I am a child
yearning for Justice
I thank you for taking this time to listen to my voice, and to hear my deep cry.
I stand as the voice of all those children who have faced sexual abuse in their lives
I speak for the children whose lives are marred because of violence against our bodies; our spirit
My future stands blurred because the memory of violence follows like a shadow over my head.
I am the child who faced violence at the hands of one, who I trusted and loved,
Who stood before me as a strong ground, and as one on whom I very much depended on to teach what is right and wrong,
I could not cry out against him as he was my own father, one whom others also loved…
I did not know how to differentiate between what is acceptable and what cannot be pardoned.
The pain of the abuse that I experienced repeatedly in secret came to the fore one fine day
When my plea “please don’t hurt me there” was once again drowned in the loudness of my own cry…
I could bear it no longer and wondered if I would survive to share this horror story
Of a scarred body and spirit – only three and a half years old – to which you could add a decade to every year!
Listen friends; I speak to each one of you who stand here today: the choice that YOU have
To either address my pain and divide it … or multiply it by your stunning silence, passivity, and ignorance
Do you know there are thousands like me who want their beloved society to understand…
That the scales of justice would work better, if only it would listen to the truth of our experience?
If I have gathered courage to speak today against all forms of violence against children, especially sexual abuse
It is because I believe that human beings can change for the better and realize their utter common oneness.
If Christmas day is celebrated as the day when Jesus the Christ child was born into this world to bring peace
We, as children, need your help, partnership and support to usher in new ways of building a Just Community.
– Letter of a Child yearning for Justice
Written with the support of a large network of People’s / Women’s Movements including Vimochana, Praja Rajakiya Vedike (PRV), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Aneka, Bangalore Birth Network, FeministsIndia, Jana Vikasa, Jeeva, Karnataka Sex Workers Union (KSWU), Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum (KSMF), Samara, Secularism Is A Women’s Issue – international network, Siloam Girls Boarding Home, South Asia Citizens Web, Swaraj Network, Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI), UTC Women’s Studies Department, Women’s Initiative for Citizenship and Universal Rights and many others
ನನ್ನ ವ್ಯಾಕುಲ ಹಾಗೂ ದು:ಖವನ್ನು ಮತ್ತು ನನ್ನ ಆಪ್ತ ದನಿಯನ್ನು ಆಲಿಸಲು ನೀವು ಸಮಯ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಂಡಿರಿ, ನಾನು ಋಣಿ
ತಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಲೈಂಗಿಕ ದೌರ್ಜನ್ಯ ಅನುಭವಿಸಿದ ಆ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ಧ್ವನಿಯಾಗಿ ನಾನಿರುವೆ
ನಮ್ಮ ದೇಹಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ನಡೆದ ಹಿಂಸಾಚಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಬಲಿಯಾದ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಮಕ್ಕಳ ಪರವಾಗಿ ನಾನು ಮಾತನಾಡುವೆ
ಹಿಂಸಾಚಾರದ ಕಾರ್ಮೋಡ ನನ್ನ ತಲೆಯ ಮೇಲೆ ಕವಿದಿರುವಾಗ ನನ್ನ ಭವಿಷ್ಯ ಮಸುಕಾಗಿದೆ
ನಾನು ನಂಬಿದವರಿಂದ, ಪ್ರೀತಿಸಿದವರಿಂದ ಹಿಂಸಾಚಾರಕ್ಕೆ ಬಲಿಯಾದ ಮಗು ನಾನು
ಅವರು ನನ್ನ ಮುಂದೆ ಗಟ್ಟಿಯಾಗಿ ನಿಂತಿದ್ದರು; ನಾನು ಅವರನ್ನು ಬಲವಾಗಿ ಅವಲಂಬಿಸಿದ್ದೆ
ಆತ ನನ್ನ ತಂದೆ, ಆತನನ್ನು ಇತರರೂ ಪ್ರೀತಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು, ಆದರೆ ಆತನ ವಿರುದ್ಧವೇ ನಾನು ಕೂಗಬೇಕಿತ್ತು…..
