Posts Tagged ‘women 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

New Jersey, March 13, 2013 -Against a background of everincreasing

reports of rape and other violence on women in India, several individuals including the NJ chapter members from Association For India Development ,

People For Loksatta , India Against Chapter, Telangana Development Forum gathered on Friday,

March 8th, in Oak Tree Road, New Jersey to stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of

gender violence in India. Given the growing outrage in India as a result of the recent rape case in

Delhi, the protestors wanted to raise awareness and express anger against the alarming

incidence of violence. This event marked special mention of Soni Sori, an adivasi school teacher

currently held in the Central Jail in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh, India. Similar protests have also

been organized in other cities including Boston, London and several cities in India on the

ocassion of the International Women’s Day on March 8th. Soni Sori has been the symbol of

global protests in the past due to the custodial rape and torture she had to face from the jail

authorities.

Sori was arrested in New Delhi on October 4, 2011 and accused of being a Maoist supporter.

Despite her appeals to cowaurts in New Delhi, she was handed over to the Chhattisgarh police

and taken to the state where she was beaten, sexually assaulted and given electric shocks by

the police. Sori documented her torture in letters she wrote to her lawyer, and which have since

been widely publicized.

A petition in support of Soni Sori was read out by Suresh Ediga, the organizer of the event. The

petition was then signed by all the participants and a copy of the same would be handed over to

the Indian Embassy in New York in the coming days. They then took out a silent march in an

effort to create more awareness about Soni Sori and her fight for justice. Each one of the

participants recorded a 10 second video in support of Soni Sori, as part of the One Billion rising

for Soni Sori. It is noteworthy to mention that Sori has been acquitted in four out of the eight

cases in which she was charged.

Participants also took part in an impromptu discussion and discussed among the other things

why Soni Sori should matter, why tribal issues in remote villages of Chattisgarh should matter

and how citizens can play an active role in bringing transparency and accountability in

governance? Organizers assured that this is just one in a many series of actions to speak

against the injustice and violence that women face on a daily basis.

Pica Avilable  here-https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152675593270192.1073741827.859825191&type=1&l=167eff96d5

sonifb

TNN | Mar 9, 2013, 02.50 AM IST

 

RAIPUR: Standing tall on International Women’s Dayyouths were seen actively participating for the women cause in the state capital.

Over 45 law students of Hidayatullah National Law University, holding banners of Soni Sori, conducted a flash mob of 10 minutes at a city mall here.

On March 8, over one billion people across the world raised voice on Facebook for justice for Soni Sori, a tribal school teacher in Chhattisgarh, who was arrested in 2011 suspecting her to be Maoist.

She had alleged torture and sexual assault by the state police while serving imprisonment. “The convener Guneet Kaur, a student, initiated the step and gathered few students together to fight for justice for Soni Sori.

Slowly we came together in large numbers,” said Paridhi Tulsyan, a law student who participated in the event.

In another event, Balikotsav was conducted by a youth’s group called Aashayen during which more than 1,000 girl students were bestowed with school bags and stationary items. These girls belonged to ‘Bal Shramik’ schools meant for educating children who were in to child labour.

Girls from about 50 schools who participated in the event came out with broad smiles on their faces holding bags and gifts. “They had undergone free health check-ups and were provided free medicines if required. A dance competition was organized was also organized,” said Yash Tuteja, who heads the group.

There are 89 youths who run this group and work for society doing charitable activities, helping educate girl child and working for needy children. Many such events marked the day.

 

Posted: January 19, 2013 in ankit garg, chhattisgarh, SONI SORI, Supreme Court, torture, Uncategorized, Women rights Tags: , , , , , , ,

 

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The National Commission on Women (NCW) is mandated to ‘investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws’, ‘ and ‘take suo moto notice of matters relating to deprivation of women’s rights’. Soni Sori turned to them for support. As early as 10th October, 2011, several women’s groups and activists too, called upon the NCW to take action in Soni’s case.

