September 24, 2010

Times of India

20 get double life terms in infamous sex scandal

Ahmednagar : District and session court Judge Makarand Keskar has convicted 20 accused to two life terms for their involvement in the 2006 high profile sex scandal.
The judgment was delivered by the court late last evening.

The judge also fined all the convicts Rs 10,000 each for every section they were charged with, out of which 50 per cent amount will be given to the victim, failing which they will have to undergo additional jail terms of three months to one year.

A total of 25 people comprising local politicians, businessmen and hotel owners had been booked in the case. However, the main accused Sheela Bargal, died a couple of months after the case was registered in February 2006. Three suspects are still absconding. The verdict against another accused Satish Pakhare, has been postponed to December 20 since he is in hospital following a serious accident.

According to the police report in 2006, Bargal used to clandestinely supply girls to customers and lure the minor girls with promise of giving money.

The case was exposed by Childline-Shehalaya in Ahmednagar following a tip-off.

Childline convinced the victims, two minor girls, to file a police complaint at the Tofkhana police station. The minor girls were gangraped in various lodges in Ahmednagar, Shirdi, NimgaonJali and Dhule by the 25 accused. Since several local politicians and traders were involved in the scandal, the case was handed over to the state Crime Investigation Department (CID), which had filed a chargesheet.

The convicts were punished under section 376(2)(G)gang rape, 120(B), 376(Rape),120(B) and section 5(A)(1)(D) of the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act(PITA) and 366 (kidnapping).

The case was pleaded by special Public Prosecutor Advocate Vijay Sawant.


Sonia Gandhi drives Krishna Tirath to frame child abuse law

Under pressure from their boss — Congress president Sonia Gandhi — the ministries of law and women and child development (WCD) have quickly set aside their differences and together prepared the draft the for Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill.

The proposed law will cover all new aspects of sexual offences against children and recommend stringent punishment. Once it is passed, this law will take priority over other laws on the same subject.

The move comes after Gandhi wrote to WCD minister Krishna Tirath asking her to hasten up the process of formulating the law and coordinate with the law ministry, which had already prepared a law on similar lines .

“I understand that this omnibus legislation is likely to take some time...There is a need to immediately bring a law that addresses the issue of sexual offences against children with care and sensitivity, without waiting for a more comprehensive legislation on child offences in general which may take time,” Gandhi wrote to Tirath in her capacity as chairperson of National Advisory Council.

After the rap from Sonia, the two ministries got their acts together and readied the draft of the proposed legislation. Tirath has now informed Gandhi that the bill has been vetted by secretaries of both ministries and is ready for circulation. This is being done to get the views of various departments and ministries. According to Tirath, the bill is likely to be introduced in the winter session of Parliament.

The bill aims to protect children against sexual assault, sexual harassment, pornography and provide for the establishment of special courts to try such offences. The punishment recommended for penetrative sexual assault is at least five years imprisonment and a minimum fine of Rs50,000. Sexual assault also includes fondling the child and will invite a penalty of minimum three years imprisonment. There is a special provision that makes use of children in pornography punishable.

Possessing child pornographic material also carries punishment. According to the bill, the media, studios and photographers are obliged to report child pornography cases and a failure to do so will attract punishment.

To prevent misuse of the law, there is a six-month jail term for all those who make false complaints and give false information. While reporting child abuse, the media will be barred from identifying the victim and the accused’s children or giving other personal details.

The bill also proposes the setting up of special courts to deal with child abuse and suggests sensitive ways to deal with crime against children.

September 14, 2010

Times of India

Poverty is no grounds for showing leniency, says HC

MUMBAI: Upholding a trial court verdict that sentenced a man to nine years in prison for raping, trespass and threatening to kill a 22-year-old woman, the Bombay high court observed that poverty cannot be a reason to show leniency towards a rape accused.

Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code states that the maximum punishment for the offence is seven years, but for special reasons, lesser punishment may be imposed. Citing Supreme Court judgments, Justice Bhangale observed that "the socio-economic status of the accused or his religion, caste, creed are irrelevant factors''.

In 2006, Satinath Raut, a labourer, raped a woman in his village in Bhandara district. The incident occurred late at night when the woman was alone at home with her three-year-old daughter. Her husband and mother-in-law were away. The prosecution alleged that the accused had entered the victim's house, and taking advantage of the fact that she was alone, had threatened her with a knife and raped her.

