A Question of Choice?


I don’t understand

That man hurt me

Mum, why is my belly growing?

Mummy, there’s something inside of me!

But moooom, I can’t be a mother

I’m your baby

I’m still a child

What do you mean, Mumma, that they don’t care?

Why do you say it’s not my life?

How was it never my choice?

He chose to do this Mama

But I didn’t ask for this?

Oh, I did?

Alright, I guess I won’t go out of the house wearing a skirt again.



Hi baby, shush, this world isn’t meant for you but I’ll do my best to keep you safe. My mother couldn’t, and it broke her. Her own shadow haunts her. But you, my love, shall be safe. I’ll dress you like a boy.


Halloween, Guy Fawkes and Monsters

The Fifth of November

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

A happy Guy Fawkes’ Day to all our friends over in the United Kingdom. Enjoy the fireworks, blokes, lads and ladies! But stay safe too.

Are any of you still suffering from a Halloween induced sugar high? I know I am! And that’s despite the fact that Halloween isn’t traditionally celebrated here in India except for a few themed parties here and there. But your girl couldn’t leave an excuse to hog on some candy now, could she? (okay, maybe it was more than some but, hey, who’s counting?)

I’m a firm believer of the saying that there ain’t no Halloween without a bit of Stephen King. So I spent the long weekend curled up with his latest gift to the literary world, Gwendy’s Button Box. And no, I didn’t watch IT, or any other horror movie for that matter. I’m a big time scaredy cat with an over active imagination. Really, think Amelia Jane’s level of a runaway imagination (for those of you who grew up on a healthy dose of Enid Blyton). If I watch a horror flick, I end up with endless, sleepless nights riddled with nightmares. Answering nature’s calls in the middle of the night become a tricky affair too. I scare myself into thinking what if I look at a mirror and see a hand closing in behind me, or if I don’t look like myself? Shivers

Books, however, are a different matter altogether. The creation of a spooky atmosphere by spinning words is an awe inspiring art of which I’m a big fan.

Yet, howsoever much I tried to protect my sensitive and reactive mind from horrifying visuals, I did end up being scared out of my wits. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a movie, book or a scary costume. It was the real world and the monsters that reside amongst us.

I was at a complete loss for words when I opened the newspaper and read that a 100 year old woman was raped in a town not too far from where I live. A 100 YEAR OLD LADY. One too feeble to even raise an arm in protest. One too weak to cry out in alarm. One so ill and bedridden that she could not survive the agony inflicted on her and passed away even before she could be taken to the hospital.

Are you suitably horrified yet? Do I need to remind you of an earlier post in which I’d discussed a court case where a 7 month old baby had been sexually abused?

What world are we living in, really? Where has it been ordained that it’s okay to violate another person so brutally and sickeningly? When did we stop respecting people as human beings? As having a life?

Halloween itself stemmed from the belief that when summer ended and the darker half of the year began, the lines between this world and the spirit realm blurred and spirits, both evil and good, roamed the earth freely on this day. People dressed up in terrifying costumes so as to mingle with the monsters so that they could not be distinguished as humans and harmed. We literally, made ourselves look like monsters.

Today, I believe we need to do more in order to stand out from the vile, evil and disgusting people we live among. Differentiate ourselves. Make it known that we abhor being coupled with them as one. We detest what they do and it shall be condoned no more. Let’s bring up our children to be good people first, rather than just successful.

I know, naysayers would say our efforts would be like a drop in the ocean, meaningless and futile. To them, I’d like to point to a saying we have in India boond boond se Sagar Banta hai. Roughly translated, it means that an ocean is formed drop by drop. Every single one of it is material.

So this Halloween, let’s vow to slay the monsters within us and around us. Let it be a day of fun and frolicking and let real life monsters become a myth. Are you with me? We owe it to ourselved and the world to give it our best shot, after all!

Little Fingers, Tiny Toes (#2)

Recently, I came across a Tweet that unsettled me. I live in a country where child marriage had been the norm for centuries. Even after its abolishment, the practice is still carried out in a lot of cities. Hence, the enforcement of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, came as quite a welcome relief. However, its effect has been significantly curtailed by a major legislative blunder that could very easily have been foreseen. This is what that tweet had pointed out. This is what I am going to be addressing today. Why? Because can anyone actually even begin to question why children need to be protected from any harm at all costs?

I will try to explain the situation in the simplest possible terms, however, being a lawyer I might get slightly technical at places. Please bear with me, I assure you it will all make sense if you continue reading. I actually implore you to read because the importance of this topic of discussion cannot possibly be overstated.