ಯಾವುದನ್ನು ಒಪ್ಪಬೇಕು ಯಾವುದನ್ನು ಕ್ಷಮಿಸಲಾಗದು ಎಂಬುದರ ನಡುವೆ ವ್ಯತ್ಯಾಸ ನನಗೆ ತಿಳಿದಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ
ನಾನು ನಿರಂತರವಾಗಿ ರಹಸ್ಯವಾಗಿ ಅನುಭವಿಸಿದ ಹಿಂಸೆಯ ಯಾತನೆ ನಾನು ಒಂದು ದಿನ ಹೊರಹಾಕಲೇಬೇಕಾಯಿತು
‘ನನ್ನನ್ನು ಹಿಂಸಿಸಬೇಡ’ ಎಂಬ ನನ್ನ ಆರ್ತ ಕೂಗು ನನ್ನದೇ ಗಟ್ಟಿ ದನಿಯ ಅಳುವಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕರಗಿ ಹೋಯಿತು
ಆ ಹಿಂಸೆಯನ್ನು ಸಹಿಸುವುದು ನನ್ನಿಂದ ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗಲೇ ಇಲ್ಲ; ಆ ಭಯಾನಕ ಹಿಂಸೆಯ ಕತೆಯನ್ನು ಹೇಳಿ ಬದುಕಬಹುದೆ?
ನಾನೊಂದು ಮೂರೂವರೆ ವರ್ಷದ ಮಗು; ದೇಹ ಸುಟ್ಟಿತ್ತು; ಚೈತನ್ಯ ಉಡುಗಿತ್ತು.
ಸ್ನೇಹಿತರೆ ಕೇಳಿ; ಇಂದು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಂತಿರುವ ನಿಮ್ಮಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಬ್ಬರೊಂದಿಗೂ ನಾನು ಮಾತನಾಡಬಯಸಿರುವೆ
ನೀವು ನನ್ನ ನೋವನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಅದನ್ನು ಕಡಿಮೆ ಮಾಡಿ….. ಅಥವಾ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಗಾಢ ಮೌನದಿಂದ, ನಿಷ್ಕ್ರಿಯತೆಯಿಂದ ಮತ್ತು ಅಜ್ಞಾನದಿಂದ ಅದನ್ನು ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸಿ
ಈ ಸಮಾಜ ಅರ್ಥ ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಾದ ನನ್ನಂಥ ಸಾವಿರಾರು ಜನ ಇದ್ದೇವೆ
ನ್ಯಾಯದ ತಕ್ಕಡಿ ಸರಿಯಾದ ತೀರ್ಪು ನೀಡಬೇಕು; ಅನುಭವದ ಸತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಅದು ಕೇಳಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕು
ಮಕ್ಕಳ ಮೇಲಿನ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ರೀತಿಯ ಹಿಂಸೆಗಳ –ವಿಶೇಷವಾಗಿ ಲೈಂಗಿಕ ದೌರ್ಜನ್ಯಗಳ– ವಿರುದ್ಧ ಇಂದು ನಾನು ಮಾತನಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದರೆ
‘ಮನುಷ್ಯರು ಬದಲಾಗಬಲ್ಲರು; ತಮ್ಮಂತೆಯೇ ಇರುವ ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಜೀವಿಯ ದು:ಖವನ್ನು ಅರಿಯಬಲ್ಲರು’ ಎಂಬ ಭರವಸೆ ಇರುವುದರಿಂದ ಮಾತ್ರ
ಈ ಲೋಕಕ್ಕೆ ಶಾಂತಿಯನ್ನು ತರಲು ಯೇಸು ಈ ಭೂಮಿಗೆ ಬಂದ ಎಂಬ ಕಾರಣಕ್ಕೆ ಕ್ರಿಸ್ಮಸ್ ಹಬ್ಬ ಆಚರಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವಾಗ
ನಾವು, ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಮಕ್ಕಳು, ನಿಮ್ಮ ನೆರವನ್ನು, ಪಾಲುದಾರಿಕೆಯನ್ನು ಮತ್ತು ಬೆಂಬಲವನ್ನು ಬೇಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇವೆ
ನ್ಯಾಯ ಇರುವ ಸಮುದಾಯಗಳನ್ನು ನಿರ್ಮಿಸುವುದಕ್ಕಾಗಿ
– ನ್ಯಾಯಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಹಂಬಲಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವ ಮಗುವಿನ ಒಂದು ಪತ್ರ
This Christmas morning…
This morning, for about 30 minutes, Pascal Mazurier and his mother, Jackie Maille were at the gate of my apartment complex. They were accompanied by the Yelahanka police (about 5-6 police in uniform) who spoke to me, trying to convince me to ‘show my children to them’ while my neighbours’ children kept asking me, “Aunty, what happened?” I had to remind the police repeatedly that Pascal Mazurier was accused of rape. Then the police inspector of the Yelahanka police station called me. He kept saying that they were making a ‘request’ on ‘humanitarian grounds’ because it was a ‘festival’. I told him that what he considered a simple ‘request’ was a nightmare for me on Christmas morning and that it was certainly a favour that he was doing for Mr. Mazurier.
