International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Given the current situation, suddenly there is seems to an increase in public lynching, police versus the commoner situation. So maybe today is the right day to see where we are on this one.

In 1997 UN launched the international day in support of torture victims this is a result of the UN convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. This convention is binding according to international law

Torture could be infliction of physical or mental pain through violence, fear or massive humiliation. The UN also includes governmental torture like police or interrogative procedures to extract confessions, but pain or suffering caused by legal penalty is not considered torture.

In India the use of torture is quite widespread and predominant it is quite unchallenged and unopposed that it has sadly become normal and legitimate practise in investigating crimes or extracting confessions. Women face custodial rape, molestation and other form of sexual harassment, this is not just inflicted on accused but legitimate petitioners, complainants or informants are also subjected to inhuman degrading treatment that violates human dignity.

The constitution of India provides for life , dignity and honour in the chapter of fundamental rights, that makes it the primary obligation of the judiciary to ensure that its dignity is maintains. Article 5 of UDHR 1948 specifically proclaims, “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.  Article 7 of ICCPR (International covenant on civil and political rights) adds an addendum that no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experiment.  The Human Rights Commission has been delegated the responsibility of implementation of the above decree under the Article 40v-4 of ICCPR, the purpose of this article is to maintain human dignity, it is applicable even in situations of public emergency.

The Human rights committee includes corporal punishment at educational institutes and patients in medical institutions.

The Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment,(CAT) adopted on Dec.10th 1984 aims to prevent and prohibits acts of torture  in the

Article 1     it defines torture.

Article 2     says torture cannot be justified even during war or public emergency

Article 3     forbids states parties to expel or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he could be in danger of being tortured. It also allows the extradition of people accused on torture.

The implementation of this is monitored by a Committee Against Torture which consists of 10 experts elected by the state parties to the convention and they serve in their personal capacity.

India has signed the convention against torture but not ratified it, India has expressed concern over Art.20 and Art.22 of the convention.

Victims of torture tend to feel a lot of rage and focus on revenge and very defensive.  Torture survivors tend to get angry at the slightest provocation resulting in people staying away from them, social isolation and loneliness has tremendous impact on the person’s physical and mental health. Anxiety disorder triggered by recurring nightmares and flashbacks could happen. Sounds and sights associated with the torture could trigger the anxiety episode. Post torture anxiety victims tend to avoid social situation where they fear being judged, embarrassed or humiliated. Depression is wide spread in torture survivors and could experience recurring thoughts of death and suicide.  There are victims who go to great lengths to avoid thoughts, conversations, activities and places that could trigger a recollection of the trauma, leading to social withdrawal and isolation this is Emotional Numbing And Avoidance. Some torture survivors are suffer from hyper arousal, this is a condition where they are very vigilant and alert and are easily startled, this is a constant state and does not need a trigger. This in turn makes them stressed and angry many times they are not able to handle day to day activities. They tend to have outburst of angers. About 51% of the people suffering from post torture tend to exhibit sexual dysfunction particularly if they have suffered sexual torture or rape.  This at times is linked to depression or PTSD this in turn could affect the person’s confidence and the way he or she interacts socially.

The psychological effect varies with each individual so it becomes necessary to plan the treatment also case by case.


Sharing a Story

sexual harassment
image courtesy google.


Sharing my story… through a breakthrough campaign.

Sexual harassment occurs every day, I have experienced it, and yes it is time to change it.

The conversation needs to begin at home. So women’s web decides that it might be a good idea for us to write to our sons.

I have no sons and before I share what I have to say to my nephews I need to really take stock of what is that I want to say.

What shall I share with you the story of old Paddu-doddamma who would be ninety if she was alive today, how the jeweller who came to make her wedding jewellery got her pregnant? Poor woman’s marriage got broken, and her father disowned her she then went to the Udupi temple and lived there. She lost her child too; though how and why do not know.

Shall I tell you about Kalyanamma, who lost her husband at the age of 19, and her she had stabbed her husband’s brother because he tried to force himself on her? The sad part of the story was the family was willing to forgive her brother-in-law, but not her for having a relationship with their estate manager who was 23yrs old when she was 20. I do not know the truth of their relationship to the date nor do I care, for me Kalyanchikki was an elegant kind lady.

Maybe I should tell you about Kamala who worked in Padmannuru house, she was thirteen when she came as the maid to the house and the lady of the house was ailing, then one day the inevitable happened the man of the house forced her to his bed, her redemption came when the Lady died and the man of the house married her. why did she stay do you ask, because when she told her parents about her overtures her parents turned round and asked her what did you do to entice him, we are poor and we need the money so behave yourself stay out of his way and do not blacken an respectable man’s name.

