Court allowing the perpetrator of aggravated sexual assault to meet the child victim – Press Conference

Bengaluru, 23 December, 2014

Today a press conference was organised by human rights and civil society activists at The Press Club of Bangalore, at 1:30 PM. The press conference was addressed by:

1. Manohar Elavarthi, State Coordination Committee Member, Swaraj Abhiyan
2. Mathew Philip, Director, SICHREM
3. Gowri, Mahila Munnade
4. Akhila Vidyasandra, lawyer
They publicly appealed to Suja Jones, not to abide by the Order of the Hon’ble High Court, permitting the perpetrator of aggravated sexual assault with the victim. They also said that the Order of the Hon’ble High Court is against the law and against the child rights and constitution of India.

photo1

Here is the contents of the Press Release shared at the press conference:

 ——————–

 Predicament of Suja Jones

Suja Jones, mother of three young children and wife of an employee of French Consulate, Bengaluru Pascal Mazurier, had lodged a complaint in June 2012 with the police that her daughter who was aged 3 years 10 months was raped and sodomised by her husband. She had to face great amount of difficulty to even get her complaint registered. 

The police filed charge sheet against the accused for having committed an offence under section 376 of IPC (the law of POCSO Act came into existence three weeks after the complaint). The learned Sessions Judge, framed charge of Section 377 IPC as there were sufficient evidence against the accused Pascal Mazurier. 

While the proceedings were thus pending law relating sexual abuse has seen phenomenal changes bringing of changes in the definition of Rape, severity of punishment, presumption of absence of consent et al. 

The procedures of conducting cases also has changed. Today all the cases are conducted before a special court of child rights. So is the case of the daughter of Suja Jones. There have been number on instances where the accused who has committed heinous crime against his own daughter has been going to the media claiming his innocence and his love for his children. He has been harassing  Suja Jones over a period of time. 

First he sought permission to meet the children in the Family Court that was denied. Thereafter he sought for rights of his parents (grandparents of children) to visit the children. The same was permitted. The Hon’ble High Court permitted him to meet his two sons on some weekends by the order of the Hon’ble High Court. There are number of instances he has tried to influence the children. 

Now the accused emboldened by the orders has sought for visiting all the children for Christmas. Hon’ble High Court has permitted him to meet the children including the victim on Chrtitmas!!!

It is unfortunate that while the procedures of cases of such nature are to be conducted in accordance with the understanding of law, the existing POCSO Act, the order of the Hon’ble High Court is oblivious of the same. 

a) The law presumes guilt of the accused person under section 29. It is the accused who has to disprove the charges levelled against him. In the present case the trial is pending the victim child is to be examined yet. 

b) The law prescribes that the victim child shouldn’t be exposed to accused person nor shall come into contact with person during the investigation or during the proceedings in the court.  

c) Pascal Mazurier has been trying to meet the children on number of occasions just using the claim of his love of children with help of some organisations and some of the media.

Hon’ble High Court has not looked into the interest of the victim child and has passed such an order permitting the accused person to meet the victim child. The same is against the law that is to ensure that the victim child is protected.  Hon’ble High Court order is insensitive to the rights of the children and the harm that may happen to the psyche of the victim child and the other two boys who may get confused. All the efforts of accused somehow to gain sympathy of all and to influence the children is evident. 

The Hon’ble High Court order adds to the misery of the mother of the victim who is to expose the child to such a situation. 

——————–

A child who has suffered sexual abuse from a close family member goes through enormous trauma, there is a sense of betrayal, a loss of trust, a deep hopelessness and traumatic sexualization.
 
In the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study one of the main routes to healing is when the child discloses the abuse and the caring adults believe the child and take steps to protect the child from further abuse.
 
One of the worst betrayals which causes profound trauma to the child is when the child is disbelieved, or hounded or harassed for having disclosed. A case in point is when the perpetrator is allowed to meet and interact with the child. The child realises that even after having spoken out, he or she is helpless against the perpetrator, who apparently is more powerful than the protectors. In this circumstance the child is terrified that the perpetrator will exact revenge for having spoken. This is a primary way perpetrators try to ensure the child retracts his or her statement and allows the perpetrator to go free.
 
– Dr Shaibya Saldanha, Founder, Enfold Proactive Health Trust
 
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The speakers spoke about the initiation of a nation-wide campaign on this issue and appealed to public to join hands in this struggle for justice.
For more information, contact: 96322 23460/ 87628 04192 .
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City activists take plunge into politics with BBMP polls

http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/view/1851-praja-rajakiya-vedike-bbmp-elections-candidates

This council election will see Veena, a transsexual, and Anil, a former teacher, contesting from Okalipuram (Ward 196) and Hebbal (Ward 21) respectively. Both represent citizen group Praja Rajakiya Vedike.

