Housewives, prostitutes and beggars

I recently participated in a TV discussion on why prostitution is on the rise in the country. I shared the panel with a closet feminist and a radical feminist, both of whom were of the opinion that prostitution was better than marriage since the house is unsafe for a woman, and she would at least get paid for her services if she were a prostitute.

I returned home thinking about their wise utterances and went to bed discussing the same with my husband.

I said, “For decades, feminists have claimed that one out of three women is unsafe in her own house. They have told us horrendous tales about how it was daily grind for men in the country to abuse, assault, set afire and murder their wives. They lobbied for laws which would facilitate a woman breaking her shackles and barging out of the “tyrannical household” or throwing her alleged oppressors out, whichever is convenient. They ensured that every woman who had a problem “clearly understood” that all her problems were because of men, marriage and the household.”

“By the same token,” I continued, “feminists have also been shouting off of rooftops that streets are terribly unsafe for women. They claim that everyday nine out of ten women are subject to manhandling, rape, sexual assault, acid attacks and what not. While they believe that, ideally, a woman should able to walk safely on the street at midnight, they are constantly scaring themselves and the rest of us in the society about how women are unsafe on the street even during the day.”

“What then, is the solution for women? Where do they go? What can they do?” I wondered loudly.

All of a sudden my husband had an epiphany and said, “A WHOREHOUSE!”

“YES,” I agreed, “This is brilliant! It is neither the house nor the street. It is something in between – the utopia that my feminist friends on TV spoke so highly of. They have to be right. That’s where they think our women would be safest, well paid and properly fed, and that’s why prostitution, with the more fashionable label of ‘commercial sex’, is on the rise.”

I then thought of how far we have come thanks to the feminist movement from pre-independence days.

We had a time when prostitution was a recognized profession and we had the Devadasi system. The system was severely condemned by communists as the handmaid of patriarchy. Their unrelenting crusade against the oldest profession resulted in a legislation for the “prevention of immoral trafficking” in 1956.

While this “prohibitive” legislation decriminalized prostitution, a few decades later, the Government went a step ahead and tacitly legalized commercial sex and sex tourism, recognizing how it can financially empower women and thereby boost the economy.

Today, we are at a point where we are talking about prostitute rights. While we have women’s rights champions like Brinda Karat who proclaim that “Society should have no right to control what women wear or do”, we have others who say, “If you respect a woman’s right to say “no” to sex, you should also respect her right to say “yes” to sex.”

Simultaneously, all heterosexual relationships have been prostitutionalized so that a woman can claim compensation for all sexual or non-sexual, real or imaginary interactions at any time during or after the relationship.

A woman who chooses her hearth and home is not left behind either. She is tagged with the honorary title of “prostitute” as feminists believe that she is unaware that she is only trading sex for social and financial security, and they will not take “no” for an answer.

We surely have come a long way, baby!

While I was still marvelling at this astounding progress, I saw a news item which said that the recent Government Census clubbed housewives, prostitutes and beggars into a group. What a timely gesture by the Government!

While housewives have already been clubbed with prostitutes, would it not be unfair to ignore the scores of women who have taken to a glorified form of begging by standing before the Courts of Law for maintenance and alimony from their estranged husbands?

Feminists have not only taught women to shun all the age-old encumbrances imposed by marriage and family but also to shed all inhibitions associated with parasitic living. Accordingly, there is no trace of shame in these modern liberated women, but it is with a sense of pride and entitlement that they artfully exact money, thus claiming their rightful inclusion by the Government in the club.

The feminists have reduced housewives into prostitutes and beggars long ago. The Government has just made it official by grouping them in the Census.

Why, then, is the Supreme Court cross about it? Beats me!

Copyright ©Uma Challa, 2010

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The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill – 2010

The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill 2010 focuses on women’s right to protection against sexual harassment at the workplace. The Bill cites their right to equality, right to life and right to live in dignity enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

The Bill and its architects patently undermine the basic truth that sexual harassment is neither about sex nor gender, that it is about power, and that a woman in power can be every bit as abusive as a man.

Most importantly, the Bill undermines the Indian Constitution and its provisions which state that men and women have the same right to equality, the same right to life and the same right to live in dignity.