Read more… 1,738 more words

The National Commission on Women (NCW) is mandated to ‘investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws’, ‘ and ‘take suo moto notice of matters relating to deprivation of women’s rights’. Soni Sori turned to them for support. As early as 10th October, 2011, several women’s groups and activists too, called upon the NCW to take action in Soni’s case. Many visits and appeals later, it became clear that their pleas were falling upon deaf ears. On the 10th of October, 2012, around a hundred women and student activists stormed the NCW office on Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhayay Marg, protesting against its year-long inaction. Video of the protest by women’s groups and activists as they storm the NCW office, demanding action – http://youtu.be/ahCqI3kBNcoOn the 4th of October 2011, Soni Sori a 36-year old adivasi school warden from Dantewada, Chhattisgarh was arrested on false charges of being a Maoist supporter and taken into custody by the Chhattisgarh police, by whom she was brutally tortured and sexually assaulted. Over the past year, her right to life and dignity has been repeatedly violated by jail and police authorities. She has been consistently humiliated and denied medical attention. Today, despite the efforts of various individuals, activists and women’s groups, Soni has received no justice. No action has been taken against the Chhattisgarh police. Instead, Ankit Garg, the SP of Dantewada under whose behest Soni Sori was subjected to sexual violence and torture, was awarded the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry. Soni, however, continues her brave fight against injustice. In an open letter to social workers, activists, the women’s commission and the citizens of India, Soni Sori poignantly asks ‘…by giving me current, by stripping me naked, or by brutally assaulting me [and] inserting stones in my rectum, will the problem of Naxalism end? Why so many atrocities on women?’ Wondering whose support she could seek out in her fight for justice she asks ‘Whom should I have called? It was the courts, themselves, who handed me over to the police’Given that the National Commission on Women (NCW) is mandated to ‘investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws’, ‘ and ‘take suo moto notice of matters relating to deprivation of women’s rights’, one would assume that Soni could turn to them for support, as she rightly has. As early as 10th October, 2011, several women’s groups and activists too, called upon the NCW to take action in Soni’s case. Many visits and appeals later, it became clear that their pleas were falling upon deaf ears. On the 27th of September 2012, representatives of some women’s organisations once again approached the NCW regarding Soni Sori’s case. Despite the fact that the NCW had ordered an inquiry with the Chhattisgarh Police, Hemlata Kheria, Member-in-Charge of Chhattisgarh, was not even aware of Sori’s case. It took two hours for her file to be dug out. The file contained a reply of the Chhattisgarh police dated 17th February, 2012. The NCW had neither taken cognizance of this reply, nor forwarded it to the complainants.protestors outisde the NCW office A fortnight later, on the 10th of October, 2012, around a hundred women and student activists stormed the NCW office on Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhayay Marg, protesting against its year-long inaction. Meeting with the protestors, NCW member secretary Charu Walikhanna informed the group that Soni Sori’s case had been closed by the NCW on the 4th of October, 2012, saying that “since this matter is sub judice in the Supreme Court, it will not be proper for us to intervene.” Their closure report stated that ‘at our end, nothing seems more to be done.’ Once again, the NCW had not bothered to convey its decision to the complainants. Had a simple ‘report’ from the accused in the case – the Chhattisgarh Police – sufficed to convince the NCW of their innocence? Could it have served as grounds enough for the apex national level organization instituted to protect and promote the interests of women, to close down a case of reported torture and sexual violence by a woman prisoner? We are compelled then to ask whether the NCW is effectively addressing the issues for which it had been created and upholding the rights of those whose interests it is supposed to protect. The NCW, established in 1992 under the provisions of the 1990 National Commission for Women Act, was set up to monitor, scrutinize and influence state policies – a body that was located inside the government and yet independent of it – giving it in the dual responsibility of being a watchdog body that constantly scrutinizes and checks anti-people policies of the state and also one that positively helps to develop capacities within the government to address the issues of the marginalized from the rights and justice perspective. The creation of the NCW was the result of the pressure of a vibrant women’s movement which began in the 1970s that gave visibility to women’s issues and changed the state’s perspectives on women’s roles and participation. Given its history and intent, one would assume that the NCW should be expected to play a pro-active role in the struggles of women, and do so by influencing state policies and institutions. But to what extent is any of this being done? To what extent is the NCW