By Vaishnavi Vittal
15 Mar 2010, Citizen Matters

In what is their first step towards mainstream politics in Bangalore, a group of city-based activists have come together for the BBMP council elections by floating two independent candidates. These activists have formed a group called the Praja Rajakiya Vedike, which will support the candidates in these elections.

Says Elavarthi Manohar, one of the members of this group, “We have all fought with regard to human rights, women’s rights, sexuality minority rights. We wanted to bring about a change. So we all got together”. Manohar is also the founder of Sangama, a sexuality minorities human rights organisation for individuals oppressed due to their sexual preference.

Over the last two years, these activists held meetings and consultations to understand the work and agendas of various political parties in the state. “Big parties are not transparent. Small parties work only during elections”, says Manohar. This was when they decided to form their own political party to create a conducive environment wherein every stakeholder would be equally respected irrespective of their caste, colour or creed. That’s how Praja Rajakiya Vedike came to be formed with about 20 to 30 core members and about 200 supporters. It is however not yet a political party.

For the upcoming elections, two candidates – Veena S, the first transsexual in south India to contest in an election and A Derick Anil, a former teacher and activist – will contest from Okalipuram (Ward 196) and Hebbal (Ward 21) respectively. The duo filed their nomination papers today.

South India’s first hijra contesting from Bangalore’s Okalipuram

Thirty-four year old Veena who works for Dalit rights, sexual minorities, sex workers, domestic workers and garment factory workers, says she decided to contest in the polls as she had always wanted to get into politics.

Veena, contesting bbmp elections

Veena, a transsexual, will contest from Ward 196. If elected, she says she will ensure that the voice of the people will be heard. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

Incidentally, Veena is also the first transsexual in South India who will be contesting in an election.

Hailing from a poor Dalit family, Veena was born and brought up in Okalipuram. She has studied upto 10th standard. From a young age, when she was a boy, she always knew she was different. “I didn’t like being a male”, she says. Tortured and teased by both friends and family, she eventualy got herself castrated and underwent a sex change operation. Initially her parents and four siblings treated her as an outcaste. Today, however, she is the sole bread-winner of the family.

“I’m proud to be a woman today”, she says proudly. Veena doesn’t speak English fluently but understands the language. She speaks Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.

Veena has previously worked with Sangama in the area of HIV-AIDS. She has also worked as Treasurer at Samara, a community organisation of sexual minorities and sexworkers. She recently resigned from this job as she now works full time for Praja Rajakiya Vedike. She is also the Vice President of the Karnataka Sex Workers Union, member of Dalit Mahila Horata Koota and is the President of an Anekal-based group called Sanchaya Nele that works with Dalit women.

For the BBMP elections, Veena says there are several problems in her ward that she is looking to start working on. She says the Corporation school in the area is being closed because of the Metro Rail construction. “Where will the children go to study? I want to fight this,” she says, adding that she also wants to build toilets, a playground, library and proper anganwadis.

Her anger and frustration towards the ruling government is clear when she says, “They want to make green city, silicon city and spend crores on painting the walls. Couldn’t they give this money to the poor?”

Having lived in a low income neighbourhood (commonly known as a slum) herself, Veena says she wants to empower the people of the ward so that their voices are heard.

Even as this is her first election, Veena is confident of winning this time. “Everyone has been supporting me – lawyers, media and others. This has given me the courage to fight. I won’t stop”.

Though Veena belongs to the sexuality minority community and is the first transsexual to contest in an election in Bangalore, her contesting in the election has more to do with her work as an activist than her sexuality. “I don’t think me being a hijra is going to affect votes or the elections”. But she also hopes that more people like her come out and contest in elections next time round. “Things are not like before. Today, when you tell people something, they listen. It gets them thinking.”

Former teacher and PT instructor contesting from Hebbal ward

Taking the plunge along with Veena, is her friend and colleague A Derick Anil, who is contesting from Hebbal.

This former English teacher and physical education instructer, has been actively involved in activism from a young age. Anil has been involved with issues related to consumers, environment, women, agriculture, tribals, Nethravati river diversion and beedi workers. He has previously worked with the Nagarika Seva trust, Society for People and Action for Development, and Centre for Research on Environment, Development Innovations, Technology & Trade (CREDITTe), mostly in the area of research. Anil has a masters degree in sociology.

Anil contesting elections

Anil, who is contesting from Hebbal, wants to make it a model ward. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

He now works independently and is working with regard to Right to Information (RTI), water and sanitation issues.

Ask him why he decided to contest in the elections now and the 37-year-old says, “In my entire activism life, I realised that the decision making body is the government. Many things are promised. Very little is done. Out of what little is done, few lobbies come and hijack that also. That made us think of alternatives”. Politics was one of them, for Anil and his activist friends.

As a child, Anil says he harboured the dream to become the Chief Minister one day! “But that was emotional. I was later averse to politics”. It was in 2007 when he started giving it a serious thought and eventually decided to dive in.