There was Mrs.Batliwallah a senior IAS officer her boss was willing to sanction 4 Cr. For her project if she slept with him.

My own story Dr.Bongade..(yes I finally found the courage to name him) who failed me for a term in final year dentistry because I refused to date him, this despite me being a senior faculty member’s daughter.

Then there were Parveen and Fatima two kids who were 5 and 6 year old, it was just curiosity that lead them to explore each other, neither of them was sexually aware they were just curious, but an adult who saw them got them home, the shame and the guilt came in only after the adult interpretation of clinical act occurred. But the scar was so much that one of them has become a nun and other has relationship issues.

The child who was abused… by another she did not attach any meaning to it. she had actually enjoyed the entire caressing and the act, it was only when she was older that she realized that it was sexual and then the guilt rushed in, the guilt that she must have done something to invite it, the guilt of enjoying it, and still worse the guilt of caressing herself when it stopped.

Its not just this gory story, things happen without reaching this level of nastiness. There was this boy when I was at school who would write love letters to me, one of the teachers, Malathi… finally I pick the courage to name her, she called your Ajji up and I still remember standing in the principal’s office and being questioned. It was like a inquisition, I was clueless about who wrote the letter, yet Malathi teacher, principle Kukillaya and Ajji made it like I was responsible for them.  everything from being an extrovert… yes I smiled and wished everyone that I knew, to my wearing short skirt I had shot up 6 inches in height were cited as the cause of inviting those letters.

I was in standard six then, with vengeance I did everything I could do to erase my femininity. If you thought this stalking end with age, I am still experiencing this at the age of 50!! So do some of my contemporaries. Which is why a movie like Rowdy Rathore or R..Rajkumar upsets me, you have a protagonist who stalks a heroine and finally wins her. god knows how girls would have to face what I did, yes mothers are no more called to principles office at least in the socio-economic structure we are in, but MMS and Youtube clippings can hurt.

I am not sharing this with you to belittle the pain that you my nephew had to undergo when that woman next door did what she did to you.

I share this with you, because I want you to have a healthy life. You are a nice, good-looking talented young man, I am extremely proud of you. I know that you are mature enough to chose your partner and accept that your partner has the right to do the same.

I hope when your relationship becomes something more strong and you decide to have a family, you will be balanced enough to draw the fine line between being protective, and being over protective.

The best possible thing for you to do is keep conversations open and happening that is without taboo topics. Teach your child to handle situation. Don’t for god sake try to feed in good touch and bad touch, because the child knows the good from the bad, you knew it, our failure, was in not listening to you, like my mother’s was in not listening to me.

citizen journalist
image courtesy internet

Ps: the letter is addressed to my nephew because that was the request, but this letter as much to my daughters, and nieces for sexual harassment is not a gender issue but a social issue and society consists of male and female.


Think like a girl….

image courtesy google.
image courtesy google.

“I’m blogging for the India Today Woman Summit 2015 #WomenPower activity at BlogAdda.”

The prompt began with the oft repeated quote it’s impossible to guess what a woman wants. Then there was reference to gender equality.  Yes we seem to be very confused on the stand a much needed discussion, do woman want to be treated specially or equally? Do men know the difference? This is the precise kind of thing that would raise my hackles. More so when India today is hosting an entire summit on this

Do men know the difference, is  an irrelevant question. For the more pertinent question would be do women know the difference do we as a gender really know what we want. Can I as one woman talk for my entire gender which faces different challenges at different zones.   It is not about men treating women, but it also about women treating women. This might be kind of complex like PGWodehouse saying peoples people want people to marry people’s people that that people don’t like.  It starts from creating the want.

Somewhere this journey has begun, from the free unfettered human being we have been relegated to boundaries of organized society. Well this  applies to men as well, which we shall address when India Today holds a confused men’s summit.

Lets start at the very beginning , … kind of good place to start at.

I have walked this earth for 50yrs, I am from the south, particularly from the west coast where we are matriarchal and matrilineal.  Our scenario is very clear,

We have a voice. If a woman does not have a voice it is not the social structure but it is situation specific.She is a victim of low self esteem. We are all educated, by the the society evolved from the 50’s to 60’s the trend of celebrating the son’s birthday as a public event and daughters as a family affair had already morphed to a child’s birthday is a social event.

Most of us were educated in the fields that we wanted to. If we did not get a choice neither did our brothers. Most of us chose the men we wanted to marry. Traditionally we had the rights to perform the final rites of our parents but somewhere patriarchy took  over but it was a minor issue. And to me this entire gender thing was over done.

