Gender budgeting and justice, death for Ranchi rapist, ‘Kiss of Love’

The 24 December edition of Note This — our weekly round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

Asavari Singh
Dec 24, 2019 · 4 min read
Economist Lekha Chakraborty has played a pivotal role in institutionalising gender budgeting in India. Photo courtesy: The Levy Economics Institute, Bard College, New York

“There’s an inverse relationship between gender-budgeting and violence against women,” says noted economist Lekha Chakraborty. In an interview with NewsTracker’s Ananya Gouthi, she talks about gender budgeting in justice, the Nirbhaya Fund, the economic relevance of #MeToo, and how the media can help.

Editor’s pick

In பாலியல் + சம்பவம் ≠ rape, NewsTracker’s Pranati Narayan Visweswaran explores the terminology used for different acts of sexual violence in Tamil, Hindi and English-language newspapers, and explains why “clarity in reportage” is so important.

Across India: News since last Tuesday

Former BJP MLA from Unnao Kuldeep Singh Sengar was on Friday sentenced to life in prison for the rape of a then 17-year-old girl. The judge said Sengar was a “public servant” who “betrayed people’s faith” and did not deserve any leniency. According to reports, Sengar was observed in tears along with his daughter and sister. The survivor’s family, meanwhile, have said that only the death penalty could have assured them of their security.

This week a detailed piece in the Hindustan Times traced how the survivor “stood up against regional strongman Sengar” in a two-and-a-half year battle that included resistance from the police, threats to her life, judicial indifference and political pressure.

‘Four weeks, four deaths’

The Unnao and other high-profile cases have put the spotlight on Uttar Pradesh’s poor track record with women’s safety. According to a Quint report, despite the Chief Minister insisting that the situation has improved, “at least four women, including a minor, died in the state in less than a month — between 30 November and 20 December 2019 — after they were allegedly raped and either set ablaze or shot dead”.

The issue of women being killed after sexual assault attempts (often after they file complaints), of course, is not limited to UP. Last week, a woman in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, died after she was set on fire by a man who had reportedly harassed her for years and against whom the police had allegedly refused to take action.

‘Revenge’ most foul?

In an intriguing opinion piece in the Indian Express, Shah Alam Khan argues that the celebration of the Hyderabad encounter (in which four suspected rapists were shot dead by the police during an exercise to recreate the crime scene) and the passing of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 show the same “disquieting desire for vengeance”. Khan writes that both developments “pushed us and the institutions of our democracy into an ignominious spotlight” and in both cases “the perception was that ‘revenge’ has been extracted”.

POCSO charges against Kerala’s ‘Kiss of Love’ activists

Image is representative. Photo: Lian Chang/Flickr

In Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, anti-moral policing activists Rahul Pashupalan and his partner Reshmi Nair have been chargesheeted for providing underage girls to clients seeking paid sex, reported the Hindu. Nair and Pashupalan received much media coverage is 2015 for their ‘Kiss of Love’ campaign that sought to bring acceptance to public displays of affection. However, police say the couple ran an online “sex trafficking” operation in which at least two minors were sexually exploited.

‘Ranchi Nirbhaya’s’ rapist sentenced to death after month-long trial

In Ranchi, Jharkhand, 23-year-old Rahul Raj was sentenced to death last week for the rape and murder of an engineering student in 2016. The case caused the media to draw parallels with the 2012 Delhi gang-rape since it took place on the same date (16 December) and involved homicidal violence.

The ‘Rajasthan girl’

In her column, Shalini Langer of the Indian Express recalls the rape of a Rajasthan girl in September this year (see here), and says she is now “forgotten…As ordained by the courts, she is cloaked in silence — stripped off any detail of her existence, but for that act”. She adds, “Like the others since ‘Nirbhaya’ (rendered ‘fearless’ in renaming because it sounded so good to our ears), like the Hyderabad woman who was set afire and prompted Andhra Pradesh’s ‘Disha Act’ (giving rape cases a ‘direction’?), the Rajasthan girl is being systematically erased…”

Reading list: Karthavinte Namathil

In her controversial autobiography Karthavinte Namathil (‘In the Name of Christ’), Sister Lucy Kalappura — a Catholic nun from Kerala who says she was expelled by her congregation for supporting another nun who had accused former bishop Franco Mulakkal of rape — writes about sexual harassment and abuse in the church. In this excerpt of the book, translated to English from Malayalam, she writes, “There is plenty of evidence for the invisible patriarchal power that priests hold over the nuns… The perversions these sisters have to endure at the parish are extraordinary.” Incidentally, last week, a court in Kerala stayed her expulsion from the convent until 1 January.

Read more

This roundup is curated from the RSS feeds of more than 30 English news publications from across India.

See the full list of rape and sexual violence cases reported this week and earlier on our web tool, NewsTracker Data. Use our search function or select one of our boards (such as #MeToo, #KeralaPriest, or #PoliticsofRape) to read reports on specific cases and/or themes.

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