Punish the village council the same way

August 31st, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Two sisters in India were sentenced to be raped as “punishment” for their brother running away with a married woman from a higher caste in the latest caste incident to shock the country.

Meenakshi Kumari, who is 23, and her sister, 15, would then be paraded naked with their faces blackened through the streets, according to a ruling from the all-male village council.

The sisters have petitioned the country’s Supreme Court to be protected from the so-called “eye-for-an-eye” ruling from the village council in Uttar Pradesh state, 48km from the capital, New Delhi.

It’s the year 2015, and I can’t believe stuff like this is still happening.

Khap panchayats are the archaic systems of village justice that exist in much of rural India. They are dominated by the Jat caste and are almost always run by male village elders. The “courts” often order honour killings and sexual “punishments” and are frequently allowed to operate completely outside the Indian legal system, despite the Supreme Court labelling them “kangaroo courts”.

Here’s an idea. If you can’t get rid of these kanagaroo courts entirely, then how about announcing that any members of a village council that vote for a sentence that causes shame to their country, then have that sentence applies to them. An eye for an eye indeed.

So if these men are going to vote for rape as a punishment for dishonour, then see how they like it. I suspect after a couple of times where they have to endure their own sentences, they’ll stop making such outrageous decisions.

And no I’m not serious, but I am appalled.

857 blocked, only one million to go

August 5th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

India has blocked hundreds of adult websites to prevent pornography becoming a social nuisance, a government official said on Monday, sparking a debate about censorship and freedom in the world’s largest democracy.

In India’s first big crackdown on Internet porn, service providers have been directed to block 857 websites, N N Kaul, a spokesman at the department of telecommunications, told Reuters.

“Free and open access to porn websites has been brought under check,” Kaul said.

“We don’t want them to become a social nuisance.”

Yeah, that will work. Idiots.

Last month, the Supreme Court refused to impose an outright ban after hearing a petition that said Internet porn fuelled sex crime. The court said individuals should be free to access such websites in private.

So the Government is ignoring the court.

Blaming the victim

September 18th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Indian lawyer for two of the four Delhi gang rapists sentenced to hang last week has criticised the victim’s parents for allowing her to go out at night with a boy, and claimed he would have “burnt her alive” if she had been his daughter.

The victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, was attacked by five men and a juvenile on a bus she boarded with her boyfriend. The couple were on their way home from a popular Delhi shopping mall on December 16 last year.

She was gang-raped and attacked with an iron rod. She died two weeks later in hospital.

AP Singh, a defence lawyer who represented two of the convicts, claimed she had had premarital sex and said: “If my daughter was having premarital sex and moving around at night with her boyfriend, I would have burnt her alive. All parents should adopt such an attitude.”

All women should burn the defence lawyer alive for being an arsehole and see how he likes it.


September 11th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Indian court convicted four men of the gang rape and “cold-blooded” murder of a student on a New Delhi bus in a crime that sickened the nation and led to new laws to tackle endemic sex crime.

Judge Yogesh Khanna said the men, who could now face the death penalty, were guilty of murdering a “helpless victim” last December, as he announced that arguments for sentencing of the four would be held tomorrow.

“I convict all of the accused,” Khanna told a packed court room. “They have been found guilty of gang rape, unnatural offences, destruction of evidence … and for committing the murder of the helpless victim.”

The four – Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, aged between 19 and 29 at the time of the crime – had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The men, whose faces were shown by the media for the first time, were economic migrants living in or around a south Delhi slum who were drawn to the city to escape grinding rural poverty.

The victim’s parents, who wept in court as the verdict was announced, have led the calls for them to be hanged, saying that they would only find closure if the four are executed.

It was a horrific crime, and the horror of it has (hopefully) led to a change in both the tolerance and prevalence of sexual assaults in India.

The attack sparked weeks of sometimes violent street protests across India with seething public anger about sex crimes against women.

It also led to tougher laws being passed by parliament in March for sex offenders, including the death penalty for rapists whose victims die or are left in a vegetative state.

But savage attacks against women are still reported daily in India’s newspapers and the gang rape of a photographer last month near an upmarket area of Mumbai rekindled public disgust.

I presume there is some sort for global report that ranks countries from best to worst for women to live in? Would be interesting to see where India is placed.