But last year the BBA students came up with a play where they spoke of  serials like Band Baja Bharat, and various Karan Johar movies creating a trend of  Mehendi-Sangeet-Kanyadaan—Bidai the group that performed this, were mostly from the Shetty community, and Kerala, the children brought out a very important point that these were societies that had no kanyadaan. But now it has become part so the girl child from having dignity and identity has willingly accepted becoming a commodity. The social evolution of this can be discussed if  I can get the time and platform  being right we could discuss.

This year the students have a new issue. Group 1, is a set of Goan kids, this is a real event. Goa was a very safe place for girls. Stalking was unheard of until Konkan railway came with its immigrants and tourists, not to mention the great Hindi flicks.  Yet for the past month one of the girls is being stalked. She eventually accosted her stalker, he accused her of getting henchmen to beat him up. She did verbally over haul him, what irks is when she went to the police station the cops refused to accept a complaint without a male relative being present, “if you can’t get your father or brother, at least get your mother.” – the students are putting up a street play on this.

The other issue which the kids are dealing with is, at home, where the daughters are expected to do the house work, while the sons are not, the justification the mother gives is ,”Shaadi ke baad tere ko to hi karna hai, woh kyon karega uske biwi karegi” the girls look at this as conditioning, and presumption that the daughter-in-law would function on this lines.—the kids have created a lovely modern play on this.

Another issue that the students had brought up was sexual abuse at home, this girl child was abused by her brother, when she complained to her mother her mother’s response was ,”tu ne hi kuch kiya hoga.”

The last case I am sharing, is about Vandana who is around my age, she did her engineering in IIT, married an NRI, once she went to states her mother-in-law  insisted that she stays at home, and mind you it is not about becoming a homemaker, it is about being a house keeper because the lady of the house is still the mother-in-law.  The general attitude is why should she work husband earns enough.

I am sharing these cases hoping that something will trigger somewhere. When I did ask all these women what is that they wanted, did men understand it… this is what they had to say,

What they are looking for is a change in the conditioning of the girl child’s mind from birth. The compartmentalizing of genders. They looking for having a choice to live the kind of life they would like to live, they are looking for physical safety, and dignity. When we say society we mean the  male and the female. Incidentally it is not about the men understanding it is about how women see themselves.

Children learn about themselves the way they are treated by their mothers, their attitudes towards themselves is learnt from the mother or the primary care giver, while the way they engage with the outside is what they learn from the behaviour of the primary care giver towards the secondary care giver.

So where do we go from here? to me this clipping kind of sums it all up.

The Social Media The Connect and The Challenge

courtsey internet
courtsey internet

My association with the social media began when I was in isolation during my treatment, my only contact with the outside world was Facebook, and it kept me constant contact with my family.

Even before we look at mobile vs. web, my generation approaching 50 would have more fundamental question that really understands what the social media is all about no doubt it is defined as a form of electronic communication that allowed users to create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content.

Let’s look at social media, I mean Media is an instrument on communication, like newspapers, radio, or whatever, if so, and then social media becomes social instrument of communication. In my younger days we called it gossip.

Jokes apart from where I stand, with reference to web world it would mean something that not only gives information, but interacts with you while giving that information. This could be as simple as asking you for your comments or letting you vote on an article, it could as complex as sending you idiotic recommendations, based on ratings from people of similar interests.

Somewhere along the line the social media is more democratic because it is a two way street and allows you to communicate too.

For long time, the use of Media, interchangeably with news lead me to be thoroughly confused, with social media business. But then I figured it’s not the same thing. You see while social media is a large collage , social news (different from gossip) is part of the great umbrella. But so are wiki’s and social networking.

Then there are these different pieces, that add to the collage—like social bookmarking, that tags and searches through websites bookmarked by others is one these. Then the social networking like Facebook, Hi5 where we interact by adding friends, commenting on profiles, joining social groups and having discussions. Photo and video sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. Wiki’s that interact by adding articles.

In my personal space Web has brought me a sense of acceptance, it connected me to wonderful people round the world. Even in the extended social circle where I was an embarrassing associate I find acceptance… (One reason why Shraddha Sharma of struck a chord   I buy  look books that my fellow book worms who I have never met, recommend. I try on the shoulder of friend and fellow blogger again I have never met, I find people who are on the same wavelength as me. I regularly use Flickr, meet-up, Facebook, Linkedin, twitter, 123 greetings. I do online counselling.

But mobiles I am still challenged with slowly I am learning the handling of the mobile. I realize that web screens don’t get distorted, when they are viewed on the smart phones or androids, because the web screens are interactive. When I choose a template I can actually check it out on my phone and see how it looks.

