Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Guest post by Samar Esapzai, a visual artist and PhD student in International Rural Development and Gender Studies.

In an enlightening class I took last semester, my professor said something that stuck with me long after the class/semester ended, for it held so much raw truth. She said:

“The woman’s body is the battleground upon which cultural and religious wars are fought.”

Being a woman in any given society, whether it may be within South/Central Asia or in the West, there are often triggers of distress and tension, and the constant battle with one’s image and appearance that plays over and over again in a woman’s head like a broken record. We live in a world where, right from the time we are born up until we die, we are told that our body defines us; that our sexuality should be proscribed – protected; and that we should do everything in our power to guard our bodies – our honour – from the enemy: men. And, if we don’t, then the blame falls solely upon us.

While there are some who manage to break free from this never-ending cycle of staring, leering, gawking, examining, judging, etc., most women will, however, be forever stuck in this rut for the majority of their adult lives. The worst part is that some women have even accepted it – accepted that they, their bodies, are the reason behind every incident of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and all other forms of violence that have been, and will be, inflicted upon them. It has almost become like an unspoken sort of awareness, where a woman suddenly realizes how dangerous her body is to her safety. And if she slips – even once – she will have no choice but to suffer the dire consequences that accompany it.

Furthermore, when we look back at history, especially in the context of war and conflict, women’s bodies have often been treated as territories to be conquered, claimed and marked by the contender. This is why violence, especially sexual violence, against women was and still is quite common during communal/ethnic conflicts. Women would not only be raped but their bodies would be marked in such a way so as to remind the opposing enemy that their women – who are supposed to be “pure” and a representative of the community’s/nation’s “honour” – are stained.

Such markings would include stripping a woman naked and serenading her in shame in public; physical mutilation and disfigurement, i.e. cutting off a woman’s private parts, or other parts of her body, such as her nose, ears, hair, etc.; tattooing and branding a woman on her private parts, i.e. her breasts and/or genitals, with hate slogans against the enemy; and other forms of debasements to emphasize conquest and suppression.

Thus, the violation of women’s bodies equates the same political territories upon which the men from the rioting communities would inscribe their markings on. It’s like an uncanny sort of relinquishment – a victory, where it becomes blatant that in order to defeat a nation, you must violate their women. Such atrocious violations against women hence create a sense of helplessness in communities where a woman’s honour is more important than her life. And in order to revive this honour, members of the community (usually male) have no choice but to kill off every single female who was either raped or physically/sexually violated in any way. For it is known that a woman’s dishonour is the dishonour of the ethnic race, the community, and the nation as a whole.

Consequently, the targeting of women’s bodies is both an effect and a cause of the acceptability of sexual violence against women. It serves to subjugate women further, and creates an environment where violence becomes habitual and is committed with impunity. And while there is no denying that the blame often falls upon the woman for failing to guard her body from being violated, even if it is against her own volition, an equal burden falls upon the shoulders of men who deeply value their women’s honour.

I personally believe that as long as such societies conventionalize the woman as a symbol of honour and continue to instrumentalize her in such an ignominious way, gender-based violence in these societies will persist, making any iota of progress seem bleak.

Even so, not all societies associate women with honour, despite the fact that rape and other forms of violence against women still occurs. There are societies, particularly within the South and Central Asian region, where a woman’s dignity equates her entire existence as well as the existence of those around her. And though it is clear that men, too, are targets and victims of violence, it is the gendered nature of violence that marks women’s experiences as wholly unique.

Guest post by an Anonymous Delhi guy who feels there is a deeper meaning to the act on Dec 16th. He thinks the humans have become dangerous animals & still need to evolve.

A lot has been said about the Dec 16th Delhi Rape Case.

Many have wondered how could one human rape another human. Many feel rape should invoke harsher punishments to be wiped off our psyche. Many have argued men should be better raised for this menace to be eradicated.

I’ve been pre-occupied with something completely different about this case. I am not so sure if it has been explored by all those who “talk” only when such incidents come forth to our notice.

I am talking about the animal violence that followed the otherwise ghastly act.

What is it about our genetics that makes us go over the top? Not just in the case of rape, take road rage for instance. When someone cuts us off while driving, not only do we get medieval by cutting them off at the risk of hurting others, we sometimes force them to stop their vehicle, beat them up, and then even as their near dead motionless body lies there, we kick it or shoot at it one last time just to satiate the animal inside us. That is eerily similar to what happened at around 9:30 pm on Dec 16th – not only did several men rape a girl, they then went on to physically damage her insides and then threw her off the bus. If there are many amongst us who would go overboard in the case of road rage, we must come to this disturbing conclusion that there are many amongst us who would have done the exact same thing as those evil men in the case of sexual rage.

