Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Why India Needs To SCREAM!

Dear Advocate Devika Singh,

Way back in 1997, the honourable Indian Supreme Court set up Vishaka Guidelines which you have commented upon in your blog 

However, it is important to remind ourselves on this subject of What is sexual harassment?

The honourable Indian Supreme Court has clearly defined it as under:
Sexual harassment includes such unwelcome sexually determined behavior (whether directly or by implication) as:
a) physical contact and advances;
b) a demand or request for sexual favors;
c) sexually colored remarks;
d) showing pornography;
e) any other unwelcome physical verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
Courtesy: Wikipedia

In the present case, with regard to acquitting Mohammad Farooqui in the case filed against him for rape by a complainant residing in the United States, your powerful poem moved me to write this email to you. You have touched upon the many times and the multiple ways patriarchy which propagate power of male gender homo-sapiens  commonly known as man, in our society and empowered them to use power, physical, mental, psychological, over women. Thus, over ages, society wired in by this insidious crime against women, has got away with the worst because, the system is too deeply entrenched in the minds of men, and women alike, prompting them to bring up their daughters to be victims and sons to be forever ‘right’ even as a perpetrator.

I have read and gone through the entire proceedings and the content of the email. I came across this on FaceBook via my good friend Aditi Ray.

Frankly, the email is misleading sometimes, and has thus been used by the Bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao (please to note, there was no woman Judge on this panel, which is unacceptable when the case is about rape), to acquit the accused director of Piplee Live, Mohammad Farooqui for the 2nd time in January 2018, after he was acquitted in the High Court in 2015. The grounds cited are evident from her email – “She said I love you and kissed him- 

Explanation 2,. Sec 375 defined Rape in the following Link 

It clearly states:
“375. A man is said to commit "rape" who except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the five following descriptions:  
Firstly. Against her will.      
Secondly. Without her consent.   
Thirdly. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her in fear of death, or of hurt.   
Fourthly. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.         
Fifthly. With or without her consent, when she is under fourteen years of age.
Explanation. Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.  
Exception. Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under thirteen years of age, is not rape.”

Mohammad Farooqui is guilty on all grounds stated above. She did not give consent. In fact, she continued to say no, even as he pushed himself harder on her.

It is yet to establish, whether a thorough in depth inquiry had been made on the content of the email, for the complainant does appear to be under duress and even confused in her own head to have made statements that did not tally throughout. Yet, picking up statements like ‘I love you’ or ‘making drinks for him’, ‘they were friends’ ‘faked orgasm’ when she says earlier that this was the first time, and coming to conclusion that the complainant had given consent is drawing a conclusion too soon. Was the complainant questioned to find out her background, whether she was a victim of child sexual abuse in the past, or why she shot off an email that was confusing in content? And most importantly, why Mohammad Farooqui, guilty on two accounts – first, for cheating on his wife, in their house, right under her nose, and then secondly, committing rape when his wife was out of the house, is still acquitted, leaves much to be desired. The case seems to be hurried to conclusion, favouring the man, in an all male Bench, with no desire to open and scrutinize the case, once again, since it was brought forward after the High Court had passed its judgment in favour of Mohammad Farooqui. If the complainant appealed to the honourable Supreme Court, then was it not the duty of the SC to relook at the case from a fresh angle, without quickly dismissing it as ‘High Court’ has taken the most measured and well-thought out decision, and so the case is closed and The Supreme Court does not wish to open the case again?

If justice be done, then, the case must be reopened and scrutinized.

(a)  More inputs on the content of the email is required and deciphering its true meaning, which to me is unclear, since there is a lot written between the lines which has not been taken account of.
(b)  Mohammad Farooqui must be bought to task on clear evidence of a double deceit, one against his wife and the other against the complainant by forcing himself against her will even though she constantly said no to it; for un-natural oral sex with the victim and then penetration which makes the entire procedure tantamount to rape.
(c)  Consultation with Psychologists and persons working with Child Sexual Abuse victims for a more in-depth meaning of the email. There is a need for far more public discourse and involvement to garner strength over the case which is shoved under the carpet by the honourable Supreme Court saying they do not wish to re-look at the decision made by the Mumbai High Court, as they are quite sure that the conclusion arrived at is after profound deliberations on the said case at hand.
(d)  Bench must consist of woman as judge along with gender male judge to make the judgment acceptable.
(e)  The Supreme Court must answer why it is flaunting its own judgment and guidelines set up by Vishaka Guidelines and also Explanation 2, Sec 375

A time has come that India needs to SCREAM loudly about atrocities against women and the law-less-ness that prevails in our country over Rape which is rampant across the country and goes unreported at most times and dismissed if brought before Law of the country.
Precisely why, the complainant returned abroad to file an FIR, because, within India, the custodians of law and order, the Public Police Service are reluctant to do so.

