Posts Tagged ‘Human rights’

By Newzfirst Correspondent4/12/13

 

New Delhi – After learning from Soni Sori’s lawyers that she is being subjected to a psychiatric evaluation by the Chhattisgarh government in Central Jail, Jagdalpur, women’s rights groups Thursday termed this as an attempt to declare her mentally unsound, thus creating doubts over her complaints of sexual torture in police custody and subsequent harassment in jail.

“This ‘psychiatric evaluation’ appears to be a sinister ploy by the Chhattisgarh Government to discredit Soni’s serious and genuine complaints against the police and jail authorities for her sexual torture (confirmed by doctors of NRS Hospital, Kolkata) and harassment and denial of human rights of prisoners in Raipur jails (verified by NHRC),” rights groups said in a letter addressed to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh on Thursday.

Soni Sori, a tribal teacher from Chhattisgarh, was jailed on charges of aiding Maoists in October 2011. Presently, she is kept in the Central Jail of Jagdalpur. Sori was arrested in Delhi on 7 October 2011 and was handed over to Chhattisgarh police the next day.

“On the night of 8.10.2011, from 12 midnight to 2:30 am, SP Ankit Garg called me into a room in the police station, gave me electric shocks (current shock), took my clothes off and severely tortured me”, Sori wrote in a letter addressed to the Supreme Court last year.

On 2 December 2011, the report submitted by NRS Medical Hospital established that two stones were found in her private parts and rectum, clearly corroborating the veracity of Soni Sori’s charge.

“It needs to be recalled that following her custodial torture in October 2011, Soni Sori was denied proper medical examination and treatment in Chhattisgarh. The medical authorities in Raipur, instead of investigating Soni Sori’s injuries due to sexual torture, labelled her a malingerer (a person feigning illness), entirely dismissing her extensive injuries. It was only when Soni Sori was taken to Kolkata under the orders of the Supreme Court that stones thrust into her private parts came to light,” the letter, addressed to Chhattisgarh CM, read.

Teams from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission of Women (NCW) had visited Raipur Central Jail in November and December 2012, following complaints of ill-treatment of Soni Sori and other women prisoners.

Following this visit, the NHRC had confirmed that “Soni Sori has on several occasions been singled out for harsh and humiliating ill-treatment” and has been subjected to “traumatic ordeals and odious practices” while in Central Jail, Raipur.

While the official report of the NCW visit is still pending, the observation of the visiting NCW member Shamina Shafiq that Soni Sori needed “psychological counselling” in order to cope with her traumatic experience of sexual abuse in police custody, was extensively covered in the media. However, Annie Raja of NFIW, who was also part of the NCW team visiting the Raipur jail, had rebutted this observation and clarified that “Soni Sori had been very articulate in her meeting with the NCW, and presented her case sharply and precisely. More than counselling, Soni Sori needs justice.”

This casual remark – made by Shamina Shafiq – was taken out of context and was used as the basis for ordering the jail authorities to administer a psychiatric evaluation of Soni Sori, women’s rights activists alleged.

“In March 2013, Ms. Shafiq expressed her outrage that her sympathetic remark regarding Soni Sori was being turned on its head by your government to Soni Sori’s detriment,” they said in the letter to CM Raman Singh.

“Apart from attacking Soni Sori’s credibility as a reliable witness, such a psychiatric evaluation can also serve as a basis for locking her away in a mental health institution for an indefinite period of time and avoid taking action against the police officials involved in her torture,” they added.

A Big thank you from SONI SORI on thousands of post cards she has received , and she says-

Whenever I am Heartbroken I take out each post Card and read it. They give me strength and empower me to Fight

sonisori_postcard

Please continue to send her postcards,

at the following address

sonicard

sonidna

Women Groups Decry Chhattisgarh Government’s Attempt and malafide Intentions to Make Soni Sori Undergo “Psychiatric Evaluation”

National Commission of Women (NCW) and Chhattisgarh Government need to take responsibility for the current situation

 

11.4.2013, New Delhi

 

Several women’s groups today slammed the Chhattisgarh government for its continuing

harassment of the adivasi teacher, Soni Sori, imprisoned in its jails for the past 19 months

since October 2011. Soni Sori, who complained of brutal sexual torture at the hands of

Chhattisgarh police (later confirmed by an independent medical examination by doctors

in Kolkata), is now being subjected to a psychiatric examination by the government in

Jagdalpur Central Jail where she is currently lodged.