The Bill implies that it is alright for men to be subjected to sexual harassment including unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, physical contact, advances, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, sexual demand, request for sexual favours or any other unwelcome conduct of sexual nature whether verbal, textual, physical, graphic or electronic or by any other means.

The Bill requires that Committees for redressing grievances be comprised of persons “committed to the cause of women”, thus, betraying NCW’s never-ending urge to pamper the female AT ANY COST, even if it means innocent men are penalized, the law and justice dispensation system are taken for a ride, and public resources and time are squandered to satisfy the whim of a dishonest, criminal minded, depraved woman. With Committees filled with individuals “committed to the cause of women” and not to the cause of truth, law and justice, is it hard to foretell the fate of males in an institution or the society as a whole?

The Bill contains provisions for “conciliation” and “settlement” between the “aggrieved” woman and the respondent. If “conciliation” happens and “settlement” is arrived at, no further inquiry will be conducted but if “conciliation” fails and “settlement” is not arrived at, then an enquiry will be conducted.  Similarly, if the terms and conditions of “conciliation” and “settlement” are not met by the accused man, an enquiry will be conducted.

When sexual harassment at workplace is hyped as a grievous crime which warrants a special stringent law, what is the purpose of the “conciliation” and “settlement” plan? Is it not simply a new means to blackmail a man to heed to the terms and conditions of the so-called “aggrieved” woman?  In what way is this law different from dowry and rape laws, which are used as weapons of legal terrorism and extortion?

The provision for monetary compensation to the “aggrieved woman” is quite an incentive to convert harmless non-sexual interactions and consensual sexual interactions into sexual harassment as per the complainant’s convenience or whim and opens up a novel and lucrative money earning mechanism.

The Bill requires that up to one fourth of an employee’s salary, or proceeds from sale of his goods or property should be paid as compensation to the “aggrieved” woman. The liability to pay monetary compensation will be treated like arrears of land revenue, and the accused will be forced to cough up money under the threat of imprisonment and fine. In other words, the punishment for not paying compensation is bigger than the penalty for the alleged offence of sexual harassment (i.e. apology, suspension, termination of job etc.).

The NCW has outdone itself once again by inventing a new concept of “punishment”, and concomitantly, a new business model, with least regard to addressing the offence of sexual harassment or the social need to provide a secure working environment for men and women.

With such egregious provisions, will not the Bill tempt women to make false allegations of harassment to claim monetary compensation or force settlements? Will it not encourage persons to sexually harass someone and pay up to be let off the hook  – in essence, the richer the person, the more their unsaid “post-paid harassing privileges” and the easier their escape from punishment?

The Bill goes a step further to encourage women to misuse the provision as it leaves it to the discretion of the concerned organization to take action when a woman files a false complaint or furnishes false evidence.

In addition, the Bill grants immunity to misusers of the provisions by precluding all information including identities of the parties, information related to “conciliation” and “settlement”, enquiry proceedings, findings and decisions or actions from the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Bill defeats the main purpose of the RTI Act which is to maintain transparency and accountability in the system and disempowers the persons involved by violating their right to know details pertaining to their own case.

While any fair minded person would frown upon the Bill for the reasons stated above, one cannot help being appalled at the audacity and impudence exhibited by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in making the most sexist and discriminatory remarks as a defence for not making the Bill gender neutral.  The Ministry stated –

“The overwhelming nature of sexual harassment is sexual harassment of women on account of their female sex. Harassment of men cannot be put on the same footing character wise or incidence wise. Protection of men is also not the mandate of Ministry of WCD”.

Countries around the world including the US, UK, and all member countries of the European Union have gender neutral sexual harassment prevention laws. Even Pakistan, which passed a similar Bill in January 2010, embraced the principle of gender neutrality. However, the Indian Ministry of WCD is deliberately ignoring the nature and gravity of sexual harassment, espousing the most regressive approach, and revealing its brazenly anti-male and anti-social agenda.