In February 2007, a sessions court sentenced Raut to nine years on charges of rape, criminal trespass and threatening to kill the victim. He was also asked to pay the victim Rs 1,000 as compensation.

In 2009, Raut appealed before the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court. In his appeal, he pleaded that he has five children and an aged mother to look after. Hence, the sentence imposed upon him for rape should be reduced for the period he has already undergone. Refusing to accept this, the court observed, "His socio-economic status cannot constitute adequate and special reason. Punishment, which is to be imposed upon the convict, has to be proportionate to the crime committed. The court has to bear in mind the society's cry for justice.''

Justice Bhangale also observed, "It might have been otherwise, had the victim herself come forward with an affidavit to forgive the appellant and to pray for lenient sentence for him.''

Times of India

Bill seeks cover for kids during trial

NEW DELHI: In a move that could bring greater sensitivity to investigation and handling of child sexual assault cases, a new bill proposes that children not be forced to confront the accused while testifying and the evidence be recorded within a month.

These child-friendly measures have been included in the 'Prevention of Offences against Child Bill 2009' by the ministry of women and child development (WCD).

"The special court shall ensure that the child is not exposed in any way to the accused at the time of evidence, while at the same time ensuring that the accused is in a position to hear the statement of the child and communicate with his advocate," the draft says. The proposed legislation also recommends that policemen appear in plainclothes so as not to intimidate the victim. Though the Supreme Court has laid down some guidelines on the issue, these are followed by courts only erratically.

Children can also use the services of an interpreter and will have to give evidence only in camera. The bill is likely to come up in the Union Cabinet by next month and may be introduced in the winter session of Parliament. WCD minister Krishna Tirath said, "We are introducing child-friendly procedures in the proposed bill to ensure cases of child sexual assault are handled with greater sensitivity." The bill — that is expected to address any unlawful physical contact with sexual intent — also adds pornography as an offence. Using a minor for pornography could make an individual liable for RI for 5 years extendable to 7 years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh extendable to Rs 10 lakh. Penalty for penetrative sexual assault has been proposed to be 10 years which could be extended to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.

Whoever commits sexual assault can be punished with imprisonment of 3 years and Rs 25,000 as fine. Incidentally, the ministry has also asked the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights ( NCPCR) to explore changes in the Juvenile Justice Act to include stringent punishment for corporal punishment and ragging in educational institutions. A study by the WCD ministry found that 53% of children in India were sexually abused. Of these, a large majority (70%) remain unreported because the perpetrator is someone close to the child.

Former law commission member Kirti Singh said, "It is a good thing that child-friendly procedures are being adopted. I, however, feel that the definition of sexual assault has been narrowed instead of being widened." Sexual assault has been described as "whoever with sexual intent touches the vagina, penis, anus or breasts of the child or makes the child touch the vagina, penis, anus or breasts of other person, or does any other act with sexual intent which involves physical contact without penetration is said to commit sexual assault". Singh said the definition was too convoluted and simply describing the crime as "unlawful physical contact with sexual intent" would have been clearer.

September 7, 2010

DNA/ Hindustan Times

Malaysia plans special school for pregnant teenagers

Malaysian state authorities will soon open a school exclusively for pregnant teenagers to help them overcome the stigma of having children without being married, an official said on Wednesday.

The school will be able to accept about 30 students starting Sept 16, making the southern state of Malacca the first in this Muslim-majority country to have such an institution, said school chairman Abdul Rahman Abdul Karim.

The plan comes after Malaysian officials have voiced increasing concerns about teenagers who inadvertently become pregnant and drop out of school. Some young mothers have abandon their babies in garbage dumps, bushes or public toilets.

The Islamic affairs department in Malacca will run the school and offer classes in math, science, English and other subjects alongside religious counseling for the girls, Abdul Rahman said. They can also stay in a hostel next to the school.

"We want to give them a second chance to rebuild their future," Abdul Rahman said, "After they deliver their babies, the girls can go back to their ordinary schools."

Sex without wedlock remains a taboo for many Muslims in Malaysia, where more than 50 babies have been found abandoned so far this year. Many of them died. Officials in Malacca have recorded at least 170 babies born without wedlock this year. More than 70 were delivered by teenage girls. Malacca's chief minister recently encouraged Muslim teenagers to get married if they cannot resist having sex and promised to allocate state funds to help them start a family.