Quite remarkable in hindsight that Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister, especially in an era where female leaders anywhere was very rare. She became PM in 1966!

Of course the violence against women in India is done by a very small minority. But it does seem until recently it has been swept under the carpet rather than confronted and all efforts made to minimise it.

The Indian tablet revolution

June 27th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Foreign Policy reports:

India’s ruling Congress Party was stunned by the magnitude of recent public protests. For the first time in recent history, India’s normally docile middle class and its youth are speaking up over everything from the country’s recent rape tragedy to the Congress Party’s corruption. Social media and technology have empowered these segments of society in new ways. The digital world has enabled similar rebellions in China and the Middle East.

Information is power.
Information used to be more localized. People were barely aware of the affairs of their own villages let alone in nearby towns or the rest of the country. Governments had the power to feed their citizens whatever propaganda they wanted them to know.
Hence why the Internet should remain free of Government control.
The first global communications revolution began with cell phones. Over a 10-year period the number of cellular subscriptions jumped from a few million to nearly 6 billion (or 87 percent of the world’s population, according to The International Telecommunication Union). These made it possible for families to stay in touch when breadwinners travelled to cities and for workers to connect with employers. They allowed populations to discuss what was happening in different parts of the country and to exchange political views. And they allowed the disenchanted to organize demonstrations via text messages. 
And now?
The next step in this revolution is cheap tablets. India recently launched the Aakash tablet, which provides all the features of more expensive tablets. It has a processer as powerful as the first iPad, twice as much RAM, and an LCD touch screen. One hundred thousand of these devices have been purchased by the Indian government from a company called Datawind for $40 and are being provided to teachers and school children for a subsidized price of $20. Meanwhile, Datawind has sold 1 million of these commercially at a price of $60. CyberMedia Research says that within two quarters of its introduction, the Aakash tablet has leaped ahead of Apple in terms of market share in India.
Tablets for $20 to $60. That is very cool. And huge possibilities for kids’ education.

He should have stood trial

March 12th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

One of the men accused of raping a 23-year-old woman on a Delhi bus found dead in jail. …

The alleged ringleader in a gang rape and murder case that sparked outrage across India, Singh was found dead in his prison cell on Monday, once again putting the New Delhi slum he used to call home in an unwanted spotlight.

This is a pity. I think more good would have been done by having him stand trial, and the country and the world hearing what happened.

Authorities in New Delhi’s Tihar jail said Singh hanged himself before dawn. His father rejected that explanation, saying he believed his son was murdered.

“He confessed about his mistake, then why would he commit suicide? He was prepared for any punishment the government would have given him,” Mange Lal Singh told reporters in his home in the slum.

His mistake???

I think we are starting to see how attitudes can be passed on from one generation to the next.

Legal experts said Singh’s death does not undermine the prosecution’s case against the other accused, which was largely based on DNA evidence and the testimony of the rape victim before she died and her friend.


Abhorrent attitudes

January 10th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Indian spiritual leader has sparked outcry by claiming the student raped and murdered in New Delhi was partly responsible for what happened and should have pleaded with her attackers to leave her alone.

It was the latest in a series of controversial comments campaigners say highlight a mindset within the heartland of India that permits such assaults to take place.

Asaram Bapu, a self-styled guru, told followers in Rajasthan the 23-year-old was “as guilty as her rapists”. He claimed: “The five or six drunken men were not the only ones guilty. The girl was also responsible … she should have called the culprits ‘brothers’ and begged them to stop.”

I’m pretty sure she did, as they raped her to death.

Words can’t express how angry comments like this make me. In my darker moments I almost wish a group of men would rape and violate the self-styled guru, and see if at the end of it he still blames the victim.

A Chhattisgarh provincial minister said sexual assaults on women were taking place because “women’s stars are not in their favour”. He made the comment after allegations emerged that 11 tribal girls had been raped by a teacher in the state.

Words fail me.

The scale of the women problem in India

January 4th, 2013 at 1:02 pm by David Farrar

Nevil Gibson writes in NBR:

New research by economists Siwan Anderson and Debraj Ray estimates that in India, more than 2m women are missing in a given year.

