India Insight

Updated: Delhi police helpline: if your stalking case is not urgent, please press 1

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters Corp.)

Citizens First: those are the two words at the top of the Delhi Police department’s website. An alternative could be: “first come, first served.”

I called the stalker line after receiving some text messages and telephone calls that made me feel unsafe. The upshot: a dispatcher routed my call to three police stations, none of which have a record of the complaint. Furthermore, it will take several days to get back to me with the results of any investigation. This is happening when the police are under intense criticism for not doing enough to prevent rape, harassment and assault, not to mention reports of their views on women. This latest incident was not an inspiring episode.

Here’s what happened:

April 28-29: I receive anonymous calls from different numbers on my mobile phone. I receive two text messages from one of the numbers. Here is what they said:

Jab ho jaye mohabbat to Dil sambhalta hai nahi,

Wapas lotne ka rasta milta hai nahi,

Koi lakh bhulaye apne Dil se magar,

Dil mein rehne wala Dil se nikalta nahi. Send of I LOVE YOU,

(It is difficult to control the heart when you fall in love,

Difficult to find a way back,

As much as one may try to erase

One who lives in the heart, does not leave. Send of I LOVE YOU,)

And:

Aasu Nikale Teri to Aankhe Meri ho,

Dil Dharke Teri to Dharkan Meri Ho,

Khuda Kare ki Hum Dono ka Rishta Itani Ghahari Ho,

Ki Mere Bachche ki Ma Bane Aap

to Mehanat Meri Ho

(If the tears are yours, may the eyes be mine,

if your heart beats, may the beat be mine,

May god make our relation so deep,

that you be the mother of my child

due to my hard work (on you))

I call the Delhi police department’s women’s anti-stalking helpline. A constable takes my name, number and address. She says she will forward it to the local police station. I get no call back.

Just another rape in India. Are we becoming numb?

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

A grim parlour game sometimes comes to mind when I read the latest story about someone raping a woman or a child in India. Is this the one that’s going to change everything? Is this the one that’s going to keep me up for days contributing to the news media’s coverage? Or is this just another rape?

There is no such thing as “just another rape” for a victim. Beyond the sexual violation, there is the torture. The physiotherapy student who was raped on a bus in New Delhi last December died as the result of injuries sustained by being penetrated with an iron rod. Everybody knows this, and everybody got angry, but anger runs out.

Delhi rape case reignites police reform debate

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

I live in India’s rape capital where rape cases are as common as power cuts used to be a few years ago. Even reports of police misbehaviour have become routine.

While all rape cases do not get media attention, the recent rape of a five-year-old girl is in the limelight, especially because of the way the police handled the case.

Military personnel who rape in India’s conflict zones should be prosecuted: committee

The Justice Verma Committee, set up to review India’s legislation following the brutal gang rape of a student in Delhi last month, released its recommendations on how to make the country safer for women last week.

Among the issues which the panel addressed was a “neglected area” concerning sexual violence against women in areas of conflict.

The committee recommends stripping security forces of special immunity that they enjoy in conflict areas in cases of sexual assault on women, and bringing them under the purview of ordinary criminal law.

Short skirts, bad stars and chow mein: why India’s women get raped

If you thought the Delhi gang rape would cause a serious debate on women’s rights in India, you’d be half right. Let’s look at the other half: last December’s brutal incident seems to have put a spell on India’s politicians, holy men and otherwise educated people.

From suggesting that the rape victim should have called her rapists “brother” to blaming her stars, plenty of reasons cited for the crime lay the blame on the women whom men brutalise, or portray women in ways that reveal our skewed attitude toward women and their place in our society. When given an opportunity to figure out ways to improve the  education and behaviour of men, and thus try to reduce the  number of rapes that occur in India, many people revert to the  more traditional method: limit the rights of women.

This is a partial list compiled by me and Robert MacMillan. Please suggest more. We’ll keep updating this as long as we have to…

Delhi rape case: Verma committee report dredges up old stereotypes

Like many journalists who follow Indian affairs, I have been digging through the 657 pages of the Verma committee report on rape in India and attitudes toward women in that country. You can read about its main conclusion in our wire story, namely:

India needs to implement existing laws, not introduce tougher punishment such as the death penalty, to prevent rape, a government panel set up to review legislation said on Wednesday, following a brutal gang rape that shook the nation. Panel head, justice J.S. Verma, rejected outright the idea of the death penalty for rape cases, a demand from some protesters and politicians in the days after the 23-year-old physiotherapy student was attacked on a moving bus.