When it comes to my writing, The writing has to be crispier as the mobile or android reading is more stressful and the reader tends to get distracted.

Right now I am working at mobile literacy. That is how does my mobile work, what apps do I really need, and what can throw out. What is 3G how does that work? In my space.  What is the internet pack how do I use it. Finally I do I go to my docs, modify and upload it.

Social media has made me more connected, and Mobile social media which is the immediate future has added that tiny wonderment, thrill of discovery. At the end of the day, it media, it is how we use it that matters.

“I am participating in the #SMWBangalore activity at BlogAdda in association with Social Media Week Bangalore“

Obligations to others and to ourselves.

obligationBil “Obligation is a more effective weapon against the Will than any penalty, threat or act of force.” 

― Ashim Shanker, Sinew of the Social Speciesl Courtney, Against the Grain: A Coach’s Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love

Sunita is one of the early people who has been coming to me for treatment. One major issue she was dealing with was, her role as mother, wife, her husband’s business partner and to herself.  What appeared to me was she scheduled so much in her life that she was draining her energy meeting her obligations.

We all have obligations, in various aspects of our lives, it could be being part of the community, family, and many a times I have found it fun too. There are times when all this gets too much—though I have not really been there, and we just resist these obligations. Particularly if they all turn up at the same time.

At the same time saying no, might be an option we do not want to consider, whatever the reason maybe we do not want to hurt the other person, or we do not want to loose out on an opportunity. We land up doing things at a cost to ourselves.

There was this time, when i would be cluttered with things to do all one weekend, then nothing at all another, the same went for my writing. Thats when I realized being aware of my schedule and weighing the repercussion of not going to an event and eventually choosing one that blended with soul-goal was important. But more important was reaching out to the person maybe with a card or phone call to let them know that you are there with them in spirit and your absence is not because you don’t care goes a long way.

There are times, when we promise something, commit ourselves to something, that is a promise, a debt that is unpaid.  When we make a deal, we stick to it. Rock-hard rule. We don’t renege, we don’t sell out. We hold up our end and expect the other person to the do the same. If the other person can’t we are entitled to deal with everyman of it as we see fit in order to set things right. Actually we are more than entitled, we are obliged, else the rule would mean nothing.

It might be easier to set a limit for ourselves, but when we do so we never reach our true potential and we have an obligation to live up our potential.

Meeting our obligations to others is an important part of being human and not one to take lightly. At the same time, we cannot meet every obligation without neglecting our primary duty to take care of ourselves. We can navigate this quandary by being conscious of what we choose to do and not do and by finding concrete ways to extend our caring when we are not able to be there in person. , Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women


dhimaag ki ghanti bhajao.

indiblogger 1Ringing the bell to prevent crime against women, is just not enough, it starts with a very deep disturbance in the cultural ethos.

We are in an environment where woman has become an object of possession to bartered, or battered. This is of course a contention of domestic violence. But there is something more,

Look at the movies, the serials, the advertisement they all show, an abusive male,

Women seeking approval from peers,

Women hooking the most coveted boyfriend after using the product,

We have made woman the trophy.

With the shift to personality culture, grab the eyeball is the key. Get the attention no matter what. We are into group thinks,

Advertisements work like peer opinion guidelines, particularly for the teenagers and preteens, if you do notice most advertisement are targeted to the, giving them lifestyle ideals, lesbianism, cougar traits etc.

In a research conducted, a group of individuals were given a problem. 95%provided the right answers. Next actors were planted and they gave the wrong answers loudly and clearly and confidently after which the rate of right answers dropped by 25%.

This about peer pressure, this changes the view of the problem the mind does not consciously think well, the answer may be A but since majority of the people go with A so shall I , nor does it go like I want the group to like me, what happens is people go along with the group because they thought hey had arrived at the same correct answer serendipitously.

The peer  opinion here is created very subtly by a group of advertisers, who are looking at a shock value, or those script writers who writing railway romances themselves.

Shutting of the TV or PIL’s are giving them unnecessary importance, one way to tackle this is viewer censorship. That is the viewers lodge a complaint with

the baksheesh given by a king to his favourite dancing girl, has now turned to audience gifting cash to school performers spontaneously, i am talking not of academics but of stage performers, and sports performers,

the raining of money at dance competitions at favourite contestants, these create an unhealthy environment, where the individual becomes an object.

citizen journalistHow and when we are going to tackle this I do not know but unless we do, particularly with the advertisement and violence in movies, these trends are only going to increase.

If you notice I am rewriting the same material, hoping that someone will sit up and take notice. With all that hype about Jiah Khan no one hauls the doctor who treated her for the first abuse  for not reporting, it is assault.