary, illegal detainment and beating of citizens only reinforces the lack of faith ordinary citizens have in the police force (and the state as a whole).
Ø   The recent case of suicide by a rape victim from Patiala because of humiliation by police officers as well as the case of the UP rape victim being raped by the policemen probing the case do not inspire much confidence either. Citizens feel that this misogynistic attitude among the police is not the exception, but the rule. (http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/suicide-by-gang-raped-teen-highlights-how-police-added-to-trauma-310707?pfrom=home-otherstories and http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/UP-rape-victim-raped-by-cops-probing-case/articleshow/17748777.cms)

TACKLING THE MYSOGINISTIC ATTITUDE – this change needs to be at an INSTITUTIONAL level – police training, educational institutions, media, social education packages for families. We acknowledge that this is a long-term process, but one which requires ACTIVE, persistent perseverance.
  1.  Sensitisation for current police/aspiring police cadets: Gender sensitisation course for aspiring police cadets (male and female) followed by regular training and workshops in the same. The state should collaborate with civil society and NGOs that are apt in giving such training.


a.      Regular evaluation: Should be evaluations of gender-related attitudes of officers in the police force.
b.      Reinforce positive behaviour: Reward officers that exemplify model behaviour as far as gender sensitivity and equality is concerned.

Role of education and schools: Gender sensitisation and sex education workshops and programs (maybe taught under ‘Health Education’ to avoid parental anxiety) to be a vital, permanent part of the curriculum. This is important to shape minds before it is too late.
a.      Education/schooling as a medium to inculcate gender equality and sensitisation to tackle deep-seated ideas of women as property, without any self-ownership and agency of their own
b.      Check against political manipulation: Must have in-built mechanism to check against this gender sensitisation curriculum being manipulated by conservative political parties when they come into power.
c.       Collaboration: Regular workshops undertaken through collaboration between state-“civil society” NGOs.
d.      Workshops which educate children on what constitutes sexual harassment and violence, on how to disclose and to whom if one has been a victim of this.
e.      Self defence classes for girls and boys (for boys standing up to protect their female friends have been assaulted and murdered) in school and college.
f.        State can recruit keen students from schools and universities for its awareness drives.
g.      Teacher sensitisation: We feel it is absolutely IMPERATIVE for teachers to attend these sensitisation workshops and programs.
3.      College-level gender sensitisation: currently colleges have ineffective gender sensitisation committees. Make sure these are effective and hold regular, mandatory, inventive workshops. Make weekly/monthly vibrant discussions on gender issues mandatory. Involve Womens-issue NGOs if possible.
4.     Sensitisation at work places (public and private sector): provisions to ensure the safety of women through regulatory bodies that address any problems that women may be facing in the office (sexual harassment, abuse etc).
5.      Government programs to educate society on the injustice of rape, sexual violence and harassment. Must shift the association of the word ‘shame’ from the victim to the perpetrator.  Make people aware of their rights.
a.      USE THE MEDIA:
                                                              i.      TV Advertisements: Work with good advertisement companies, invest in good adverts which can spread awareness about:
1.      What constitutes ‘crimes against women’/ ‘sexual harrassment’? Not just rape, but also domestic violence, molestation, sexual abuse, harassment, dowry.
2.      What are our legal and constitutional rights?  
3.      Whom can we contact (contact # of Delhi Commission for Women)? How can our grievance be addressed? Reassure us.
                                                            ii.      Approach and encourage news channels to start campaigns (like NDTV’s ‘Marks for Sports’ and ‘Save the Tiger’ – women’s safety is surely as important an issue).
                                                          iii.      Invest in half/full-page newspaper ads – Hindi and English (and even vernaculars, ideally)
                                                          iv.      Radio adverts and jingles
                                                            v.      Use the ‘Social media’ – facebook pages, twitter accounts, websites. Invest money and PUBLICISE them.
                                                          vi.      Posters, hoardings @ bus-stops, metro-stations, roadsides, school bulletin boards, workplaces, malls etc. Involve designers to make them effective, and women’s organisation to make them sensitive. Make important contact numbers KNOWN through these. These must be in Hindi and English. 
6.      State collaboration with local community leaders: Workshops and awareness campaigns in collaboration with local community leaders. Raise awareness through local workshops, street plays. Involve NGOs as well.
7.      Make discussion of gender issues mandatory for Resident Welfare Associations. 
8.      Social education packages for families: provision of social education packages for families in a way similar to population control and family planning programs of the past. These packages must include gender sensitization as a vital component, making clear  that the harassment of women or violence against them is severely punishable by law and amounts to a serious offence.

NOTE ABOUT AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS:
·        Awareness campaigns should:
o   Emphasise that rape is not about sexual/physical pleasure- it is about asserting power
o   Highlight that the victim/survivor need not be felt ‘sorry’ for, that it is NOT the case that now ‘dishonoured’ she has nothing to live for. Highlight that she can still lead a life of honour and dignity and make a significant contribution in the lives of people she loves or in society.
o   Be strictly against the culture of putting blame on the victim of sexual violence or harrassment: ideas or thinking that perpetuate the stance “She asked for it – by wearing a short dress, by drinking, by being on the streets at night or by being with a male friend.”
o   Be strictly against the idea that women can only be protected if they are at home, or dress in a particular manner or if in the company of male relatives or if they are segregated (it must be clear that ladies compartments/buses are only a temporary measure). Long-term goal must be highlighted: sexes cohabiting and sharing the same space and respecting each other’s dignity.
o   Counter deep-seated ideas of women as property, without any self-ownership and agency of their own.
o   Spread awareness of women’s rights and of gender equality (stress fact that women are EQUAL to men).
o   Highlight crimes which violate the principle of gender equality – these included female foeticide, female infanticide, inheritance inequality, dowry, wife-beating, widowhood. [Perhaps Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate Team can be involved in this campaign. Along with ordinary women who have fought gender injustice]
o   Highlight WHAT/HOW/WHOM - ‘what’ constitutes sexual harassment and violence, on ‘how’ to disclose and to ‘whom’ if one has been a victim of abuse or harassment.
o   Be against the idea that somehow a man who rapes a woman is “mental” or belongs to “lower” class and somehow men with money or who are rich do not rape.
o   Target men AND women.
o   WE STRONGLY THINK that collaboration between the state and “civil society” is essential for an effective campaign. Rope in keen students at the level of school and college, movie stars, advertising and marketing gurus, designers, and victims and survivors of sexual violence and harassment. This will make the campaign creative, inventive and effective