It is also worth perusing the track record of NCW in cases of sexual harassment against women. For instance, 3 years ago, Mrs. Archana Pandey, a middle aged Indian woman, filed a complaint of sexual harassment and attempt to rape on the UNICEF India Chief, Cecilio Adorna, and subsequently approached the NCW for assistance. The seriousness of the allegations notwithstanding, NCW adopted an apathetic and nonchalant approach leaving Mrs. Pandey to her own devices in her fight against a huge International organization. This is just one instance which exemplifies the double standards and moral bankruptcy of the principal architect of the Bill.

It should be noted that through this Bill, which smacks of desperation to pamper unscrupulous women, the NCW and WCD are taking yet another step towards disempowering women. The Bill is not only insulting to self-respecting, honest and hardworking women but it can also discourage employers from employing competent and reasonably qualified women for the fear of this proverbial “Sword of Damocles” hanging over their heads.

Thousands of concerned citizens and several organizations have sent representations requesting the Ministry of WCD to make the Bill gender neutral and to include a strict provision to address misuse. The Union Law Ministry strongly favoured the incorporation of a misuse clause to avoid situations similar to those being faced in domestic violence and dowry harassment cases.

Nevertheless, this Monsoon Session will witness the tabling of another Bill which tramples upon men and demeans women, a Bill which neither cares about preventing sexual harassment nor about providing security at the workplace, a Bill which is yet another weapon of blackmail and extortion, a Bill which promotes gender war.

If the esteemed members of the Parliament throw all caution to the wind and let this Bill pass, the country would have no choice but to brace itself and be ready to face a social Tsunami.


 

[Enter Post Title Here]

The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill – 2010
 
The Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill (SHWB) 2010 focuses on women’s right to protection against sexual harassment at the workplace. The bill cites their right to equality, right to life and right to live in dignity enshrined in the Indian Constitution. 
 
The Bill and its architects patently undermine the basic truth that sexual harassment is neither about sex nor gender, that it is about power, and that a woman in power can be every bit as abusive as a man.
 
Most importantly, the Bill undermines the Indian Constitution and its provisions which state that men and women have the same right to equality, the same right to life and the same right to live in dignity.
 

The Bill implies that it is alright for men to be subjected to sexual harassment including unwelcome sexually determined behaviour, physical contact, advances, sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography, sexual demand, request for sexual favours or any other unwelcome conduct of sexual nature whether verbal, textual, physical, graphic or electronic or by any other means.

The Bill requires that Committees for redressing grievances be comprised of persons “committed to the cause of women”, thus, betraying NCW’s never-ending urge to pamper the female AT ANY COST, even if it means innocent men are penalized, the law and justice dispensation system are taken for a ride, and public resources and time are squandered to satisfy the whim of a dishonest, criminal minded, depraved woman. With Committees filled with individuals committed to the “cause of women” and not to the cause of truth, law and justice, is it hard to foretell the fate of males in an institution or the society as a whole?

The Bill contains provisions for “conciliation” and “settlement” between the “aggrieved” woman and the respondent. If “conciliation” happens and “settlement” is arrived at, no further inquiry will be conducted but if “conciliation” fails and “settlement” is not arrived at, then an enquiry will be conducted.  Similarly, if the terms and conditions of “conciliation” and “settlement” are not met by the accused man, an enquiry will be conducted.

When sexual harassment at workplace is hyped as a grievous crime which warrants a special stringent law, what is the purpose of the “conciliation” and “settlement” plan? Is it not simply a new means to blackmail a man to heed to the terms and conditions of the so-called “aggrieved” woman?  In what way is this law different from dowry and rape laws, which are used as weapons of legal terrorism and extortion?

The provision for monetary compensation to the “aggrieved woman” is quite an incentive to convert harmless non-sexual interactions and consensual sexual interactions into sexual harassment as per the complainant’s convenience or whim and opens up a novel and lucrative money earning mechanism.

The Bill requires that up to one fourth of an employee’s salary, or proceeds from sale of his goods or property should be paid as compensation to the “aggrieved” woman. The liability to pay monetary compensation will be treated like arrears of land revenue, and the accused will be forced to cough up money under the threat of imprisonment and fine. In other words, the punishment for not paying compensation is bigger than the penalty for the alleged offence of sexual harassment (i.e. apology, suspension, termination of job etc.).