The economists found that roughly 12% of the missing women disappear at birth, 25% die in childhood, 18% at the reproductive ages, and 45% at older ages.

They found that women died more from “injuries” in a given year than while giving birth – injuries, they say, “appear to be indicator of violence against women.”

Deaths from fire-related incidents, they say, is a major cause – each year more than 100,000 women are killed by fires in India. The researchers say many cases could be linked to demands over a dowry leading to women being set on fire. Research also found a large number of women died of heart diseases.

These findings point to life-long neglect of women in India.

The scale of the abuse is simply staggering. If you adjusted for the respective population sizes, that would be like 20,000 women a year just going missing in NZ. it would be 500 women a year being killed by fires.

It sounds like this gang rape murder may be the catalyst that leads to actual significant change. Let’s hope so.


The India rape victim dies

December 30th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A woman whose gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about violence against women in India died from her injuries, prompting promises of action from a government that has struggled to respond to public outrage.

The unidentified 23-year-old medical student suffered a brain injury and massive internal damage in the December 16 attack and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.

Protesters rallied peacefully in the capital New Delhi and other cities across the country to keep the pressure on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government to get tougher on crimes against women. That was in contrast to the pitched battles protesters fought with police last weekend.

I wasn’t previously aware that India was so backwards in its treatment of sex crimes against women. I was aware how barbaric it was in certain Middle Eastern countries and parts of Africa. But this case has really shone the light on India.

Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say that successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women.

Political leaders vowed steps to correct “shameful social attitudes” towards women in the world’s biggest democracy.

The details of the attack are gruesome, made almost unbelievable that it was allowed to occur on a moving bus for an hour – and no one called the Police.

“For some reason, and I don’t really know why, she got through to us,” well-known columnist Nilanjana Roy wrote in a blog on Saturday.

“Our words shrivelled in the face of what she’d been subjected to by the six men travelling on that bus, who spent an hour torturing and raping her, savagely beating up her male friend.”

Sonia Gandhi, the powerful leader of the ruling Congress party, directly addressed the protesters in a rare broadcast on state television, saying that as a mother and a woman she understood their grievances.

“Your voice has been heard,” Gandhi said. “It deepens our determination to battle the pervasive and the shameful social attitudes that allow men to rape and molest women with such impunity.”

The victim and her male friend were returning home from the cinema, media reports say, six men on their bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. Media said a rod was used in the rape, causing internal injuries. Both were thrown from the bus. The male friend survived.

Absolute animals.  I hope they are found guilty and never freed.

A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.

New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India’s major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 per cent between 2007 and 2011.

And that’s just reported ones.

Labour on India FTA

July 4th, 2011 at 6:53 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

Labour has been accused of “trying to have it both ways” on free trade, after one of its MPs raised concerns over the outsourcing of labour to India.

On her Twitter account yesterday, Labour MP for Dunedin South, Clare Curran, posted the question: “Wonder what we’ll hand over. More labour outsourcing?” alongside a link to a media report on negotiations for a free trade agreement with India.

Labour leader Phil Goff last week said Labour supported an FTA with India.

As trade minister in 2007, Mr Goff launched a feasibility study for the deal, which he said at the time “would have significant economic benefit for New Zealand”.

“We went into it, we laid the foundation, and were supporting this government building on that foundation,” he said last week.

Ms Currankeep said she did not have concerns about an FTA with India and that her statement had been particularly in relation to the outsourcing of contracts to countries like India.

Oh dear. So Clare is saying she is against free trade, if it involves a contract.

We own Phil Goff and Helen Clark a debt, for keeping Labour away from going down the failed path of protectionism. The FTA with China is a huge credit to them.

My concern is once Goff goes. Labour have already started backsliding on issues such as monetary policy, and my fear is that post-Goff they will join the Greens as an anti-trade party.

I hope not, as trade should be as bi-partisan as possible – and largely has been for the last 20 years or so. But it obvious from Clare Curran’s comments she doesn’t in fact support free trade, and she would not be alone in the Labour caucus with that view. To be fair, I suspect there are a few protectionists in National also.

