Pakistan has twice as many women MPs in India


Times of India
Reservation to ensure fair representation of women in national legislative bodies seems more the norm than the exception globally, with almost 100 countries having some kind of quota system or the other in place. India happens to be in a minority group of over 20 countries that have no system at all to ensure a more gender-balanced national legislature. Hopefully that is soon set to change.

The average proportion of women in the national legislature is 18.5% for the Asian region, considered low by international standards, but almost twice as high as in India (11%). Even within South Asia, only Sri Lanka with 6% has a worse record. Both countries have no quota system for women in their parliaments.

In Pakistan, 22% of the National Assembly seats are held by women, made possible through the quota policy that reserves 17.5% of seats for women. In Nepal, the proportion of women members is 33% thanks to the constitutional stipulation that women must constitute at least 33% of the candidates and electoral laws that mandate that 50% of any party’s candidates should be women. In Bangladesh, a constitutional amendment was brought in to reintroduce quotas for women, by which 45 seats out of the total 345 seats are reserved for women. Following the 2008 election, Bangladesh’s parliament has 65 women MPs, which is 19% of the total seats. Incidentally, China has 21% women in the National People’s Congress without any quota policy.

Rwanda, which has reserved seats for women, happens to be the only country in the world with more women (56%) than men in their national legislative body. This is followed by Sweden with 47%, South Africa (45%), Iceland (43%), Argentina (42%), the Netherlands (41%) and Norway and Senegal with 40%. In the list of 11 countries with the highest representation of women in their national legislature, five (Sweden, South Africa, Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway) have voluntary political party quotas for women. Angola and Costa Rica, both with 37% seats occupied by women, have electoral laws granting quotas. Only two countries in the list Denmark (38%) and Senegal have no quota system.

The widely accepted benchmark to ensure a critical mass of women parliamentarians is 30%. Yet, the proportion of women in parliaments globally stood at just 18.8% in December 2009, according to the Inter parliamentary Union (IPU). By July 2008, 21 countries had successfully met the 30% critical mass target and about a quarter of these were Nordic countries known for long-standing efforts to increase the participation of women, according to the Parliamentary Research division of Canada. Another quarter were so-called post-conflict countries, which took advantage of rebuilding efforts to implement electoral reforms and political party practices, thus jump-starting the effort to boost the representation of women.

It was also noted that a majority of countries that reached the 30% benchmark had done so through measures such as proportional representation systems and electoral quotas. Countries that rely solely on the usual majority electoral system show low levels of representation of women.

The data put together on countries with quota mandated through electoral law or the constitution also indicates that having strict legal sanctions for contravention of the quota system also can show results. For instance, in Argentina, where party lists that do not comply with the electoral law will not be approved, the proportion is 42%. In Belgium, where if a party fails to comply with the gender composition , their list shall be refused by electoral authorities.

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violence against women in India


According to a recent report of National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), violence against women is rampant in India, with southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh having the worst record for crimes against women. For the year 2007-08, NCRB recorded 24,738 cases of crimes committed against women including 1,070 cases of rape, 1,564 cases of kidnapping and abduction, 613 cases of dowry deaths and 11,335 cases of domestic violence in Andhra Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh has also witnessed a stepping of crime against women with the state recording 21,215 cases of violence including 2,066 cases of dowry death, 1,532 cases of rape and 3,819 cases of kidnapping. The NCRB also highlighted many incidents of rape of minor girls committed by the police personnel. Similarly, Haryana a small state has recorded 4,645 incidents of crime with as many as 269 cases of dowry deaths and 488 cases of rape. Bihar leads in cases of domestic violence with 59 percent of married women suffering domestic violence. The NCRB recorded 7,548 cases of crime with 1,555 rape cases, 1,172 dowry death cases and 1,260 kidnapping and abduction cases in the state. These are the statistics of only the reported cases whereas several cases of violence against women goes unreported due to social stigmas attached to them and due to the fear of reprisals and threats from the culprits.

Women in India suffer at different levels and due to different reasons. Violence against women in India is conducted irrespective of caste and class. Women in general and low caste women in particular are the victims of violence. Even the Hindu religion does not provide any security to this creature. The Hindu Holy text sanctify the killing of infant girls, by parents who deem themselves not capable of shouldering the responsibility of having a girl child. The Hindu holy book Bhagvad Gita calls women embodiment of the worst desires and justifies the killing of women. “Killing of a woman, a shudra or an atheist is not sinful. Woman is an embodiment of the worst desires, hatred, deceit, jealously and bad character. Women should never be given freedom”. Bhagvad Gita (Manu 1X. 17 and V.47, 147).The modern democratic India follows these religious teachings of hatred and enmity towards women. The change does come but only in the techniques of the violence. In past, in Hindu society new born girls were buried alive now new born baby girls are either strangled to death or aborted during pregnancy. According to a UNICEF report released in December 2006, about 7,000 fewer girls than expected are born daily in India, and about 10 million fewer girls than expected were born in the past 20 years due to sex discrimination.

