Why Indian Women Pray for Long Lives for their Husbands Even as Millions are Killed for Dowry

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Last week millions of Hindu women proudly celebrated a festival whose fundamental tenet is misogynistic. This is the festival of Karva Chauth. Women deprive themselves of food and water all day, and after sunset break their fast after they’ve viewed the moon through a kitchen sieve. They’ve been told that if they do this, the gods will ensure long lives for their husbands. In a country where every year, more than a 100,000 married women are murdered for dowry — burnt, hung, stabbed, poisoned, drowned, or driven to suicide — by their husbands and in-laws, and not a day goes by without media reports of such deaths, this womanly fixation on ensuring a long life for the husband seems sort of bizarre. But there is a cultural explanation for Indian women’s fixation on their husbands’ long lives….

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE http://www.huffingtonpost.in/rita-banerji-/karva-chauth-a-womanly-ce_b_8429386.html

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As a feminist activist in India here’s what I went through to file an FIR with the police!

An FIR (First information report) has to be filed with the police to initiate investigation of any crime in India.  The police often refuse to file an FIR.  And even though as a feminist activist I’m aware of the law and my rights it took me more than 2 weeks to file an FIR case with my local police station for my mother in a case involving threats, extortion and cheating.  Not only that, the FIR report in the police register is not the complaint we submitted.  But we were told either had to accept it as it is, or we don’t any FIR report.

A man in our building, Mr.D, who calls himself the ‘President’ of a flat owners association, that does not not exist on paper, or have any legal or written documents, has been trying to force my mother to put the building maintenance money for her flat into a bank account.  For many years she had been putting money into an account under the name “Palm Place Syndicate”, assuming that even if Mr. D. does not show us any registration or bye-laws, or anything in writing/print showing such an association actually exists, it must exist.  There must be documents, otherwise how can the bank allow for an account to exist under the name “Palm Place Syndicate.”  And then in October 2014, we discovered that account was in the banks own legal department because it had no documents! No registration, bye-laws, identity — nothing!  And the way we found out was that Mr. D. invited my mother to be a signatory to the account without telling her that the account was in legal trouble and faced RBI closure.  We then also found out  the account was not even set up as a building society account, but Mr.D’s business partnership account. One of his business partners was a man who had sold his flat and didn’t even live in our building. The third business “partner” was a man who had been dead for 10 years!

Why should we be putting money into someone’s business partnership account? So we stopped putting money into that account. In the meantime, in November 2014, Mr. D. pulled out 90% of the funds in the account and then for the next 4 months went all quiet.  We heard he was trying to open a similar business partnership account in other banks.  I imagine without documents it would be hard.  But not impossible. For by end of March 2015, he managed to open a new account — another business partnership account, with undisclosed “business partners.”  Then he demanded we put our maintenance money in there directly with a penalty for late payment based on a building bye-law which does not exist on paper, and he refuses to provide us a copy.  When we refused to put money into this account (we’d been voluntarily doing so in the last one unaware of his set-up!) Mr.D started threatening us.  He said he’d turn off our water, electricity and put more penalty on us.  Interestingly, we had managed to get printout of the last bank account, and we don’t see very many monthly maintenance payments by Mr. D. himself! But he thinks he’s not required to provide audits and accounts either!

When we went to the police to file an FIR for fraud, criminal intimidation and extortion against Mr.D, they refused to register the complaint and wrote a general police diary. They also refused to give us the carbon copy of the report we filed. Then we went to the next higher up, the DC – deputy commissioner of police who ordered an FIR.  However, again, the sub-inspector, (the same one who did the General Police Diary the last time) they took our carbon copy to stamp but refused to stamp and give it back. He gave a little slip saying – come and get the FIR report tomorrow. Next day he wasn’t there and they couldn’t find it. We kicked up a fuss and finally I saw the FIR report in the police register. The sub inspector who wrote it had filed a wrong story, saying there was attempt to extort money through threats of grievous injury.  Mr.D had 4 years ago attempted to physically push my mother over another matter, and the police had refuse to file an assault FIR then too.  However in the current case we cannot yet complain of or prove physical threats.