The NCW has outdone itself once again by inventing a new concept of “punishment”, and concomitantly, a new business model, with least regard to addressing the offence of sexual harassment or the social need to provide a secure working environment for men and women.

With such egregious provisions, will not the Bill tempt women to make false allegations of harassment to claim monetary compensation or force settlements? Will it not encourage persons to sexually harass someone and pay up to be let off the hook  – in essence, the richer the person, the more their unsaid “post-paid harassing privileges” and the easier their escape from punishment?

The Bill goes a step further to encourage women to misuse the provision as it leaves it to the discretion of the Organization to take action when a woman files a false complaint or furnishes false evidence.

In addition, the Bill grants immunity to misusers of the provisions by precluding all information including identities of the parties, information related to “conciliation” and “settlement”, enquiry proceedings, findings and decisions or actions from the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Bill defeats the main purpose of the RTI Act which is to maintain transparency and accountability in the system and disempowers the persons involved by violating their right to know details pertaining to their own case.

While any fair minded person would frown upon the Bill for the reasons stated above, one cannot help being appalled at the audacity and impudence exhibited by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in making the most sexist and discriminatory remarks as a defence for not making the Bill gender neutral.  The Ministry stated –

“The overwhelming nature of sexual harassment is sexual harassment of women on account of their female sex. Harassment of men cannot be put on the same footing character wise or incidence wise. Protection of men is also not the mandate of Ministry of WCD”.

Countries around the world including the US, UK, and all member countries of the European Union have gender neutral sexual harassment prevention laws. Even Pakistan, which passed a similar Bill in January 2010, embraced the principle of gender neutrality. However, the Indian Ministry of WCD is deliberately ignoring the nature and gravity of sexual harassment, espousing the most regressive approach, and revealing its brazenly anti-male and anti-social agenda.

It is also worth perusing the track record of NCW in cases of sexual harassment against women. For instance, 3 years ago, Mrs. Archana Pandey, a middle aged Indian woman, filed a complaint of sexual harassment and attempt to rape on the UNICEF India Chief Cecilio Adorna, and subsequently approached the NCW for assistance. The seriousness of the allegations notwithstanding, NCW adopted an apathetic and nonchalant approach leaving Mrs. Pandey to her own devices in her fight against a huge International organization. This is just one instance which exemplifies the double standards and moral bankruptcy of the principal architect of the Bill.

It should be noted that through this Bill, which smacks of desperation to pamper unscrupulous women, the NCW and WCD are taking yet another step towards disempowering women. The Bill is not only insulting to self-respecting, honest and hardworking women but it can actually discourage employers from employing competent and reasonably qualified women for the fear of this proverbial “Sword of Damocles” hanging over their heads.

Thousands of concerned citizens and several organizations have sent representations requesting the Ministry of WCD to make the Bill gender neutral and to include a strict provision to address misuse. The Union Law Ministry strongly favoured the incorporation of a misuse clause to avoid situations similar to those being faced in domestic violence and dowry harassment cases.

Nevertheless, this Monsoon Session will witness the tabling of another Bill which tramples upon men and demeans women, a Bill which neither cares about preventing sexual harassment nor about providing security at the workplace, a Bill which is yet another weapon of blackmail and extortion, a Bill which promotes gender war.

If the esteemed members of the Parliament throw all caution to the wind and let this Bill pass, the country would have no choice but to brace itself and be ready to face a social Tsunami.

Jail Bharo Photos

Please find photos of Jail Bharo Andolan in Hyderabad at the following link:

http://picasaweb.google.com/trpartha/6JulProtest?authkey=Gv1sRgCNWB_5To_IjZIg&feat=content_notification#

Memo to Commissioner of Police – Hyderabad

The following is the memo submitted to the Commissioner of Police in Hyderabad on 6 July 2010, as part of our Jail Bharo Andolan.

*****

6 July 2010

To

The Commissioner of Police

Hyderabad

Subject: Joint Memo by AIFWA and AIMWA seeking strict measures to end the misuse of anti-dowry laws.