So, here it goes –

This Act was passed in 2012. To make access to legal recourse possible to all victims, this particular legislation has been kept free from the shackles of the Statute of Limitation. A limitation, for lack of a better illustration, is like a warranty period of sorts. If you are aggrieved by a particular action of another, you are required to file a complaint about it within the prescribed time for doing so, i.e., within the limitation period. Beyond this time period, the doors of legal recourse will be forever shut for you with regard to that particular action.

Now, do not fret. I assure you such a limitation makes sense at most times in order to prevent malicious and frivolous complaints from being filed. Thus, in cases of extreme gravity, like the one under discussion today, such prescription is done away. This means that a victim of childhood sexual abuse can file a complaint about the offence at any given point of time in his life and he shall not be denied access to justice. Makes sense, right? After all, the very nature of the offence is such that immediate filing of complaint about it is very near impossible since the victims are small children who might not even know what they were being subjected to.

Here’s the catch!

Our esteemed legislators, yes, the very members who we’ve chosen and elected to be our representatives, forgot to provide a retrospective effect to the Act. This means, for any sexual offence perpetrated against a child before the passing of the Act, i.e., before 2012, no complaint can be filed under the provisions for this Act.

So, if any one has suffered childhood sexual abuse for a period as early as just about 5 years ago, our legislation has only one thing to say – tough luck, kid!

Considering the backdrop of such offences, this lack in legislative foresight becomes even graver. It cannot be forgotten that majority of sexual abuse against children are perpetrated by relatives or close friends of the family. They are, essentially, the people that a child trusts implicitly without any question. Hence, the child would not realize what was happening or even why. He or she might get accustomed to it and think that it was something normal since they do not know better. Or, even worse, he or she might understand what was happening, but may not be able to speak out to, say his mom, about why his Uncle visits his bed at night. Now consider this situation in light of the fact that children are acutely aware that anything they say to an adult will never be taken seriously. Hence, they will not speak out.

It might take years before a child realizes, understands and gathers the courage to disclose what was done to him. How can we, in good conscience, or in any sort of conscience, tell these victims that despite everything, they will still not get justice? That maybe if they’d been born later and had this done to them later, they would have had a chance?

At what level is any of this right?

I thought about this a lot. And I thought hard. Then I saw a small sliver of hope. I remembered that the Indian Penal Code, at least for the purposes of all offences defined therein, considers a female of any age to fall under the definition of ‘woman’. So we can at least still get justice for a girl child? Well, I thought wrong.

The definition of Rape got its present, expanded and inclusive definition by way of amendments made in 2013, in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya Gang Rape, an incident that shook the entire nation. But hey! Guess what? Yes! They forgot to grant a retrospective effect in this case too.

So, if you’ve been raped in a way that is currently defined as rape (and always should have been, because let’s face it, how difficult is it to understand?) before 2013, then ladies and little girls, I am very sorry to say our country’s legislation has failed you.

If you are an adult, looking back at a dark crime in your childhood, I am so extremely sorry. The Legislators have washed their hands off of your pain and trouble. They shalt not Meddle with it at all, it’s only your problem, as far as they’re concerned.

The crux of the matter is, if these complaints could have been filed and reached the Courts, they would have faced the question of “why the delay?” which may or may not have been explained satisfactorily by the victim. However, as the legal situation stands today, they will not even be allowed to be registered as a complaint in the first place.

Absurd? Yes.

End of story? I wish.

This was the legislation and the legislators. Let me now tell you about the judiciary.

I still remember how, in five years of law school, there was this one lecture in criminal law that sent my crying back to the hostel. Our Professor had discussed a case wherein a man had sexually abused a child. A man. Sexually abused. A child. A SEVEN AND A HALF MONTHS OLD CHILD. He would have succeeded in actually raping her if the child’s mother had not entered the room at the end moment. A case for outraging the modesty of a woman was brought against him.

As per the law, this offence is defined as the use of criminal force to a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty. While the first two parts of this definition were a matter of record and not disputable, the High Court decided to interpret what outraging the modesty of a woman would mean.

Two out of three judges forgot all about the “intention” part and. Let me tell you, the main thing that actually differentiates a criminal act from a non-criminal act is “intention” known as mens rea, which can be translated to mean ‘a guilty mind’. Yet, the two judges very conveniently forgot about the intention of a man that forced himself on a child. They propounded that “modesty is writ large on a woman’s body”. Hence, they reasoned that a woman’s modesty can be outraged only when she felt it being outraged. Her reaction is what would make the offence and not the action or intention of the perpetrator. So, since the child was of too tender an age and was physically incapable of understanding that her modesty was being outraged, ergo, it wasn’t outraged. Here, I would like to tell you that that man managed to rupture they child’s hymen and inflicted a gash 3/4th of an inch long in her vagina.