So we objected but the police refused to change the FIR report. Then they said that we don’t get a copy of the FIR report because it’s an internal thing.  They tried to tell us it does not matter, judge will only see your written complaint! Again we had to go back to the Deputy commissioner of Police.  It still wasn’t easy.  They tried to give us a copy of our written formal complaint with the police stamp, signature and penal code it was submitted under, blanked out.  It looked like it had been covered with a blank paper on the margin and photocopied.  We did get — but after another bout of fighting. We refused to sign the FIR report with the wrong story.  They said, this is the only one you get. Like it or leave it!  We finally decided to sign at the back — stating simply received a copy of the FIR without signing the bottom of the form accepting the report as true.

We’ve been told this happens! And that it’s OK. The police file different stories from the one’s the complainants file! And that eventually the court will look at what you’ve written.  Will it? I don’t know. And why should there be a wrong story officially filed in the police register?

So I ask other Indian women activists, lawyers, and anyone else reading this – please advise me on what to do. It’s been 6 months of hell and I’ve knocked on dozens of doors – lawyers, NGOs, government offices, consumer affairs, RBI.

Also I’d appreciate any advice on what can I do about Mr.D?

Who Silenced Anjali Bhushan , Indian Co-Producer of #IndiasDaughter Film, and Why?

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Anjali Bhushan was the Indian Co-Producer of the new “India’s Daughter” documentary on the Delhi gang rape, and a big mystery because even though her name was repeatedly mentioned in media articles, introducing this film to India as a joint Indian-British venture, Bhushan wasn’t seen or even heard from. It’s now clear that Bhushan’s involvement was necessary for the team to get access to Tihar’s high security prison, since Leslee Udwin, the director, as a foreigner may not have got access. Interestingly, though some vaguely speculated that Bhushan was in hiding, the Indian and western media have been oddly silent on the question of the “missing producer.” Stranger still, from her statement now, she had contacted them!

Then The Hindustan Times published the piece below, written by Bhusan in the first person, explaining her role in this film and what had really happened. Her assertions are scandalous and answer questions that have been raised about official procedures and the aim of the director. What is more odd is how HT was forced to remove this content. The same had happened a few weeks ago with one newspaper reporting on Pachauri’s sexual harassment case and then being forced to remove it. Of course soon after as other women came forward, all the media houses were compelled to report it. What’s most odd, is while the media loudly protests the ban on “India’s Daughter” as muzzling of free-speech, it deliberately mutes a journalist whose statement and experience shows the dark underbelly of the making of this film, and indeed exposes issues with ethics and exploitative abuse within the journalistic community, with an eye to fame and capital gain.

BELOW IS BHUSHAN’S STATEMENT IN THE HINDSUTAN TIMES WHICH WAS TAKEN DOWN. IT SEEMS SITES IN INDIA THAT HAVE COPIED THIS STORY ARE BEING BLOCKED OUTSIDE. WHY THAT IS, IS NOT CLEAR. SO IF YOU ARE OUTSIDE INDIA, PLEASE COPY AND SHARE THIS STATEMENT BELOW:

By Anjali Bhushan in The Hindustan Times

Make no mistake. Rape is a heinous crime. When public anger over the Nirbhaya incident boiled over, the question which confronted our society was how a human being could be driven to commit acts of such depravity. Although, it is said that the moral compass of all criminals is skewed the brutality of this incident made it necessary from a social viewpoint to examine the question of where such behaviour stems from.

The documentary “India’s Daughter” was therefore conceived to serve a social cause which was unfortunately overshadowed by the self-promoting agenda of my collaborator, Ms. Leslee Udwin. I had fallen out with her by the time that the principle photography of the film was completed and was conveniently excluded from the final edits.

Subsequently, her attempt to exploit the subject matter of the documentary in a self-advancing attempt to sensationalize the content has not only brought disrepute to my profession and the country but also resulted in hurting the sentiments of the victims of rape who would invariably be exposed to the film. Granted editorial and journalistic privilege, there is also a particular sensibility that should be a guiding factor as an ethical standard.

This is the same sensibility because of which the international media decides against telecasting the brutal immolation of a Jordanian pilot by terrorists. The social message which is the very essence of the film I wanted to make is now lost in the unfortunate controversy which has followed. When one edits several hours of footage, it is this sensibility, suitably deployed, which comes into play. It was this ‘sensibility’ which I was not able to exercise having been prevented by Ms. Leslee Udwin from participating in the post-assembly review of the film. And it was the lack of exercise of this ‘sensibility’ on her part, (having denied herself of my input as an Indian woman), in a cynical attempt to capture eyeballs and headlines which has led to the unfortunate controversy which will continue to cast a shadow on her career as a film maker.