accomplishing what it set out to do? Is it exercising its power to ‘call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women’? To ‘take up the cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and of other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities’? To what extent is it able to bring in changes in the culture and practices of bureaucratic structures of the state? In the case of Soni Sori, none of this was done. Despite being empowered to conduct independent fact-findings, to visit jails and remand homes, to submit their reports in court, to summon witnesses and examine them, and to hold public hearings, the NCW did not utilize any of these extensive powers to look into the serious complaints of Soni Sori who has been imprisoned and tortured. It made no attempt to contact her when she was hospitalized in Delhi for over a month, or help women’s groups reach her in jail. But this isn’t the first time that the NCW has failed to execute its sworn duty. It has repeatedly and frequently denied reports of sexual violence by security forces in several parts of the country, instead of seeking to investigate and end the impunity granted in such crimes. It refused to get involved in the Shopian case where Nilofer and Aasiya Jan were sexually assaulted and killed; it remained a mute spectator to the whisking away of Sodi Shambho, the crucial witness to Gompad massacre, by the Chhattisgarh police; it has yet to take action on a 15-month old petition for an investigation into the human rights violation of Irom Sharmila, who is being illegally detained by the Government. When the women of Koodankulam were brutally assaulted by the police for fighting for their rights, the NCW looked the other way. In Khairlanji, as a Dalit mother and daughter were stripped naked, dragged from their hut and hacked to death by the dominant castes of their village, the silence of the NCW resounded through the nations ears.Achievements of the NCW: a news clipping from the NCW website showing Chairperson Mamta Sharma at the launch of an album of devotional songs for Lord Ganesha The conduct of the Commission over the years has obscured the systemic injustices inflicted on women, trivialized the violations, and reduced the dignity of the institution itself. It isn’t simply on account of inaction that the NCW has failed us. Several controversial positions have reflected the Commission’s lack of understanding of women’s issues. Advising victims of sexual assault to dress “carefully” to avoid sexual violence and calling upon women to graciously accept the term ‘sexy’, members of the commission have repeatedly revealed their anti-women prejudices and patriarchal outlook. Probing the appointment of the Chairperson and members of the Commission puts some of these remarks in context. Rather than being chosen by virtue of their involvement in the women’s movement and their championship of women’s rights, the appointment of the Chairperson and members of the NCW has been largely influenced by political considerations. Over the years, several have been nominees of the government in power with no history of working on women’s issues. As a result, they have not only lacked the experience and necessary expertise for the job, but also the perspectives needed for processes of social change.
The political nature of the appointments has affected the autonomous functioning of the Commission and has compromised their ability to act against those in power. After a prolonged discussion on October 10th, 2012, once the protesting activists pointed out the provisions of the NCW Act which empowers the Commission to intervene and/or assist in any pending case, members of the Commission finally relented and agreed to reopen Soni Sori’s case. However, our experience of dealing with the NCW, together with the experience of countless women over the years, has compelled us to ask some fundamental questions of the Commissions members and its mode of functioning. At a time when we are faced with an unprecedented number of incidents of State repression and sexual violence against women, the need for an autonomous and effective statutory body that protects the interests of women is stronger than ever before. It is most distressing that at a time like this, the National Commission on Women has become inert, ineffective and incompetent. The WSS, together with other organizations and voices of resistance, refuses to let the NCW lightly explain away its inactivity and shrug its duties. We demand accountability and action. The protest on October 10, 2012 resulted in the formulation of the following demands: • Immediate resignation of the present Chairperson and other Members • Re-constitution of the Commission in an open and transparent manner •
Immediate enquiry into the custodial torture of Soni Sori • Initiation of investigations into conditions of women prisoners in Chhattisgarh • Performance audit of the NCW by an independent panelThe action was part of the JUSTICE FOR SONI SORI CAMPAIGN and was attended by members and activists of All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), All India Students Association (AISA), Delhi Forum, Delhi Solidarity Group, National Alliance of People’s Movement, People’s Democratic Front of India (PDFI), People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Right to Water Campaign, SAHELI, and Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS).