There’s lots more to examine in the report, which was commissioned after the gang rape and death of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi aboard a moving bus. I’ll try to highlight on this blog in coming days. The committee cited plenty of case law in its report, and it came across one opinion that it said “seems to have stereotyped Indian and Western women in a somewhat unorthodox way.” That’s putting it kindly. Here is an excerpt that highlights a decidedly retrograde view toward women — particularly in the West. It’s from a 1983 Supreme Court case,  Bharvada Gohinbhai Hirjibhai v. State of Gujarat, in which a civil servant appealed his conviction of the rape of a 10-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl.

from Photographers' Blog:

Voices of women in India’s “rape capital”

New Delhi, India

By Mansi Thapliyal

My city is known as the so-called “rape capital of the country”. They say it’s unsafe, it’s dangerous, it’s full of wolves looking to hunt you down. A lot of it may be true. As a single woman working, living and breathing in New Delhi, I have had my fair share of stories. But the labels and opinions associated with the city were accepted on one level – no one questioned them, no one asked why – until a brutal tragedy one cold December night which shook the world and forced everyone (the authorities, the public, the lawmakers) to ask themselves uncomfortable questions and focus the on safety of women. It is still an ongoing, raging debate, thank heavens.

Meanwhile, I decided to focus on what Delhi’s women face and what they think about it. How do they go on with their lives, their work, their families? Just trying to understand the magnitude of how unsafe India’s capital is became one of the most challenging and emotionally exhausting assignments of my career.

SLIDESHOW: INDIA'S WOMEN DEFEND THEMSELVES

From call center executives to advertising professionals to tea stall workers, everyone has their stories and how they cope with it. Take the example of Chandani, 22, one of the few female cab drivers in the city. As she drove me around the city, a policeman stopped us at a barricade near India Gate. When he saw that a woman was driving the cab, he scraped his jaw off the floor. “You also drive a cab?” he said with an expression that suggested that he had spotted the Abominable Snowman. “I am doing a very unconventional job for women. Given that I do night shifts, I carry pepper spray and I’m trained in self-defense. Initially I faced a lot of problems but driving cabs at night has helped me overcome my fears,” Chandani said.

In southern Delhi, a slum lives in fear and uncertainty

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)

Raju Saini appears fidgety and nervous as he talks about his cousin. He speaks matter-of-factly, but there is a hint of caution in his voice, as if he is wary of what we might think about him and the place where he lives. Fifteen minutes into the conversation, he says what has been on his mind.

“We know what we are going through. Now even if people don’t say it out openly, they know we are from Ravidas camp, and eye us with suspicion whenever we go to work. This incident has given us a bad name,” said the 40-year-old man. Saini is tall and lanky with salt-and-pepper hair and a thin moustache, and was wearing grey thermals on the day we met in the slum.

Know your rights: staying safe in India’s rape capital

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)

Despite increased media scrutiny of violence against women after the Dec. 16 gang rape case, such incidents continue to be reported in and around New Delhi — now holder of the infamous title, “India’s rape capital.”

It’s unfair to expect women to no longer step outside their homes, but it’s best to be prepared. Carry pepper spray. Take a self-defence course. Learn kickboxing or Krav Maga. Most importantly, be aware of your legal rights.

Delhi gang rape: Fast-track courts, juvenile laws don’t guarantee justice

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)
During the anti-rape protests across India in December, two slogans stood out among all the placards and banners — “Hang the rapists” and “We want justice”.

It was a case that stirred national debate and forced the state government in New Delhi to set up five fast-track courts to try sexual offences against women.
It’s nothing new. The Indian government set up 1,734 fast-track courts in the country a decade ago. The purpose was to quickly clear pending cases. But some legal experts say that the courts are not always a good thing, and many of these courts disbanded after the government stopped funding them.

“Fast-track courts were set up in Rajasthan to try some rape cases, but were forced to shut down due to ‘high costs’,” Supreme Court lawyer Pinky Anand told Reuters in an email.

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