In December 2012, an NCW team conducted a jail visit to Raipur Central Jail and met

her in custody. While the NCW report of the visit is still pending, a stray remark made by

the NCW member, Ms. Shamina Shafiq, that Soni Sori needed psychological counselling

to cope with her traumatic experiences in police custody seems to have provided the

Chhattisgarh government the pretext to carry out a full-fledged psychiatric evaluation on

her, with the potential of declaring her mentally unsound and incompetent.

Women’s rights’ activists in the Capital condemned this move by the state government.

Declaring her “mentally unsound” is a disturbing attempt to silence Soni’s voice and cast

doubts on her complaints of sexual torture and ill treatment in jail.

An open letter to the Chief Minister Raman Singh was released today by concerned

women’s organisations demanding that further proceedings in the “psychiatric

evaluation” be immediately quashed. Calling this “a sinister ploy” by the Chhattisgarh

government to discredit Soni’s serious and genuine complaints against the police and jail

authorities for her sexual torture and harassment in Raipur jail, the letter expressed fears

that such an evaluation would be used to attack her credibility as a reliable witness. It

could also serve as a basis for locking her away in a mental health institution for an

indefinite period of time and avoid taking action against the police officials involved in

her torture. This comes at a crucial time when Soni is being acquitted in the various cases

foisted on her; so far, charges in four of the eight cases have been dropped against her.

Ms. Annie Raja, General Secretary of National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW),

who was also part of the NCW team visiting the jail, pointed out that the particular

remark by Ms. Shafiq was not an opinion shared by the entire team and hence does not

have the legitimacy of a formal observation made by the team. Ms. Raja clarified that she

did not think that Soni Sori needed psychological counselling and in the meeting with the

NCW team, she came across as an articulate and aware woman who presented her case

lucidly and sharply. “What Soni needs is justice, not psychological counselling,” Ms.

Raja reiterated.

It was pointed out that after Soni Sori was sexually tortured in police custody in October

2011, the medical authorities in Raipur had dismissed her extensive injuries and labelled

her a malingerer (a person feigning illness). It was only when she was taken to Kolkata

for an independent medical examination under the orders of the Supreme Court that

stones thrust into her private parts during her torture came to light. Following this

investigation, Soni was denied medical attention in Raipur jail, as she continued to suffer

from medical complications arising from her sexual torture. It took another order of the

Supreme Court to bring her to AIIMS, Delhi, where she was finally given adequate

medical treatment and nursed back to health.

“In view of the sheer neglect and ill treatment of Soni Sori on earlier occasions, this

‘psychiatric evaluation’ based upon a third person’s remarks is not indicative of any

sudden concern for her welfare and mental health, but of

malafide intentions of the

government,” reads the open letter to Raman Singh. Noting that the state government has

still not taken cognizance of Soni’s complaint of sexual torture against the then SP of

Dantewada, Ankit Garg, a year and a half ago, the letter called “this sudden and prompt

concern for Soni’s mental well-being” a little disingenuous. The letter also observed that

the visit by the NHRC team to the Raipur jail in November 2012 had indeed confirmed

that “Soni Sori has on several occasions been singled out for harsh and humiliating illtreatment”

and has been subjected to “traumatic ordeals and odious practices” in jail.

Picking up the “suitable” aspect of NCW’s comments and ignoring the findings of the

NHRC makes it clear that Soni’s torture and the attempts to break her down had the

sanction of the highest state authorities.

Women’s groups also denounced the inordinate delay of more than 4 months by the

NCW for making public their findings of the Raipur jail visit. It should be recalled that

the NCW visit to the Raipur Jail was made only at the insistence of various women’s

groups that had, in October 2012, stormed the NCW office in frustration at the

Commission’s inaction in the Soni Sori case. Post the Raipur jail visit, in a meeting with

representatives of women’s groups in March 2013, the NCW member, Ms. Shamina

Shafiq, expressed her dismay at the turn of events with the Chhattisgarh government, and

said that she would immediately take up the matter with the jail authorities in Jagdalpur.

However, more than two weeks later, women’s groups have no information about the

progress on the case. Activists demanded to know the reason for this delay.

Instead of helping Soni Sori and other jail inmates get justice, this visit seems to have

only backfired and created more problems. The organisations demanded to know when

the NCW will step in to stop further victimisation of Soni and release their report that

will clarify the context in which the NCW’s observations were made.

Signed by:

 

All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA); All India Progressive Women’s

 

Association (AIPWA); Citizens’ Collective against Sexual Assault; Jagori; National

 

Federation of Indian Women (NFIW); Saheli; Women Against Sexual Violence and State

 

Repression (WSS).