Mohammad Farooqui may be free man, but is a perpetrator on the prowl. He is symbolic of the decadence of a society that thrives on lies and male power to dominate and subjugate woman they wish to objectify to meet the carnal desires of their oft deranged minds - their mother, sister, daughter, wife, and girlfriend.   

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Book Review: Nights of The Dark Moon by Tutu Dutta

Of Dark Nights and Folktales

Thirteen Gothic stories from eleven countries in Asia and Africa – quite a feat achieved over continents showing a single thread of interconnection, that being all the stories which fall in the folktales and legends category are dark stories some with humour built into them – a unique collection of YA fiction stories.

Tutu Datta’s book, Nights of the Dark Moon, looks at a common thread in all the stories, which have been collected over a decade by the author, that being in each story one encounters with something from the paranormal, world-of-spirit, which appears to be invincible, because of the very nature of these ‘beings’ when confronted by the homo sapiens. The stories draw from this ‘sameness’ that runs in folktales across all these nations, where, the ‘Nights of the dark moon’, meaning the Nights when the earth covers the moon and in so doing, darkens the earth even more. It is out of this scary darkness, that many a folktale has taken birth. Tutu Datta’s book holds some of the best of them.

You may ask, what is the greatness in dark humour and dark tales? As simple as this: dark takes to excite the mind with their chilling and haunted stories, laced with ancient curses, supernatural creatures and damsel-in-distress encounters which the human mind can explore, but not solve. Yet, each story in the collection talks of valour, courage, and revenge taken to silence the disturbed soul, which in most cases were done injustice to. Thus, the young adult, of any age, is able to duly impersonate in his or her mind the central hero/heroine in the story and play out the brave, strong, unafraid worrier that brings justice to the harmed or killed.

The stories at the beginning of the book are far more chilling and have a lot to do with killing the evil spirits, taking revenge, deceit, and damage, followed by others which slowly temper down, but are not totally free of their dark humour and content. The author has arranged all the thirteen - Oh My God! Isn’t 13 an evil number too – starting from the far east, where the sun rises first, Japan, to where the sun is the hottest, Africa.  Further, the stories get romantic and talk of longing, affection, and sorrow.

Although, I loved all the stories, my favourites were in the end, the ones from West Africa and Nigeria, because, they spoke of threes and how, cutting trees can cause untold harm to the woodcutter because, the good spirits who dwell in the trees are angered and the evil spirit also dwelling alongside, creates havoc, which a valiant hero with his sword cannot silence, and must then use his wit and intelligence to appease the spirit. Now isn’t that so much like stories we heard about the great warrior, in India, called Vikramaditya? Yes, now read that story in Tutu Datta’s book, King Vikram and Betaal the Vampire. What a smart, brave and wise king he was! The fine illustrations at the beginning of each story are also drawn by Tutu Dutta. They really are exquisite!

My fingers may be trembling as I write the names of the stories and the countries they have originated from, for who can forget the unexplained horror stories told so easily – The Haunted Bridge of Agi (Japan), The curse of Miryang (Korea), The Tiger of Flower Hill (China), The Shapeshifter of Co Lao (Vietnam), The Temple of Rara Jonggrang (Indonesia), Hang Nadam (Singapore), The Seven Princesses of Ulek Mayang ( Malaysia), The Strange Tale of Chief Naam (Malaysia), Princess of the Bamboo ( Malaysia & Sumatra), King Vikram and Betaal the Vampire (India), The Weeping Lady ( India). The Witchman (Nigeria), The Curse of the Iroko Tree (West Africa). What fascinated me, is the commonality in cultures and rituals across all the folktales from all the countries. And hence, while Tutu Datta’s book, Nights of the Dark Moon, may be a collection of dark folktales of valour, courage and perseverance, at a deeper level, young scholars can take up the study of these tales and draw up a table of similarity between these cultures in all these lands, which run a near identical thread of mores.

In the preface to the book, the author states, “dark tales get young readers interested – exhilarated – about reading. These stories allow young people to experience danger in a safe place, i.e, in the pages of a book.” She goes on to quote Neil Gaiman, “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell you that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

What a wonderful lesson for youth growing up in a world torn by strife, disparities, inequalities, and terror.

About the author: Tutu Datta is a writer of children’s and young adult books. She is the author of eight books. Her non-fiction work includes a paper on Asian Folklore presented at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, Singapore in 2013. She was also one of the judges for the Scholastic Asia Young Writers Award 2014. To know more on Tutu Datta and her work, visit her website by Clicking HERE

Nights of the Dark Moon is available as printed and ebook format, across nations including India on Click to BUY 

NOTE: Also published in The Shillong Times. CLICK HERE to read.