I am not sure I have an answer to why it happened. But I am not sure if it can be cured by harsher punishments – heck if that were the case we’d have zero murders. I don’t even think better upbringing would wipe this off our psyches – heck if that were the case, we’d all be respecting our elders and be kind to children.

I think in the final analysis, one thing is very clear. Humans have not evolved as much as we’d like to think we have. The animal inside us is very much alive. And maybe it’s gotten even more dangerous. We’re now hunting amongst our kind.

And as long as that happens, none of us are safe from each other. Not women, not children, not men either. No one

According to Wikipedia ‘Acid attack’ or vitriolage is defined as the act of throwing acid onto the body of a person “with the intention of injuring or disfiguring [them] out of jealousy or revenge”. Perpetrators of these attacks throw acid at their victims, usually at their faces, burning them, and damaging skin tissue, often exposing and sometimes dissolving the bones. The long-term consequences of these attacks include blindness and permanent scarring of the face and body.

As a part of Justice For Women, I have come across some acid attack cases and have been managing groups and pages such for these victims: Archana Kumari, Inderjit Kaur, Sonali Mukherjee and recently a 15-year old girl called Tuba Tabassum.

With every new case, the wounds get deeper, the crime gets graver and the heart gets heavier. How could one human being put another through such a horrendous act of terror? It turns the victim into the living dead. Acid attack doesn’t just deforms one’s face and body, it takes away their whole personality, their identity and more than that, their life; It causes extreme physical and mental suffering to victims and permanently mar their psyche. I personally could not think of an act more inhumane than this one.

According to a report by the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School, the Committee on International Human Rights of the New York City Bar Association, the Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic, and the Virtue Foundation, called COMBATING ACID VIOLENCE IN BANGLADESH, INDIA, AND CAMBODIA, “acid violence is prevalent in these countries because of three related factors: gender inequality and discrimination, the easy availability of acid, and impunity for acid attack perpetrators.”

Since I wasn’t completely aware of acid attack know-how, I did research on the topic by reading the above mentioned report, and Tehelka:

What are the most common types of acids used in acid attacks?

Most commonly available acids used to attack victims are hydrochloric, sulfuric, or nitric acid, which quickly burns through flesh and bone.

What are the reasons behind these acid attacks?

They result from domestic or land disputes, dowry demands or revenge. In many cases they are a form of gender based violence, perhaps because a young girl or woman spurned sexual advances or rejected a marriage proposal.

What are the after-effects/consequences of the acid attack on victims?

Acid attacks cause immediate damage, disfigurement, pain, and long lasting medical complications for victims. Acid can melt away a victim’s skin and flesh, going as far as dissolving bones. The burned skin dies, turning black and leathery, and severe scarring results.

After the attacks, victims are at risk of breathing failure due to the inhalation of acid vapors which cause either a poisonous reaction or swelling in the lungs. In the weeks or even months after the attack, acid burn victims may suffer from infections, which can also cause death if not treated properly.

How long does it take for the acid to start affecting the skin?

It takes five seconds of contact to cause superficial burns and 30 seconds to result in full-thickness burns.

What kind of First Aid must be provided to an acid attack victim?
  1. As quickly as possible, flush contaminated area with lukewarm, gently flowing water for at least 20-30 minutes, by the clock. If irritation persists, repeat flushing.
  2. While flushing the eyes use lukewarm water and keep the eyelids open at all times to allow uninterrupted flushing to rinse every last residue of acid.
  3. Neutral saline solution may be used as soon as it is available without interrupting the flushing.
  4. Call for an ambulance right away and keep flushing until one arrives.
  5. Under running water, remove clothing, shoes, jewelry watch any other contaminated item touching the skin.
  6. Keep contaminated clothing, shoes and all other items in a plastic bag for evidence.

Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do not take off any clothing that is stuck to the burn.
  • Do not interrupt flushing at any time.
  • Do not soak the burn in water.
  • Do not use ice as this will damage the skin.
  • Do not use a fluffy cloth, like a towel or blanket.
  • Do not break or pop any blisters.
  • Do not use butter, grease, oils or ointments if it is a severe burn..
  • Make sure the person is breathing, and administer CPR if necessary
  • Give him/her a pain reliever medicine.
  • Cool the burn with running water or a cold damp cloth.