About his ward Hebbal, he says he would like concentrate on the issues of water, waste, sanitation and roads. After elections are over he plans to get information through RTI on all the developmental work that has been carried out in Hebbal in the last three years.

Anil wants to make Hebbal a model ward and envisages that a time should arrive when should not have to knock on the door of an elected representative. “Everything should be available to everyone. There should be equitable distribution”.

He feels that his experience as an activist and involvement in various issues makes him an ideal candidate to win.

“We will ask people for Re 1 and one vote”

Even as both Veena and Anil are using these elections to gain experience in electoral politics, they are working strategically to win. “Opponents are working with money, muscle and liquor. When we go on our door-to-door campaign, we will ask people for one rupee and one vote”, says Veena. They are using this strategy to also mobilise funds for their campaign. Veena and Anil together are looking to spend not more than Rs 4 lakhs on the elections. They are looking for funds from friends, relatives and supporters.

Praja Rajakiya Vedike will use banners and pamphlets to promote their candidates and go around in autos with loudspeakers.

Mainstream parties versus independent candidates

As Manohar explains, the Vedike’s main aim is to bring about a clean, efficient and transparent governance process. They are clear when they say that they are not just a social movement.

Siddharth Narrain, a lawyer with Alternative Law Forum or ALF, feels that this is an indication of the current scenario of politics. “It brings in a different perspective. Both these candidates are raising broader issues. No mainstream politician will focus on the harassment that is meted out to hijras”, he says. ALF is a Bangalore-based lawyers’ collective and has worked with regard to sexual minorities’ rights.

Narrain feels that independent candidates like Veena and Anil have better chances of winning in these local elections. “If they win, it’s a sign that people are fed up with mainstream political parties”.

But those in mainstream politics themselves do not think much of these independent candidates contesting in the elections. BJP MLA (Yeshwanthpur) Shobha Karandlaje feels that these candidates should instead support mainsteam parties like the BJP. “Will they win as independents? It’s not possible when we are working in full force”, she says.

Shobha adds that she herself has worked on issues concerning sexual minorities and will continue to do so.

Congress MLA (Mahalakshmi Layout) Narendra Babu feels that as long as you are committed to serving the public, you can contest. “It doesn’t matter who you are. You need to be service-minded”, he says, adding as an after-thought, “It’ll be better if they contest as a party candidate.”

Meanwhile, for Praja Rajakiya Vedike the BBMP election is the first step in their entry into politics. They are looking to eventually form a political party that respects diversity, equality, non-violence and individual freedom. For now, their eyes are set on winning the city council elections.

15 Mar 2010

Vaishnavi Vittal is a staff journalist with Citizen Matters.

NO ENTRY FOR POOR AND COMMON PEOPLE TO CUBBON PARK AND LALBAGH (BANGALORE) – Join the Protest on 30th November at 4 PM

NO ENTRY FOR POOR AND COMMON PEOPLE TO CUBBON PARK AND LALBAGH

(ENTRY RESTRICTED TO ID CARD HOLDING ELITES ONLY)

 

The Government of Karnataka plans to make ID cards mandatory to enter Cubbon Park and Lalbagh, and that at a cost of Rs 200/person. This is the beginning of the state’s encroachment of people’s right to freely access public spaces and a stage is being set to privatise public commons. All sorts of devious reasons are being flung at the public, including security concerns, morality and misuse of parks by “unnecessary elements”. The manner in which the policy is formulated encourages the particular exclusion of access rights of the urban poor (especially from minorities), street and working children, elderly people, transgenders , migrant workers, labourers, street vendors, drivers of autorickshaws and taxis, differently abled, families with children, etc. The idea of having to carry an ID merely to access these two parks, fundamentally distances them from their unfettered and constitutionally protected Right to Use Public Spaces. This policy also promotes discriminatory access to public spaces as it privileges ‘regular walkers’ and thus negates the very concept of parks as public commons. Simply stated this draconian policy encroaches our very fundamental Right to Live a Healthy Life based on dignified and unfettered access to public spaces. Join the Protest against this fundamental encroachment of Our Right to Access all Public Commons

 

COME JOIN THIS JUST PROTEST WITH FAMILIES, COLLEAGUES, FRIENDS, NEIGHBOURS

 

Queen’s Statue, Cubbon park, Monday, 30th November, 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm

 

Protest initiated by Environment Support Group, Slum Jagatthu, CIEDS, Vimochana, Dalit Sangharsh Samiti- Samyojaka (Bangalore Dist.), Sanmathi, Alternative Law Forum, Sangama, Stree Jagruthi Samithi, CIVIC Bangalore, Hasiru Usiru and Open Space.

 

For more details contact: Environment Support Group,1572, Outer Ring Road, Banshankari 2nd stage, Bangalore-560070 Tel:-91-80-26713559-60 Email:esg@esgindia.org, bhargavi@esgindia.org Website: http://www.esgindia.org

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