Times of India

Saki Naka girl cried rape at aunts behest

Mumbai: The rape charges levelled by a 12-year-old girl from Saki Naka against nine persons,including her cousin,has turned out to be false.

The girl,who is currently lodged at Mankhurd Children Home,has told the police that her aunt,Jyotsna Bapat,and uncle had forced her to lodge a false complaint.And,the police said,the Bapats had wanted to frame the nine in a fake rape case to settle some old scores over a property dispute and also to extract money from them.Jyotsna also named her son,Daval (22),in the case to make it appear real.

The police will submit a B Summary (false complaint) case to court that will decide on the further course of action.The girls aunt had found out that she had an illicit relationship with her uncle.The girl has claimed that her aunt blackmailed her into lodging the complaint to frame one of the accused and his employees.Jyotsna was involved in a property dispute with the person concerned, the police said.

Based on the girls complaint lodged on March 19,a paint shop owner,Jamuna Sharma (71),his son Rajesh,his employees,Jitendra Yadav (25),Vinod Yadav (27),Vakil Ahmed (27) and Premchand Pandit (35),Daval,his friend Raj Sharma and another person were booked.The girl claimed that Daval and Raj were the main culprits,each of whom had raped her six times since 2008.

Of the accused persons,six were released on bail,while three got anticipatory bail.Daval had been at large for some times.But last month,he came to us and told us that he was out of the city and not hiding.He also said he did not have any clue why his parents did such a thing, Saki Naka senior inspector S R Dhanedhar said.

Deputy commissioner of police (Zone X) Prakash Mutyal said,We are searching for the aunt and uncle who have gone into hiding.

Times of India

Helpline launched for women and children

Adipath Foundation and Research Centre, a newly formed NGO believes in prevention of abuse and trauma of women and children at home. This NGO aims to extend a helping hand to victims of physical abuse, particularly women and children. In an attempt to reach out to such victims, the foundation has launched at toll-free helpline number, which is presently functioning in the city and the state of Maharashtra.
Talking about the unique initiative, advocate Neelima Kanetkar, general secretary of the foundation, stated, “Adi means beginning in Sanskrit and path means 'marg' or a way/ road. Adipath, therefore, means beginning of a new path for such victims.

We are a team of experts from various fields and we will provide counseling, knowledge with regards to legal rights, medical advice depending on the case of the caller. In the first stage, we will counsel them over the telephone, depending on the seriousness of the situation. If there is a need for personal interaction, we will refer them to the nearest centre/ trust/ social welfare organization.”

In the words of Dr Madhuri Gurjar, vice-president of the foundation, “We will also hold awareness campaigns, workshops, seminars etc in the educational institutions to address issues like pre-marriage counseling, pre and post-divorce counseling, empowerment of women, legal literacy with regard to rights of women and children in distress.

We have already finalized with colleges like Ruparel and we are in the process of holding such camps at institutions like Indian Education Society’s schools spread across the city including the suburbs of Mulund and Bhandup.” According to the members, teenagers also need to be aware of their legal rights because being soft targets; they often become victims of physical abuse.

Hence, there is a need to create public awareness to enlighten different groups at large to deal with their problems and also to prevent abuse/ trauma at home. According to Meera Joshi, the other vice president and retired LIC officer, “We have restricted our helpline service, which is functioning from 12 - 6 pm, only to Maharashtra.

The caller can tell us their problems over the telephone, without disclosing their identity. We will guide and counsel them depending on their problem or impart information of available services in the proximity of the caller.The foundation is supported by several eminent patrons like Justice Sri Krishna, Dr Snehalata Deshmukh (former vice-chancellor, Mumbai University), Kalindi Muzumdar (former vice-principal, Nirmala Niketan college of Social work), Mahesh Kothare (accomplished film-maker from the Marathi film industry) and others.

To raise the necessary financial resources for this noble cause, the foundation collaborated with Klub Nostalgia, (a Powai-based musical event management organization) to organize a musical show on August 13.N R Ventatachalam, founder of Klub Nostalgia, added, “The musical show was held at Yeshwant Natya Mandir, as a musical tribute to Mohd Rafi, to mark his 30th death anniversary.