 

SP

 

CURTAIN RAISER

The NHRC is holding a two day camp sitting 11-12th April in Raipur in which out of 26 cases of which case number 21 on the cause list is the. Torture of Soni Sori in police custody Dantewada
517/33/3/2011, (L.F.541/33/3/2011, 548/33/3/2011, 518/33/3/2011)

New Delhi, April 8, 2013

The National Human Rights Commission was set up under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 with a mandate to promote and protect the human rights in the country and it is actively engaged in this task since its inception. In its efforts to reach out to the far-flung areas, the Commission has been organizing its Camp Sittings in different parts of the country. The aim of the Camp Sittings is to dispose of pending cases concerning one particular State by hearing the senior government officers; sensitize them about the importance of human rights issues and compliance of NHRC recommendations by them; meet the local NGOs to get an insight into the problems being faced by the people. In the past, the NHRC has held Camp Sittings in the States of U.P., Bihar, Bengaluru (for four southern States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu), Odisha, Gujarat, Assam and Meghalaya. The Commission has now decided to hold its Camp Sitting at Raipur in the State of Chhattisgarh on 11th-12th April, 2013. A delegation of the National Human Rights Commission headed by Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson, Justice Shri B.C. Patel and Shri Satyabrata Pal, Members, Director General (Investigation) and other senior officers will be attending the Camp Sitting at Raipur. On the opening day of the Camp Sitting on 11.04.2013, the Commission has decided to take up 26 cases in Full Commissin and Division Bench Sittings to be held at New Circuit House, Civil Lines, Raipur. 19 cases shall be taken up by the Full Commission comprising Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson, Justice Shri B.C. Patel, Member and Shri Satyabrata Pal, Member. 7 cases of deaths in police action shall be taken up by the Division Bench comprising Justice Shri B.C. Patel, Member and Shri Satyabrata Pal, Member. The cases to be taken up during the Camp Sitting, among others, include the following: Excesses by Salwa Judum Members, Torture in Police custody, Atrocities on SCs, Malnutrition, sexual abuse of students, reconstruction of school buildings, damaged /destroyed by naxalites, Death of under trial prisoner in judicial custody, Deaths in alleged fake encounter, medical negligence etc. On the second day of the Camp Sitting i.e. 12.4.2013, the Commission will hold a meeting with local NGOs on human rights issues at New Circuit House, Civil Lines, Raipur from 10.00 AM to 11.30 AM. Thereafter, the Commission will hold discussions at the same venue with the Chief Secretary, DGP, DMs, SPs and other senior civil, police and jail officers on the issues raised by the NGOs and on the following issues: ¢ Strategy of the State Government to combat naxalism in the state. ¢ Atrocities committed on tribals in districts of Bastar and Dantewada by Police, security forces and Salwa Judum. ¢ Relief and rehabilitation of tribal victims of violence by security forces and naxalites. ¢ Education for tribal children in Bastar and Dantewada district. ¢ PDS system in the State ¢ Prison Reforms. ¢ Bonded Labour & Child Labour. ¢ Manual Scavenging & Sanitation. ¢ Status of implementation of recommendations of Shri K.B. Saxena’s report on SCs. ¢ Visit of Dr. L. Mishra, Spl. Rapporteur, NHRC to Raipur on 24-27 Mar.2008 ¢ Human Rights Education at State Level. ¢ Indignity to women – practice of witchcraft. ¢ Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act. ¢ Silicosis ¢ Leprosy ¢ Intimation about deaths in police/judicial custody within 24 hours of occurrence. ¢ Intimation about death in police encounter. ¢ Intimation about death in State Government Homes/Juvenile Homes/Probation Homes. ¢ Timely submission of the legible copies of the reports by the authorities. ¢ Delay in submission of compliance reports. ¢ Non-registration of FIR by the police in time

A delegation of the Commission shall also visit Dantewada and a relief camp near Dantewada to assess the relief and rehabilitation measures undertaken by the State Government for the affected persons. On the conclusion of the Camp Sitting, Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan and Members of the Commission would brief the media about the outcome of the Camp Sitting as well as discussions with the NGOs and senior officers of the State Government for wider dissemination of information on the human rights issues and action taken by the NHRCfor their protection and promotion. In its endeavour to implement the recommendations made by Shri K.B. Saxena, IAS (Retd.) in his report submitted by him after carrying out a study about the atrocities against persons belonging to Scheduled Castes, on the request of the Commission, public hearings on various issues relating to atrocities and problems faced by Scheduled Castes, have also been held in various parts of the country. So far, such Public Hearings have been held in the States of Odisha, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The response of the people to the public hearings of the Commission was very encouraging.

 

download cause list here

CAUSE_LIST_CG_11_12_APR_2013

Posted March 8, 2013 by Shiney Varghese

Soni Sori is an Adivasi school teacher who was arrested, tortured and sexually assaulted by Chhattisgarh state police in 2011.