Dear Sir,

I am writing on behalf of All India Forgotten Women’s Association – an organization dedicated to promoting true gender equality and fighting against the misuse of protections and privileges granted to women – and All India Men’s Welfare Association – an organization working for men’s welfare and fighting against all forms of discrimination and abuse against boys and men.

At the outset, we would like to thank you for allowing us to stage a peaceful demonstration in support of Sri. Ravindra Gangurde’s “Jail Bharo Andolan”. We would also like to use this opportunity to present before you, the changes we seek in the law enforcement system to check misuse of IPC Section 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act, and related wife-centric laws which presume that the accused are “guilty until proven innocent”, and have therefore turned into lethal weapons of blackmail and extortion.

Several authorities have noted that in close to 98% of cases filed under IPC 498A, the accusations are false and that the complaints were only filed with ulterior motives. Several authorities have noted the wide spread misuse of this law.

  • The Supreme Court of India termed the misuse of IPC Section 498A as “Legal Terrorism”.
  • The Delhi High Court termed IPC Section 498A “the most abused provision”.
  • The World Health Organization, in its report on India clearly cited Section 498A as one of the major reasons for the “Increasing Abuse of the Elderly in India”.
  • News reports revealed that many falsely charged, poor and illiterate women are languishing in prison every year.
  • News agencies have also reported many cases where individuals have ended their lives unable to endure the humiliation of being arrested and the trauma of fighting false cases, which typically span 5-7 years.
  • The National Human Rights Commission noted that the Tihar jail is overflowing with people falsely accused under dowry cases.

The High Court of Andhra Pradesh made several judgments commenting on the misuse of anti-dowry laws. The Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad issued standing instructions vide memo No.L&O/M6/1315/2002 to check arbitrary arrests under anti-dowry laws. The AP Police Dept. has even launched a web page entitled “Abuse of 498A” on the Dept. website. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to all the State Governments and Union Territories on checking the misuse of Section 498A.

Nevertheless, abuse of police powers continues and lower cadre police officials keep making arrests without proper justification and only with the intent of terrorizing innocent citizens and extorting money from them under the threat of imprisonment and long-drawn legal battles.

Police routinely enter people’s homes at ungodly hours, take accused men and women into custody, and incarcerate them in the name of “protecting women from cruelty and harassment”. Innocent citizens are illegally detained, humiliated, subjected to mental and physical torture, blackmail and extortion.

Misuse of laws like IPC Section 498A are harming men, women and children of India. Due to misuse of Section 498A numerous families have been broken beyond repair and are suffering immeasurable economic hardship and emotional trauma. In addition to penalizing innocent citizens, a large backlog of false cases pending in courts prevents genuine victims of abuse from obtaining justice. The country has already incurred a huge social cost in addition to the enormous financial burden imposed on the public exchequer.

The number of fatherless children and single mothers is rapidly growing due to criminalization of marital disputes and involvement of Police in the name of “counselling”. Of late, there is also a rise in the number of suicides and spousal murders due to misuse of anti-dowry laws, unwarranted arrests and imprisonment of ordinary law-abiding citizens. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the mindless application of IPC Section 498A is making criminals out of ordinary citizens.

In light of the above-mentioned facts, members of All India Forgotten Women’s Association and All India Men’s Welfare Association, hereby, seek the following changes in the law enforcement system to check misuse of anti-dowry laws, to promote family harmony, to ensure that the innocent are protected and justice is delivered to the genuinely aggrieved irrespective of gender.

1. Ban Police involvement in marital counselling.

Marriage is a civil matter and should be treated as such. Marital issues should be dealt with utmost caution so that harmony is restored between disputing spouses. Allowing Police intervention in everyday marital issues and allowing them to indiscriminately file criminal cases on the accused husband and in-laws is resulting in destruction of families.

2. Allow no arrests without written permission of Senior Police Authorities.

It has become routine for lower cadre Police personnel to make arrests of innocent people based on mere allegations, without proof or investigation. Strict measures have to be taken so that no arrests of any of the accused (man, woman or child) are made without proper investigation and written approval of police officials of the rank of DCP or above.