JUDICIAL DEMAND

1.     We are not for castration or the death penalty. We demand CERTAINTY of punishment i.e. the perpetrator must think that if he does wrong, he WILL be caught and there is absolutely NO way out. We believe this is a bigger deterrent than more brutal/harsher punishment.
2.     Revision of rape laws:
a.      We appreciate The Criminal Law (Amendment ) Bill, 2012 which deals with punishment for rape being from 7 years to a possible life sentence as well as making rape a gender neutral offence has been given the go-ahead by the cabinet to be tabled before the Parliament. But we believe some gaps do exist with the current law as well as with the bill tabled before Parliament. The most gaping one = marital rape isn't covered within the meaning of rape or sexual assault (as the Bill calls it). This is an loophole which must be filled given that marital rape is possibly the most pervasive form of rape in this country. The Bill also retains the archaic and patently paternalistic concept of "modesty of women". We condemn the use of such patriarchal language in the framing of our laws as this perpetuates biases against women.
b.      Please take advice from eminent lawyers such as Brinda Grover regarding this. As ordinary citizens, we can only say this much.
3.     Time-bound justice: speedy trials in all rape cases. Fast-track the 100,000 pending rape cases (all-India figure). In addition, we want speedy trials in ALL cases of sexual violence and harassment.
4.     Better, Reliable Investigation: before any law can be implemented, there is need of diligent investigation. We need proper investigating agencies which are 1) sensitised and motivated 2) efficient 3) competent and well-trained 4) well-equipped. Without this, any implementation or reform of law would be useless because the case would be damaged at the start.


MEDICAL DEMAND:

1.   All hospitals – govt and private – to have rape kits. Training on how to use them.
2.   Free treatment for sexual assault victims
3.   Seek opinions of those who have worked with rape survivors for more on what is needed.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

·        WE FEAR the treatment of this gang-rape case as an isolated case:
o   We fear that in trying to safe THIS particular victim, and in trying to bring THESE particular perpetrators to justice, will IGNORE justice for rape victims.
o   We fear that the govt will make this only about rape and IGNORE the larger issue of safety and security for women in general.
o    We fear tokenism, and a one-time token bow to populism in this sensational case. We demand a rational, sustained commitment from the government regarding the safety of women.

·        WE STRONGLY ADVISE that the govt should make itself more accessible, keeping the public informed regarding the actions it is taking regarding these issues on a routine basis (for instance, through regular press conferences even after the media hype has died down).
o   We feel this is ESSENTIAL for the following reasons:
§  To overcome the trust deficit and restore faith of the citizenry
§  To make sure that there is no scope left for the opposition to politicise the issue/appropriate the agenda/claim credit for campaign outcomes (hopefully there will be some”) started by the present government if it comes into power at a later date.
o   This can be done through buying time on TV, press conferences, longer, reassuring Obama-like speeches by government representatives with oratory skills, through radio, websites, Facebook, twitter, YouTube. Find out how Modi does it – that’s his secret weapon. We must feel that the government is engaging with us DIRECTLY and REGULARLY.
·        We do not demand resignations; but we DO demand quick action, safety, engagement, communication and justice.

DRAFTED BY:
§  VANYA VAIDEHI BHARGAV
§  BIKRAMADITYA BOSE
§  ILA BOSE
§  ISHITA KAUL
§  BARKHA TANVIR

11 comments:

Ela said...

Ela Gupta

mardybum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saryu said...

Saryu Dahra

Pranav Ravikumar said...

You can add my name. However, here's a simpler process- create a petition on change.org. Just follow the easy procedure, upload the word document and forward the petition to everyone you know through the various social networking platforms. They just need to add their name to it, and collation is taken care of by the website. It will be comparatively easier.

Pranav

Shreya Roy Chowdhury said...

I agree with this list of demands.
- Shreya Roy Chowdhury

(Two points -
1. Typo - "We fear that in trying to safe THIS particular victim..." - save.
2. Remove the indirect praise (or whatever it is supposed to be) of Narendra Modi. Please. It's unnecessary.)

Vanya said...

thanks Pranav. Have done it. please could you sign the petition!

Anonymous said...

Mansi tikoo

Mohit Chauhan said...

Mohit Chauhan

Vanya said...

Shreya - i cant seem to edit the petition now. And its most certaintly NOT praise for Modi. But was a provocative statement to the government to learn from his shrewd methods.

thederekmichael said...

really good suggestions... but meet a stupid guy today and according to him the rape was the fault of the girl. Our old folks are like that and the mentality will be like that even if the next generation changes.

Mohit Chauhan said...

Vanya, it would be great if you can share the link of the petition (change.org) here also. So that people can easily reach there after reading the demands here..I suggest you to please post that link above this "WOMEN'S SAFETY - DEMANDS AND SUGGESTIONS" post..

Regards,
Mohit