Did the police even stop to consider what it would mean for the mother of a daughter who has been raped to see the perpetrator at her door step?
Did the police not think even for a second that they were assisting an accused child rapist to meet the victim? Why are police indulging in illegal action?
Now that the police brought him to my apartment complex and he was comfortably seated at the security office with the security guards, how will they make sure that he does not return and attack my children or me?
What is more important on this festive day, Christmas? That an accused child rapist be assisted to meet the victim or that the little child be protected from further trauma by meeting the perpetrator and she be allowed to celebrate Christmas with peace and joy?
Is the role of the police to cause havoc in the lives of my children?
Are my children and me safe anymore?
– Suja Jones
Protection of Human Rights of Women. Need for guidelines in cases of Habeas Corpus proceedings affecting women
Bangalore, 6 July 2013: Praja Rajakiya Vedike organised a press meet to discuss the order passed by Hon’ble High Court of Kerala in the case of two women who wanted to live together and who were opposed to heterosexual marriage. One of the women, Saranya’s father had filed a writ petition seeking writ of Habeas Corpus alleging that his daughter Saranya is detained by Sruthi, whom he alleged had enticed to take his daughter away from Shornur, in Kerala. The petition was simple and devoid of any detail. Court had directed the police to keep the detenue (Saranya) present before the court on 30th July, 2013. It was widely reported in the Media. Sangama came to know of the same from the media news immediately made arrangements to enable Saranya to reach the Court on 30th July, 2013.
Saranya reached the court much in advance at 10 am. Her parents and her maternal uncle were present. She spoke to them for about 15 minutes. It was the first case of the day and immediately beginning of the session of court, the counsel for the father of Saranya informed the court that the parents are unable to speak to the detenue and the court ordered that the detenue should be with the family without interference from anyone. She was with the family for nearly 3 hours. She was visibly distraught when the court assembled after recess at 1.45pm.
The court verified the affidavit filed by Saranya detailing the fact that she was not a detenue and that the family was aware of her leaving the family and her decision to be at Bangalore. It is pertinent to note that Saranya has little knowledge of English. The counsel for Saranya had prepared the affidavit after discussing with her in Malayalam. The court enquired and Saranya stated that she is not aware of the contents of the affidavit. The court enquired the counsel and the counsel informed the court that immediate enquiry of the contents be made with her client in the open court. It was also suggested by the counsel that Saranya be enquired in private. Court did not agree to the same and opined that Saranya be sent to government shelter for some time and the matter be taken up after some days. Immediately the counsel appearing for the father of Saranya repeatedly stated that Saranya had stated to them that she wanted to go with her parents. Parents reiterated the same the court inquired Saranya and she nodded her head. Immediately the court stated that she is free to return home with her parents. A detailed order came to be passed. It was stated by Saranya that she had left home on her own volition to Bangalore. The police were directed to provide protection to the family for their safe return to her home and also directed the police to provide protection as and when required.
The question that arises, whether Saranya, who had voluntarily moved away from her natal home to be with her friend Sruthi and to lead independent life was a detenue? Whether a petition filed by father of Saranya who wanted his ‘parental control’ and ‘custody’ of his adult daughter be considered a petition for Habeas Corpus petition, given the kind prayer. When the detenue moved away from her natal home being opposed to them, was it proper to direct her to be with the family for 3 hours without any supervision. Was the court aware of the kind emotional pressure that Saranya may be subjected to? Why did not court make a detailed enquiry with the ‘detenue’ Saranya in an atmosphere that was stress free? It was visible to everyone in the court that she was emotionally distraught. Even when she was near the Bench her father was holding her hand it was only when court official asked him to leave her did he leave her and stood few yards from her. Did she disown the affidavit because of the emotional distress? When the counsel appearing for Saranya on being questioned about the affidavit, she had sought court to enquire the Saranya of the content of the affidavit. On enquiring the Saranya court could have concluded whether she had stated as per the affidavit. If her answer were to be true to the contents, the court’s decision could have been different. Somewhere we feel that the process to which Saranya was subjected to was not conducive to make free, informed choice. It is evident that she had moved out of her family on her own volition. Why no equiry was made as to why she moved away from her family?