3. Ensure that “dowry-givers” are promptly prosecuted.

The family members alleging “dowry torture” or “dowry killing” of their daughter should be promptly prosecuted if they allege or are found to have given dowry because according to Dowry Prohibition Act, giving dowry is also a crime.

Until the above changes are made and unless strict measures are taken to prevent lower cadre police officials from abusing their powers in the name of “protecting women from cruelty and harassment”, we would be constrained to encourage ordinary citizens to fill up prisons and not apply for bail as a sign of protest.

We hope that you will take our recommendations and suggestions into serious consideration and promote justice and fairness irrespective of gender.

Thanking you.

Sincerely,

Uma Challa

For All India Forgotten Women’s Association & All India Men’s Welfare Association

PRESS RELEASE – 6 JULY 2010 – JAIL BHARO!

Today, All India Forgotten Women’s Association and All India Men’s Welfare Association are staging a peaceful demonstration near the Women Police Station, CCS, Hyderabad, between 10:00-11:00 a.m. as a sign of protest against arbitrary arrests of ordinary law-abiding citizens under IPC Sections 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act and related laws. This demonstration is in support of Mr. Ravindra Gangurde’s call for a nationwide “Jail Bharo Andolan”.

It is a well-known fact that today, a husband and his kin can be arrested upon mere allegations of a wife, without any evidence or investigation under IPC Sections 498A, 304B, Dowry Prohibition Act, and related wife-centric laws which presume that the accused are “guilty until proven innocent”.

The real motive behind these arrests is to terrorize ordinary law-abiding citizens and to extort money from them under the threat of imprisonment and long-drawn legal battles.

It has to be noted that complaints on celebrities and influential persons are treated with utmost care, investigation to ascertain facts is given great importance, and in almost all cases arrest is avoided, whereas, ordinary law-abiding citizens are abused, threatened, blackmailed and arrested in gross violation of our Constitutional and Human Rights.

Several authorities have observed that anti-dowry laws are among the most abused laws in India:

  • The President of India, High Courts of various States, the Supreme Court of India and the World Health Organization have noted the misuse of dowry laws.
  • The National Human Rights Commission has issued guidelines to stop unnecessary arrests.
  • The Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, issued standing instructions through a memo vide No.L&O/M6/1315/2002 to check arbitrary arrests.
  • The AP Police Dept. has a web page entitled “Abuse of 498A” on their Department website.
  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to all the State Governments and Union Territories on checking the misuse of Section 498A.

Our numerous pleas to the Government of India to stop arbitrary arrests of citizens under IPC Section 498A have fallen on deaf ears. On the other hand, new laws are always on the anvil (sexual assault, work place harassment, acid attacks etc.) which stress on immediate arrest of men upon mere accusations made by women.

Under the present circumstances, it is imperative that our fathers, brothers and sons are prepared to go to jail along with us even if they committed no crime.

“Jail Bharo” campaign is aimed at freeing ordinary law-abiding male citizens and their kin from the fear of jail and the concomitant feelings of humiliation and suffering so that they do not drive themselves into depression, ruin their health or end their own lives.

We are submitting a memorandum to the Commissioner of Police, Hyderabad, today, to convey our intent to encourage people to fill up prisons and not apply for bail, unless strict measures are taken to prevent lower cadre police officials from abusing their powers in the name of “protecting women from cruelty and harassment”.

We demand a complete ban on Police involvement in marital counseling as marriage is a civil matter, and since Police intervention in everyday marital issues and allowing them to indiscriminately file criminal cases on the accused husband and in-laws is resulting in destruction of families and ruining the lives of scores of individuals.

We also demand that no arrests of any of the accused (man, woman or child) are made without proper investigation and written approval of police officials of the rank of DCP or above. The family members alleging “dowry torture” or “dowry killing” of their daughter should be promptly prosecuted if they allege or are found to have given dowry because according to Dowry Prohibition Act, giving dowry is also a crime.

NOTE: Aryan Vaid, former Mr. India and the first Indian to win Mr. International title endorses our “Jail Bharo” campaign.

Jail Bharo – Placards and flyers

JAIL BHARO CAMPAIGN – 6th July 2010

Flyer – Jail Bharo (English)

Flyer – Jail Bharo (Telugu)

Jail Bharo – Placards