The story does not end here. Regardless of her lack of sensibilities and judgment, Ms. Udwin knowingly and cynically breached the conditions and undertakings under which the permissions were granted. It was clear right at the outset that the permission to shoot the documentary was conditional upon the viewing of the unedited footage and the final cut by the authorities. Having completed the shooting, Ms. Udwin arrogantly refused to comply. On being shown snippets of the film, the authorities at Tihar Prisons had categorically stated that the comments of the convict were objectionable. The authorities further asked for the full i.e. unedited film to be able to review the same in the proper context. It was reiterated that the film should not be released till it is approved by the prison authorities and the Ministry.

When Ms. Udwin categorically refuted this demand by Tihar Prisons, I was horrified especially since I had repeatedly pleaded with her to comply with all conditions and formalities. Ultimately, in September 2014, I received a letter from Ms. Udwin’s lawyers terminating our agreements. One of the grounds of termination was that my warnings had in fact led to the DG (Prisons) sending a legal notice to her company on the grounds of breach of permissions granted by the jail authorities!

Subsequently, when I accidently stumbled upon the fact that plans to release the documentary were afoot, I was both angry and surprised, since I had been informed that the BBC will not air the documentary until the Supreme Court hearings were over. I immediately proceeded to warn the media houses planning to telecast the film, both about the fact that permission to do so had not been received and also the fact that the matter was still sub judice.

That despite my warnings the documentary, which includes an abominable portrayal of the issue, was still aired is a sad reflection of the triumph of the personal ambition of a producer who valued publicity and international recognition over the social agenda of the entire production.

(This is the full statement of co-producer of controversial documentary “India’s Daughter”. Views expressed are personal)

This is the link to the Hindustan Times article in the Google cache which the newspaper it appears was compelled to remove.
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:FeW8L6A-1R4J:www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/anjali-bhushan-co-producer-of-indias-daughter-speaks-out-full-statement/article1-1323775.aspx+&cd=12&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=in

   

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http://www.kractivist.org/anjali-bhushan-indian-co-producer-of-indiasdaughter-speaks-out/

Does India Understand these Dangers of #GMO Food?

Where GMO food is a major concern for the public and environmentalists in other countries, in India, the environment minister seems to be a comfortable supporter of the government’s eagerness to open the floodgates to GMO vending corporations!

Geneticist Suman Sahai, founder of Gene Campaign in India, in her recent interview warns the nation of the dangers of GMO and lists the following reasons why (in her words) India does “not have the competence to play around with GMO food.”

1. No technological expertise: Our biosafety (prevention of risks associated with biotechnology processes) competence has not improved at all. We need officials trained in genetics who can understand the biosafety data. We have none.

2. No proper field trials: The GMO crop trials are understood [but] nobody follows them. Take the trials of Bt rice conducted in Jharkhand in 2004. We found that one of the farms was in the midst of the farmers’ fields. No signboard, no fencing, no containment of any sort. One farmer put in charge of it had been threshing the produce and may have even eaten it. Later we found volunteer plants (those that grow on their own) had come up on the farm. We sent them for testing and of course they were GM.

3. Government corruption and greed: When we informed the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) that Jharkhand has the highest genetic diversity of rice and such lapses contaminate everything, they sent us a showcause notice for entering the field instead of taking action against shoddy trials.

4. Danger of losing biodiversity: Both brinjal and mustard [two crops India are allowing in] are cross-pollinating plants, so the consequences will be no single, non-GM mustard or brinjal left. Some say you can segregate, but have we managed to segregate Bt cotton? It has gone everywhere.

5. Larger impact on the environment: Uniformity of biodiversity will have its own environmental implications. There is a well-known phenomenon called gene silencing. Very often plants altered genetically don’t survive because you have interrupted the natural process. Those that do survive, certain genes may stop expressing. What can get silenced we have no idea. Yet we are ready to risk the entire germplasm.

6. Risk of Toxicity in food: Brinjal belongs to the Solanaceae family. It’s the family of not just tomato, chilli and potato but also datura (angel’s trumpets) and belladona. These are some of the most toxic plants. We can’t Read the full post »

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