For more details, please refer to Raahnuma, a site dedicated to providing information, support and resources to victims of abuse of any kind and their families.

Why do acid attack victim require to undergo multiple reconstruction surgeries?

Victims must endure painful surgical procedures just to prevent further harm and suffering.

If not washed off immediately, acid continues to burn the skin, and may eventually cause skeletal damage and organ failure. If the dead skin is not removed from an acid violence victims’ body within four or five days, the new skin may grow to cause further facial deformities. If there is burned skin tissue around the neck and armpit areas, it must be removed to facilitate movement.

After a while, some skin may grow back and grow over eyelids or nostrils of victims, or pull on existing skin resulting in the formation of lumps.

To avoid severe pain and further disabilities, acid burn victims need staged surgeries and constant physical therapy to ensure that scarred tissue remains elastic and does not harm other parts of the body.

Why are acid attacks so common in our country?

The biggest reason for the high frequency rate of acid attacks in India is that concentrated acid is cheap and easily available in the market, for as low as Rs. 16-25 per liter.

Furthermore there are no legal restrictions imposed on buying or selling acid. Anyone can legally purchase acid over the counter in pharmacies, automobile repair shops, goldsmith shops, and open-air markets. Acid is also heavily used in many households as a cleaning agent.

Why must we treat acid attacks as a grave criminal act and what should be the punishment like?

Acid attack perpetrators do not usually intend to kill their victims, but to cause long-lasting physical damage and emotional trauma.

Even if the perpetrator does not intend to cause death, the injuries sustained by the victim may still result in death.

Is there an international legislation for acid attacks?

Acid violence constitutes gender-based violence, a form of discrimination under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

What must be the State’s involvement in curbing the increasing number of acid attacks?
  1. States committed to decreasing the rate of acid attacks should enact laws regulating the handling of acid such as
    • Requiring the storage and sale of acid in labeled containers indicating the nature of the content, cautioning users about its dangerousness, and warning them of the penalties associated with misuse of acid.
    • Banning the use of concentrated forms of acid for household purposes where less potentially harmful alternatives are available.
  2. States must enact targeted legislation and policies to address acid violence and also ensure effective implementation of those laws and policies by conducting appropriate investigations, protecting victims from threats that could undermine these investigations and providing just punishment to the perpetrators of acid attacks.
Where does India stand as far as formulating a legislation dedicated solely to acid attack is concerned?

The National Commission for Women (NCW) came up with a draft of the Prevention of Offences (by Acids) Act, 2008.

The draft Bill proposed by the NCW suggested that a national acid attack victims’ assistance board be set up to recommend to the government strategies for regulating and controlling the production, hoarding, import, sale and distribution of acids.

The Cabinet has passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012, with special provisions for acid victims. For the first time, acid attacks have been included under a standalone provision in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

It has been proposed that two sections — 326A (hurt by acid attack) and 326B (attempt to throw or administer acid) — be added to the IPC. This is a non-bailable offence. The proposed law states that the attacker could get a jail term of 10 years to life for causing hurt by acid. He or she could be sent to jail for up to seven years for attempting to do so.

The law states that there should be an additional clause in the law making where the State should take up the responsibility of compensating the victim if the accused fails to do so. Some states such as Karnataka have adopted a mechanism to pay the victim from State funds. Recently, the Delhi Government too announced that it would pay a compensation of up to Rs. 3 lakh to a victim in case there is disfigurement of the face.

Special mention-ASTI:

Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI) is the only organisation in the world working at the international level to end acid and burns violence. It also works with UN agencies, NGOs and strategic partners from across the world to increase awareness of acid violence and develop effective responses at the national and international level. In India, the partner is called Acid Survivors Forum India.

Needless to say, there is an urgent need for India to pass a separate law to curb this vicious act of hatred towards women called acid attack. The actual number of such cases may exceed our imagination since there is no national statistics available to record cases of acid attack. Also, most of these cases go unreported due to various reasons such as economic background of the family, threats to victims, insensitive treatment by police and medical staff of the victims etc.

We need to open our eyes to this deadly threat of acid attack and must ask the government to regulate distribution of commonly available acid as well as regulate laws specifically targeting the heinous act of acid attack.

For this purpose, we have formed a group on Facebook called Students Against Acid Attack to collect like-minded, strong-headed youth on a shared platform, that realizes the urgency of the situation and stands united to support this cause. Kindly join, share and be a part of the student collective to fight for the human rights of these acid attack victims and ensure that justice is duly served.

Because together this generation can and shall make this country proud!