Women in India are considered a stigma to honour and are victim of almost all kinds of violence such as rape, domestic violence, abduction, dowry deaths and honour killings. The women living in insurgency infested areas are victims of duel violence. On the one hand they are victimized by army personnel and on the other by rival ethnic groups. Similarly, women other than Hindus particularly Muslims and Christians are victims of hate crime.

Not all sexual harassment and rape cases are reported in India. But by considering the reported cases it becomes evident that in India a women is raped every 29th minute. The NCRB unearthed some extremely disturbing trends in India. Statistics suggest that in 2005 around 50 women were raped and 480 molested and abducted every day. The gravity of the problem is that Indian laws are not very strict for such type of violence against women. No capital punishment is awarded in such cases. Apart from harassment, throwing strong acids such sulphuric acid on the face of the girls and women is rampant in India. This is the most heinous and severe punishment deserving crime. There is no separate law to deal with acid attackers in India. Organizations such as the Campaign and Struggle against Acid Attacks on Women (CSAAAW) are fighting to get acid attacks recognised as a separate crime and an extension of other forms of gender violence. Even a small state like Bangladesh realized the gravity of acid attacks and introduced death penalty against the crime. The Indian government has promised a new law to tackle increasing acid attacks, but that brings no cheer to those who know all too well what they are fighting against a system of hierarchies that rationalises violence. The problem is not acid but the thinking of men that they can control and dictate terms to the women in their lives. There is a need of a law that can restrict the sale of acid and bring offenders to justice. Law only cannot correct these social imbalances there is need that these laws should be implemented in true spirit.

Dowry deaths are also frequent in India. This is the worst crime against the women next to rape. A married girl is burnt to death or killed or tortured by her in-laws and husband for not providing enough gifts or money to them by her parents. Every day 50 cases of dowry related violence are reported and every 3rd minute a case of violence against women is registered in India. Apart from these several women in the tribal areas of India are killed on the pretext of practicing witchcraft. Low casts girls especially dalits in their childhood are made Devdasis to serve God in the temple and they have to leave their home and stay in the temple complex. These girls grew up in the temples and are exploited afterwards

Honour killings are widespread in India and 95 percent of victims of such killings are women. Honour killings in India are classified broadly into two segments, those undertaken by families to protect the honour of individual families and those ordered by caste panchayats to protect caste honour. History of honour killings showed that the victims were beaten to death or pushed into a corn bin. In some cases, the women were asked to get into a narrow tunnel which would be covered with a slab so that they would die of suffocation. Women who were perceived to sully family honour were either murdered or forced to commit suicide. In some cases, unprivileged and dispossessed families living in a feudal society murdered girls the moment they felt they would not be able to protect them from the evil intentions of an all-powerful local zamindar or a chieftain. Brinda Karat MP and CPI (M) Polit Bureau member said, “I had asked a question in parliament on the number of killings related to honour that had taken place so far and the reply I received from the government was that they do not recognize such a category and, therefore, there was no separate collection of such data”. There is no legal definition of the term honour killing or honour crime. As a result, the perpetrators of such crimes more often than not get away with murder, torture, assault, and violation of laws regarding atrocities committed on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. And they continue to commit them with impunity.

There is a need that Indian government should take urgent measures to create awareness through education on the need to end such social crimes against women and initiate comprehensive measures to curb honour killings, acid attacking, rape and dowry deaths etc. In India, there is no respect for women, Dalits and minorities. The government needs to realise that acid attacks and other brutal assaults on women are a manifestation of an ingrained inequality. These attacks are not just about the women they target, they are also about the society that allows such attacks, the hierarchies it has internalised and the voices of protest it has silenced

Naked women Protest Against Indian Army in Indian manipur


IMPHAL (Manipur), – After torching government buildings and parading naked to protest the suspected custodial rape and killing of a woman by federal soldiers, women in Manipur vow to intensify their fight against frequent atrocities in the restive northeast Indian state.

Naked women protestors shout slogans against the alleged rape, torture and murder of Thangjam Manorama by paramilitary soldiers in Imphal, capital of northeastern Indian state of Manipur, Thursday, July 15, 2004. In a highly unusual protest, some 40 women stripped naked and staged an angry demonstration outside the Assam Rifles base to protest the death in custody of 32-year old Manorama. (AP Photo/Str)


An indefinite curfew is in force in Manipur, bordering Myanmar, to quell the uprising, with troops bursting teargas shells, water cannons and firing rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of women trying to break prohibitory orders.

At least 100 women were injured in police attacks since violence broke out Thursday, with some having to undergo surgeries to remove pellets embedded in their bodies.