A packed court hall, full of media glare, in the presence of her family that had emotionally blackmailed her, what could be seen was Saranya’s monosyllabic replies to the queries. Was she free while making such statements?
Saranya has the right to move away from her family with her friend, her right to move away from her family or resolve to live with her friend or to return to her family. What matters most was, in all the situations was her choice really a free choice? Today Sruthi is shocked, emotionally disturbed and threatened of her own existence. Who is responsible if Saranya is forced into a heterosexual marriage or if she were to harm herself or she is put in danger. Given the kind of patriarchal attitude to compel women into marriage, was it safe to send her to her family? Certainly number of questions arise and hence the need for a look into such cases.
Though the first petition did not have the required details. The court had directed the petitioner to file additional affidavit. The additional affidavit contained the details wherein the organisation Sangama was said to be a dangerous organisation and that Saranya was in distress. Sangama was not made a party to the proceedings. Nor Saranya or Sruthi were supplied with the copies of the petition to ask for their response.
It is common that whenever a woman moves away from the family, the family feels that their respect is affected, be it bar girls, married women, unmarried women, they seek assistance of police and lodge complaint of kidnapping or file a habeas corpus petition. A most precious writ to set people free from bondage is used to ‘get her back’ to the family. Women who are already in distress and who have not experienced court or proceedings are threatened with the consequences of the litigation and threats of harm either to her life or that family would harm themselves as they have been shamed would result in the woman being compelled to take decision certainly not to her liking but under compulsion. Such situations take away all the rights that are guaranteed to women in law. She is always considered as chattel, a person who is to be under the parental control before marriage and under control of husband after her marriage.
Praja Rajakiya Vedike feels that there is requirement for a set of guidelines in Habeas Corpus proceedings relating to women giving her the required space, conducive atmosphere, enabling conditions, assistance of counselor and other facilities so that she makes an independent decision of her person. Shakun Mohini, Women’s Rights Activist from Vimochana shared “What is the right to choice, any choice in their life in women. We say progress, women are coming out for work but women have no right to choice where they live what they wear, who they live with, what they will choose to study, where they will move, they have no right to choice and that is what need to be questioned. It is very sad that a Judge who has to decide the free will of the girl when she is an adult.”
“Habeas Corpus remedy is used to protect the rights of individual freedom, but in this situation families are using against the freedom of a person and denying the right to freedom. There is a need for a debate on this” Mr. Aravind Narayan from Alternative Law Forum and Mr. B T Venkatesh from ReachLaw expressed in the press meet.
Addressing the media Elavarthi Manohar, Joint Secretary; Praja Rajakiya Vedhike shared that “Why was Sangama not questioned in the court proceedings? In the writ petition only Sruthi was made a respondent why not Sangama? Sangama not being a respondent in this writ petition leads to a series of doubts. In this particular matter the High Court of Kerala did not provide a space for Saranya to express her views independently. This is the right guaranteed by the constitution of India”. He added that “What rights are there for women and what not and what role will Judiciary play. There should be a larger debate on this. This issue is not only about lesbians but also about all women from all sections. We are exploring in what ways we can challenge this judgment and how to take forward this process”
Sruthi and Saranya had given several media interviews, attended press conferences in Bangalore, expressed their love to each other, affectionate relationship and about leading a life together. The kind of emotional blackmail exerted on Saranya by her parents through the High Court made her wilt under pressure.
It was felt that High Court of Kerala ought to have created a conducive environment, atmosphere, privacy and time to reflect away from public glare for Saranya to take an independent decision which is the right of every adult women guaranteed by the constitution.
No one has right over any adult women. No one can claim her custody, be it the father, husband or the son. All institutions should enable and respect the decisional autonomy of an adult woman. All such processes that do not create such an atmosphere would commit gross violation of the right of women guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
It was strongly felt that the issue of women rights in Habeas Corpus proceedings required larger debate in public and there was a urgent need for set of guidelines in such proceedings.
For more details: Elavarthi Manohar, Joint Secretary, Praja Rajakiya Vedike 9483950202, 9632223460