 Story as told to Zena Costa (@zenacostawrites ) by Jemmy Gabra ( @GemmyGabra on twitter)


The Story of fourteen year old Sarrah begins 30 Sept., 2012 after she finished the school day, her family was waiting for her to return from school but she didn’t.  After a big search in the village (Dabaa-matroh-North west of Egypt ), they didn’t find her. After a while some salafis came to them telling that their child was married to one of them and became, so you don’t have to search her nor asking for even seeing her and they menace them hardly if they call the police…the family who had nothing to do to return their child went to call for the return of their child, as. the law of marriage in Egypt is 18 year for girls”, so after many attempts the minister of interior said to them that he had nothing to do in this case and the whole of thing is in the hand of the chief of Salafis Yasser el borhamy- Yasser el borhamy is one of the greatest chief of salafis in Egypt if he isn’t the greatest he said many times that any girl can be married if she would have only 9 yo and even less by Quran. 

Birth certificate of Sarrah 

So the family provided the government and media the birth certificate of Sarrah that prove she had 14 yo (born on August 1 1998), after hard sessions finally the case gone to some media, and in a talk show the representative of salafis in this case said that Sarah wont return back and girls can be married if they were 9 yo, the human rights organisation in Germany denounces the kidnapped and rape of Sarah in their report, also many reports them in Egypt, So After more than month west Alexandria AG orders in November 3 the arrest of sarrah’s kidnapper Mahmoud Seleem 28 a Salafi in Matrouh  but the government doesn’t proceed till this date, Sarrah is now kidnapped for more than 40 days and could be rapped several times in a great silent of Egyptian society, politician and media…

German human Rights organisation denounce the kidnap and rape of sarrah :

I wrote this post last year for my personal blog. Please feel free to suggest more preventive measures in the comments section:
The topic of sex is quite sensitive for me so I’ll try to cover it as best as can.
Lately, my timeline has become a battleground of the cities. Delhi versus other metros to be precise.
People have been bashing Delhi for being the rape capital of the country and having the highest rate of crime against women and children.
What concerns me the most is that regardless of a city number of registered rape cases, women all over the world suffer from the hate-crime that is forced sex. Be it sexually liberated countries of the West or sexually oppressed countries of the East, women are prone to sexual slavery of forms.
Coming back to India, is there a foolproof way to curb this problem? I don’t think so. In a hugely diverse country like ours how can a uniform solution of Any problem be the savior?
Some methods that come to my mind are:
  • Buying sex toys in India is illegal. I wonder why the Government would have a problem with experimentation in sex but not with sexually explicit songs and videos like Sheila ki Jawani and Tinku Jiya. I mean seriously, you allow a kid to enter theaters and be witness to such obscenity and then expect them to grow up to respect women and value sex? This treatment of women as sexual objects in the mainstream media causes more harm than we care to take account of. Opening up of sex stores near the NCR would be an interesting social experiment. I don’t suggest selling hardcore stuff for BDSM though. Just some blow up dolls et al. India suffers from sexual desperation. Wouldn’t it help if we take the desperation out a little bit?
  • Sex education shouldn’t be imparted at an early age as it can corrupt young minds. Let kids believe in Santas and storks for a little longer. Kids today are more aware of this topic than we realize. It would be silly to wait for long but we can at least wait till they’re pre-pubertal, i.e. 10-11 years of age? This also means that the Censor Board should be more stringent in filtering cinematic content and theaters should be more judgmental at the box office. Every rule or law requires proper execution to be a success.
  • Respect towards women shall be taught as part of children’s formal and informal socialization. Fathers shouldn’t be portrayed as the head of the family. Instead parents should have equal jurisdiction in family matters. Preferential treatment towards any child must be discouraged. This can be followed in schools through moral education classes where stories of successful men and women shall be shared among other things.
  • Lastly, I dreamt about it ever since I was a kid. Why not open an all-girl orphanage? Parents with unwanted girls can drop off their daughters to these orphanages instead of aborting them or marrying them off as kids. Encourage mothers to give birth to girl child  instead of aborting them and enlisting them in such orphanages.
Of course none of these methods have a 100% chance at success. They may all bomb for all I know. But instead of being sitting ducks and cursing each other and the system for all the crimes, wouldn’t it be better if we took a step towards the betterment of society.
I am not an expert at this topic so please feel free to suggest more methods for prevention of such crimes and correct me in places I am wrong. Lastly, learn to respect women for if We revolt, we literally are the Mother of this civilization.