The action follows violent protests by women in Manipur after the bullet-riddled body of 32-year-old Thangjam Manorama was found on July 10.

Witnesses say Manorama was picked up by soldiers of the paramilitary Assam Rifles from her home on alleged charges of links with separatist rebels.

Hours later, her dead body was reportedly found four kilometers away from her home in the state capital Imphal, with multiple bullet wounds, besides torture signs.

Several women’s groups called a 48-hour general strike the day after Manorama’s body was found, bringing normal life in the state to a grinding halt for two days until July 12.

On Thursday, hundreds of women had stormed the Assam Rifles headquarters in Imphal, with at least 40 parading naked and holding placards that read: “Indian Army rape us” and “Indian Army takes our flesh.”

Authorities imposed an indefinite curfew fearing more protests. But women in hundreds started defying the curfew from Friday night by taking to the streets, prompting the police to resort to force to keep the protestors at bay.

On Sunday, protestors torched at least half-a-dozen government buildings, making authorities cut short a curfew relaxation.

“We want to punish the soldiers involved in the brutal killing of Manorama and so we are demanding handing over the errant soldiers to us,” says Memchaoubi Devi, president of the women’s rights group Porei Lemarol Meira Phaibi Apunba Manipur.

She adds, “It is better to protest naked than allow the soldiers to kill and rape our women.”

A total of 32 women’s groups have come under one platform to protest the killing. Women in Manipur are known for taking up cudgels against social issues.

“This protest is not going to die down until and unless the guilty soldiers are punished. Even if someone is involved in militancy, he or she should be brought to the court of law and not just killed or raped,” lashes out Leirik Devi, president of the Kangla Mei, another powerful women rights group.

She vows, “We are prepared to shed blood but cannot allow the soldiers to outrage the modesty of our daughters. This protest will intensify.”

Bowing to mounting pressure, the Assam Rifles Saturday removed an unspecified number of soldiers from duty against whom there was a court of inquiry ordered to probe the alleged custodial death.

Assures Assam Rifles spokesman Major SD Goswami, “Anybody found guilty would be punished.” The state government has also ordered a probe following rising pressure from women’s groups.

But women’s groups in the state have refused to call off their agitation even after the suspected soldiers were said to be taken off duty.

Says Leirik Devi, “Until and unless we get a concrete assurance from the authorities that cases like rape or custodial killings will not recur, and stern action is taken against those errant soldiers, we are not going to stop our agitation.”

“We cannot stop atrocities committed on the women by security forces unless we resort to radical forms of protest like stripping in public.”

Manipur has witnessed an increase in excesses by armed forces on civilians and human rights violations in the name of curbing insurgency.

Charges rights campaigner T Singh, “The number of cases of rights violations, torture and rape by security forces has increased manifold. The Special Powers Armed Forces Act prevalent here gives security forces unlimited powers and impunity against rights violations.”

“Our reports say there were at least 50 cases of third degree tortures on innocent civilians accused of aiding militancy in the past one year. At least a dozen custodial deaths were reported in the same period, while a number of cases have gone unreported.”

In October last year, 15-year-old Sanjita Devi committed suicide after being allegedly molested by army soldiers in Manipur. The army instituted a court of inquiry, but the findings were never made public.

Says another women’s leader, Sarojini Devi, “Such inquiries are nothing but a farce.”

There are over 19 separatist groups active in Manipur, bordering Myanmar, with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right self-determination.

More than 10,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Manipur in the past two decades. Even the state government admits there were excesses committed by armed forces on the civilians.

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who is the elected head of the state, in a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the federal government to “restrain and do the needful to check the conduct of security personnel” deployed in the state.

But for now, Manipur is in turmoil with the women folk determined to intensify their protests.

Skirts and shirts with Curves!


Interesting that our values dictate that we use sex to increase viewership since this became the expectation in sports. Other third-world-countries “backward” thinking in their treatment of women is now applied by us in the West! Are women no more than SEX OBJECTS?

Table Tennis-Women urged to wear shirts with “curves”

By Simon Rabinovitch

BEIJING, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Table tennis is desperate to attract more viewersand some in the sport believe a simple enough solution exists: get the women to wear skirts and shirts with “curves”.

Half-empty stands for women’s games at the Olympics in China, the country most obsessed with table tennis, reinforce concerns that the sport needs a make-over to shed its fusty image.

Women players mostly wear baggy shorts and shirts unlike their tennis counterparts who dress for comfort as well as style.

“We are trying to push the players to use skirts and also nicer shirts, not the shirts that are made for men, but ones with more curves,” International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) vice president Claude Bergeret said.

table_tennis

One player, Japan’s Naomi Yotsumoto, has taken matters into her own hands. At the Japanese national championships last year, she played in a daring ensemble of her own design: knee socks, a pleated mini-skirt and a shirt that left one shoulder bare. (Editing by Nick Macfie) – Source