Yet, the judges did not find the offence to be made out. In doing so, the judges, effectively, clubbed all female children, mentally disabled women, intoxicated or inebriated woman and even drugged women into a category where their modesty could not be outraged because they would not be able to feel it happening or understand it to be happening to them.

Are you sufficiently outraged by now?

I know I have been since that day. I am even more now.

Thankfully, the Hon’ble Supreme Court overruled this highly erroneous decision. Yet, there may have been thousands of similar cases that may not have reached the Supreme Court.

So, this is the face of the legislation and the judiciary when it comes to the question of justice for our children and for our women. I could quote many more cases, but that list would be endless. Yes, in some cases, justice indeed has prevailed, but they form only a minuscule fraction.

So today, I implore you to take care of children. All children around you. I know parents need not be told this, yet there’s always something more that you can do to protect your children.

Imagine the plight of that mother who walked into her child’s room to find a man committing such a heinous act. Imagine what she must have gone through. Imagine the pain of that little, little, child. Imagine how she must have grown up in this society which might forget a criminal but will never let a victim forget what happened to her. She would have been labelled as impure, broken, damaged and shunned for something she did not even remember. They would never let her forget. They would never let her live. The would, in all probability, shun her.

So, yes, I implore you to protect your children better. Keep a keener lookout for any sudden behavioural changes in your child. When giving them a bath, tell them how to clean themselves, refuse to touch their private parts, gently remind them everyday that no one except for them are supposed to touch them there. Make your children better prepared to identify what’s the right kind of touch and what isn’t.

Just, protect them, will you?

I apologize for the long rant today, but I hope you would agree with me that this had to be done.

To read my previous post against child labour, read Little Fingers, Tiny Toes.

It takes a village

Privacy – Its no secret. Its just none of your business.

India, a place where the patriarchy, and more often than not, the entire society, blatantly comes out to judge a woman by the clothes she wears. “Exposing” skin is considered a direct manifestation of the Western thought. Believe me, following the west is the worst thing you can do here bar none.

So much so, society has even stooped to the level of justifying rape and eve-teasing by proclaiming that the victim was asking for it because she was revealing skin, i.e., she was wearing short skirts or, briefly stated, modern clothes. Trust me, no one is ever asking for it.

There is even a hashtag doing the rounds on twitter called #NotAllMen, I kid you not. This is a supposed feminist stand taken by the male gender in the country, proudly declaring themselves as beacons of morality since they are not indulging in the rape culture. Hence, not all men.

Simply put, the problem of rape in India can be easily redressed. As can be surmised by the prevalent circumstances highlighted above, not all men rape and a women is basically asking for it by wearing provocative clothes. This brings us to the obvious solution. Women, cover yourself.

If you show a patch of skin, you are readily giving up your privacy. You are declaring your consent redundant. You are inviting rape.

One can then posit why girls cannot mind such a teeny tiny thing.  Why are they still brazen enough to step out of door attired in such a manner. Why can they not take a Simple measure to protect themselves. Its just so baffling!

Its because even burqa clad women are being raped. Six month old infants are being raped. 70 year old grandmothers are being raped. So you see, the clothes don’t matter. Nothing matters..and herein lies the crux of the situation.

We, the women of India, are living in a society where a woman was shot dead in a bar because she dared to refuse to serve alcohol to a man after hours. SHOT DEAD. This man’s official defense in Court was that he was provoked. His defense was that he has been brought up in a male dominated society where men have a superior status and a woman’s refusal is a direct hit to his manhood. He has not been conditioned to bear such an atrocity. Poor man. Of course he had to shoot the woman. How dare she refuse a man!

Do you think in light of all this, a woman’s privacy matters? her consent matters? And no, there is no such thing as non-consensual sex.

It takes a village to raise a child. There is something very wrong with the psyche of a society that moulds a child into a monster. The sooner we realize this, the sooner can we treat this pandemic. Do not tell me she was asking for it, do not tell me not all men rape, do not tell me she is characterless. Do not preach morality by donning a holier than thou mantle. Get your hands dirty to clean up the muck. Tell me that what lies beneath a woman’s clothing is not a secret, its just none of your business.