India FTA negotiations start

February 1st, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

India and New Zealand have begun negotiations for a free trade agreement which Trade Minister Tim Groser says will put New Zealand in a prime place to benefit from India’s economic growth. …

Mr Groser said a deal held “great promise” for New Zealand businesses and negotiators would target the high barriers to trade. India had a population of more than one billion and was expected to be the third-largest economy in the world by 2025.

India’s GDP currently is US1.2 trillion – around ten times the size of New Zealand’s

He expected negotiations to be prolonged. India was not one of New Zealand’s traditional trading partners, partly because the high trade barriers on major New Zealand exports, such as wood products and agriculture, had held back trade.

That suggests the benefits of an FTA with India could be a lot larger than with countries with relatively low barriers.

A great story

October 18th, 2009 at 2:57 pm by David Farrar

From the BBC:

Around the world millions of children are not getting a proper education because their families are too poor to afford to send them to school. In India, one schoolboy is trying to change that. In the first report in the BBC’s Hunger to Learn series, Damian Grammaticas meets Babar Ali, whose remarkable education project is transforming the lives of hundreds of poor children.

At 16 years old, Babar Ali must be the youngest headmaster in the world. He’s a teenager who is in charge of teaching hundreds of students in his family’s backyard, where he runs classes for poor children from his village.

The story of this young man from Murshidabad in West Bengal is a remarkable tale of the desire to learn amid the direst poverty. …

But Chumki is now getting an education, thanks to Babar Ali. The 16-year-old has made it his mission to help Chumki and hundreds of other poor children in his village. The minute his lessons are over at Raj Govinda school, Babar Ali doesn’t stop to play, he heads off to share what he’s learnt with other children from his village.

At four o’clock every afternoon after Babar Ali gets back to his family home a bell summons children to his house. They flood through the gate into the yard behind his house, where Babar Ali now acts as headmaster of his own, unofficial school.

Lined up in his back yard the children sing the national anthem. Standing on a podium, Babar Ali lectures them about discipline, then study begins.

Babar Ali gives lessons just the way he has heard them from his teachers. Some children are seated in the mud, others on rickety benches under a rough, homemade shelter. The family chickens scratch around nearby. In every corner of the yard are groups of children studying hard.

Babar Ali was just nine when he began teaching a few friends as a game. They were all eager to know what he learnt in school every morning and he liked playing at being their teacher. …

Now his afternoon school has 800 students, all from poor families, all taught for free. Most of the girls come here after working, like Chumki, as domestic helps in the village, and the boys after they have finished their day’s work labouring in the fields.

Is that not simply an amazing story?

Clark gives in to Bush

September 8th, 2008 at 9:27 am by David Farrar

New Zealand has dropped its opposition to a US-India nuclear deal after a phone call between George W Bush and Helen Clark.

India is delighted:

This followed tough negotiations in which several small NSG states agreed under heavy U.S. pressure to weaker language than they had sought to ensure India does not test atom bombs again.

“I thank the United States and other member countries of the Nuclear Suppliers Group for the role they have played in ensuring this outcome,” Singh said.

The NY Times says:

Its critics warned that such a sweeping exemption for India, which has developed an atomic weapons program but steadfastly refused to sign the global nonproliferation treaty, sets a dangerous precedent.

The NZ Government is said to have wanted three concessions:

  1. Action to be taken should India resume nuclear testing;
  2. For India to sign up to an International Atomic Energy Agency protocol extending its monitoring powers;
  3. A review of the exemption.

Could someone advise how many of these were formally agreed to? Is India signing up to such a protocol?

Personally I have no issues with the deal. I am just highlighting how the lofty rhetoric of the Clark administration fades way under a phone call from Duyba.

Do the Greens have anything to say?

Will NZ support nuclear proliferation?

August 14th, 2008 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

A interesting test is coming of Labour’s rhetoric on nuclear issues? They campaign relentlessly against all things nuclear. They say they want the world to go anti-nuclear.

Yet strangely, they appear to be on the verge of granting an exemption from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to India, due to pressure from the US and India.

Phil Goff himself says this will weaken the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, yet this is under active consideration.

Now imagine if this was a National Government in office. Labour would probably be denouncing the Government for its lust for uranium and demanding we veto any waiver.

So this will be an interesting test for Labour – will its anti-nuclear rhetoric be as hollow as its carbon neutrality rhetoric?