All our shows are done for charity. This NGO deals with a noble cause, so we provided a platform during this show wherein the audience were given some information regarding the toll free number and its purpose.”

Toll free helpline -- 1800 220 205 from 12 – 6 pm. Sunday closed.
Alternate contacts: 99670 15120/ 98207 97377

Times of India

Wild fantasies step out of bedrooms

Bestiality,Zoophilia Not Uncommon In India,Say Experts At Sex Meet
Chennai: Stories about group of young boys having sex with buffaloes in rural South India,upwardly mobile women tutoring dogs in intercourse,and a group of frequent flyers travelling in search of stallions tumbled out of doctors case sheets after US-based sex therapist Hani Miletski spoke about bestiality and zoophilia during 26th national sex conference being held in the city.The session,however,did not arrive at a conclusion whether bestiality,which is punishable under Section 377 (unnatural sex) of the Indian Penal Code,was right or wrong.In fact,the session raised more questions than answers.Yet,everyone agreed bestiality is not rare in India.

Chennai-based sexologist Dr Narayana Reddy said six months ago,a young couple from Vellore had visited him.The initial complaint was that the man had problems of erectile dysfunction.They were married for five years but they never had sex.

When I independently investigated,I found that the 29-year-old man preferred buffaloes as partners.He has been having sex with female buffaloes for several years along with the boys in his age group, he said.In another case,he said,an upwardly mobile woman preferred to involve her pet dog whenever her spouse wanted to have sex.

Its complicated to give solutions.For now,we ask our clients what they are looking for.On most occasions,its an attempt to save the marriage and we help them, Dr Reddy said.There are,however,no studies indicating statistics on sexual activity with animals in the country.But by practice,most sexologists say its high in the rural areas and among those living in close proximity of livestock.

Miletski, who carried out a study on bestiality for a doctoral dissertation at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, said there were two classes of people having sex with animal - the bestialites and zoophiles. While bestialites are those who have sexual contacts with an animal or use them when they don’t find human partners, zoophiles prefer an animal as a sex partner, often forming deep emotional relationships with them. Though the practice is as old as 25,000 years, there is still little knowledge about this, she said.

As for the number of people involved, she quoted a US-based study done by Kinsey which indicated that 8% of men and 4% of women in the US were indulging in sex with animals. In her own study, Miletski surveyed the answers of given by 93 people82 men and 11 women to the questionnaire. Many of her samples admitted that they felt disgusted with the thought of having sex with humans. She quoted one of them: Ask a homosexual if they want to have sex with opposite gender. There were a flood of questions, but most had no definite answers. Some doctors argued that people indulging in animal sex have as much rights to fight for legality as much as homosexuals. Many others chose to oppose it because it could lead to dangerous consequences.

Times of India
Hindustan Times

Rights Group Condems India's Rape Test

India's government, which is reforming its sexual violence laws, should ban the unscientific, degrading "finger test" on rape victims, Human Rights Watch said.
In a report released Monday, the organization said the continued use of the archaic practice, and reliance on the results by many defense lawyers and courts, perpetuates false, damaging stereotypes of rape survivors as "loose" women.

The procedure, described in outdated medical jurisprudence textbooks, involves a doctor inserting fingers in a rape victim's vagina to determine the presence or absence of the hymen and the so-called "laxity" of the vagina. Defense attorneys use the findings to challenge the credibility and character of the survivors.

"This test is yet another assault on a rape survivor, placing her at risk of further humiliation," said Aruna Kashyap, women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The Indian government should heed demands of Indian activists to abolish this degrading and useless practice."

The report, "Dignity on Trial: India's Need for Sound Standards for Conducting and Interpreting Forensic Examinations of Rape Survivors," is based on interviews in Mumbai and Delhi with activists, rape survivors and their parents, prosecutors, other lawyers, judges, doctors and forensic experts. Research also included an analysis of 153 High Court judgments on rape that referred to finger-test findings.
HRW said the Indian government should prohibit the tests and align medical treatment and forensic examinations of sexual violence victims with rights to health, privacy, dignity, and legal remedy.

The rights organization said the government should introduce sensitivity programs for doctors, police, prosecutors and judges concerning the rights of survivors, as well as establish multidisciplinary teams in all government hospitals that are sensitive to survivors and can conduct tests that respect their rights.