As the world was getting ready to usher in the New Year, most Indians were mourning the death of one of their young women, gang-raped on the night of December 16 on a bus that she boarded along with her companion. This is not the first time a woman was raped while travelling, nor was it the first time ayoung middle-class woman was gang-raped. Yet it galvanized the young and the old, women and men of India in a manner that had not happened before. There were many gatherings across the country to protest and mourn; there was an outpouring of grief and anger online too.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, I am most acutely aware of the grim reality faced by most women in this world: gender-based violence. It manifests itself differently in different cultures, but is omnipresent all the same.

Gendered violence is intrinsically linked to women’s livelihoods as well, such as women’s roles in agriculture and food systems: as farmers, agricultural laborers, food processors, and finally as the main persons responsible for providing and preparing food for homes.

Sheelu, a feminist activist with Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective, realized early on that sexual violence was an everyday reality for the women that the collective worked with, whether they were engaged in a household related activity (collecting water or firewood) or an economic activity (collecting fodder, employed in a agri-processing factory). Campaigns against gender-based violence quickly became one of the central focuses of the women’s collective. These campaigns, in turn, created the conditions for the collective’s members to begin other work to empower women within the community and the region to address resource rights to improve their livelihoods. They became much stronger political actors able to more effectively claim their rights to food and land, something they could not have done without first addressing the violence that held them back at every turn.

Violence against women occurs in a multiple contexts: in the family, in the field, at the workplace, during caste, religious and communal conflicts, as well as by police and state officials. Sexual violence is used to control women (within the household or within the community), or the class/community she belongs to (e.g., in conflicts over land, inter-caste or communal violence or state-sponsored violence) in the event of a conflict. In contexts where women have no access to economic assets, they often have no recourse but to tolerate domestic violence.

Moreover, if the woman belongs to a community that is already in the margins of society, such acts of violence are often carried out with impunity, as is in the case of indigenous women in Canada, Native American women in the United States or Dalit women in India. According to Violence Against Dalit Women, the plight of Dalit (SC) women “seems much more alarming when one looks at the data pertaining to serious crimes such as rape and murder.” Simply put, women’s bodies often become the battleground for a number of different kinds of fights: cultural, communal, ethnic, racial, social, economic and domestic, and these fights can take place anywhere, public or private.

In the case of developing countries that are undergoing rapid urbanization and industrialization, the state can perpetuate or be complicit in human rights violations, as can be seen from the attempts to silence vocal women such as Soni Sori and several other less well known women in India. Similarly, when communities faced with displacement or destruction of livelihoods choose to exert their right to homeland and livelihoods, companies in search of metals and minerals may even resort to violence to silence them. Survivors of the gang rape of the eleven Q’eqchi’ women of Guatemala are suing the Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals Inc. and its subsidiary HMI Nickel for its role in the violence against women protesting its operations.

But the winds are changing: Thousands of ordinary women around the world joined organizers of one billion rising marking a day of action to protest against violence against women and girls last month. As if in recognition of the changing mood of millions of people, when the 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-57) meets at the United Nations in New York this week (March 4–15), its focus is on violence against women and the priority theme is the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. A multitude of events are held this International Women’s Day to protest violence against women, seek justice and celebrate the distance we have traveled over the last century.

sonidna

DNA, March 8, 2013

Soni Sori, a young adivasi teacher from Chhattisgarh, has been in police custody since October 2011. She was arrested in Delhi on October 4, 2011 and charged with being a conduit between the Essar Group and Maoists. She was taken to the Dantewada police station, where she was allegedly raped and tortured with stones inserted into her vagina and rectum.

Suppressing the voice
Sori has been outspoken while questioning human rights violations by police and security forces in Chhattisgarh. “The Chhattisgarh government wants adivasis to stop organising, agitating or protesting abuse of human rights,” Himanshu Kumar, member of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said.
“Once labelled Maoists, terrorists or something equally convenient the system finds it easy to go after them,” says Kamayani  Bali Mahabal

Roll of shame

Dantewada SP Ankit Garg who Soni Sori has named as responsible for the sexual torture was presented the President’s gallantry award this Republic Day. He says the allegations made against him are all false. “Her Maoist mentors in Delhi and Mumbai are making her say all this… They are using her to gain mileage.”

Fight for her


Protest against sexual crimes has been on the rise, but Soni Sori’s story does not find any place inmedia and  public discussion on legislation against sexual violence. “This is what we’ll address with the ‘One Billion Rising For Soni Sori’ today,” says  human rights activist Kamayani  Bali Mahabal.