 

TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH

This if for all social workers intellectuals, NGOs, human rights organisations, women’s commission and citizens of India. An abused and helpless tribal woman, is asking you to answer why she is being brutally tortured and she wants to know–

That by giving me electric shocks, by stripping me naked, or by brutally assaulting me and inserting stones in my rectum- will the problem of Naxalism end ? Why so many atrocities on women? I want to know from all my countrypeople.

When I was being stripped, I felt someone should come and save me and it did not happen. In Mahabharata , Draupadi’s honour was saved when she called upon Krishna. Whom should I have called? I was given to them ( police ) by the court . But now ,I can’t ask to save my honour as I have nothing left. Yes, I want to know from all of you that why was I tortured?

Police officer, S. P Ankit Garg after stripping me said, “You are a whore, a bitch, who pleases naxal leaders by selling your body and they come to your house every day and night. We know everything.”, he said adding, “You claim to be a good teacher, but you sell yourself even in Delhi. What’s your status, anyway? You think the big stalwarts will support such an ordinary woman like you?”. Why will a police officer say this? Today history is witness that whenever there is war in a country or any other conflict, women have contributed a lot to the nation. Jhansi Lakshmi Bai fought with the Britishers, did she sell herself ? Indira Gandhi as the prime minister of India , she governed the country, did she sell herself ? Today all the women who are working in their respective areas, are they selling themselves ? All of us are bound with each other in unity and support, then why no one is coming to help me ? I would like to have an answer from you.

Who has made the world? Who gave birth to the powerful, intellectual fighters? If woman would not have been there, was it possible that India would have got freedom? I am a woman, so why did this happen to me, answer me.

My education has been mocked at. I got my education at the Gandhian school, Rukmani Kanya Ashram, Dimripal. I strongly believe in the power of my education. Whether it is a naxal problem or any other, I can face it. Education is my tool for survival and pen is my weapon of choice . Still they have put me in jail as a Naxal supporter. Mahatma Gandhi also had the same tools. If Mahatma Gandhi was alive today, then would he also have been put behind bars as a Naxal supporter? I want to know from all of you.

Why are only villagers and tribals being put in jails as Naxal supporters and cases been fabricated against them? Many other people can be Naxal supporters. Is it because they are illiterate, uneducated, simple people, living in huts in forests, and they have do not have money or is it because they have the capacity to tolerate torture much more? Why? I want to know from you people.

We Adivasis are being abused and tortured in many ways. We are accused of being Naxal supporters. Cases are being fabricated against us, even for 1 or 2 cases people are being kept in prison for 5 or 6 years. Neither there is judgement, nor bail or acquittal. After all, why? Is it because we Adivasi people do not have the calibre to fight the government or that government is not with Adivasi? Or because Adivasis are not sons/ daughters or relatives of big political leaders. Till when will the adivasis be exploited, till when? I am asking all citizens of India. Answer me.

In Jagdalpur and Dantewada prisons, 16 year olds boys and girls were bought and they are now 20-21 years old. But still their cases are not being heard. If their cases will not be heard in coming days or years, then what will be their future? Why so much atrocities upon the adivasis? All social workers, intellectuals, NGOs, citizens, please think.

The Naxals looted my father’s house and shot my father in the leg making him disabled. Why did they do that? They thought my father was a police informer. About 20-25 people from my father’s village Bade-Bidema have been put in jail as Naxal supporters. The Naxalites punished my father for their imprisonment. I want to know from you who is responsible for this? Government or police or my father? Today there is no support or help for my father. Instead, the police administration is trying to implicate his daughter as a criminal. If he was a politician, we would have got help but my father is a ordinary villager and an Adivasi, what will the government do for the Adivasis? Tell me.

Struggling with Torture- a Chhattisgarhi woman,
Soni Sori (Sodi)