After Delhi Rape, Justice Verma Committee Recognised Systematic Sexual Violence By The Army

Kavita Krishnan

Justice Verma Committee Recognised Systematic Sexual Violence By Army Against Women In Kashmir, NE, Chhattisgarh, Other Conflict Zones

It’s atrocious that a case has been filed against JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and Professor Nivedita Menon accusing them of making anti national comments on the Indian Army. In Kanhaiya’s specific case it is claimed that by saying there are instances of rapes of Kashmiri women by the Army, amounts to a violation of his bail conditions to refrain from anti national activity.

Verma Commitee Report AFSPA
Verma Committee recognised that such violence by Army against women in conflict areas is a regular, systematic affair, not merely a few isolated instances as is being claimed.

Well, let us remind everyone that thousands of us spoke of precisely those rapes in the December 2012 anti rape movement. In fact, women’s groups that deposed about such rapes in front of the Verma Committee, led to that Committee making very strong recommendations to protect women from violence by armed forces in conflict areas. These recommendations include regular monitoring of conflict areas by specially appointed Commissioners to check on the safety and well being of women, especially women in Army or police custody. This recommendation means that the Verma Committee recognised that such violence by Army against women in conflict areas is a regular, systematic affair, not merely a few isolated instances as is being claimed. The Verma Committee also said that each such case must be dealt with under ordinary criminal law not by court martial alone – AND that the AFSPA must be reviewed to ensure it’s not used as a shield for rapes by men in uniform.

Do read the Verma Committee chapter on the subject below. (The full report can be accessed here)

Offences against women in border areas / conflict zones

We now address a very important, yet often neglected area concerning sexual violence against women – that of legal protections for m women in conflict areas. Our views on this subject are informed by the plight of a large number of restore confidence in the administration in such areas leading to mainstreaming.

12. To this end, we make the following recommendations for immediate implementation:

a) Sexual violence against women by members of the armed forces or uniformed personnel must be brought under the purview of ordinary criminal law;

b) Special care must also be taken to ensure the safety of women who are complainants and witnesses in cases of sexual assault by armed personnel;

c) There should be special commissioners – who are either judicially or legislatively appointed – for women’s safety and security in all areas of conflict in the country. These commissioners must be chosen from those who have experience with women’s issues, preferably in conflict areas. In addition, such commissioners must be vested with adequate powers to monitor and initiate action for redress and criminal prosecution in all cases of sexual violence against women by armed personnel;

d) Care must be taken to ensure the safety and security of women detainees in police stations, and women at army or paramilitary check points, and this should be a subject under the regular monitoring of the special commissioners mentioned earlier; women from areas in Kashmir, the North-East, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh who were heard at length in the course of preparing our report. We are indeed deeply concerned at the growing distrust of the State and its efforts to designate these regions as ‘areas of conflict’ even when civil society is available to engage and inform the lot of the poor. We are convinced that such an attitude on the part of the State only encourages the alienation of our fellow citizens.

11. At the outset, we notice that impunity for systematic or isolated sexual violence in the process of Internal Security duties is being legitimized by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which is in force in large parts of our country. It must be recognized that women in conflict areas are entitled to all the security and dignity that is afforded to citizens in any other part of our country. India has signed the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance 106, which has to be honoured. We therefore believe that strong measures to ensure such security and dignity willgo a long way not only to provide women in conflict areas their rightful entitlements, but also to

e) The general law relating to detention of women during specified hours of the day must be strictly followed;
f) Training and monitoring of armed personnel must be reoriented to include and emphasize strict observance by the armed personnel of all orders issued in this behalf;
g) There is an imminent need to review the continuance of AFSPA and AFSPA-like legal protocols in internal conflict areas as soon as possible. This is necessary for determining the propriety of resorting to this legislation in the area(s) concerned; and
h) Jurisdictional issues must be resolved immediately and simple procedural protocols put in place to avoid situations where police refuse or refrain from registering cases against paramilitary personnel.

Kavita Krishnan is the Secretary of the All India Progressive Womens’ Association (AIPWA)

 

 

 

  • PRASAD SN

    This seems to be a bigoted article. Army/Armed Forces are representative of the Indian society, volunteers from the same milieu. Ms Kavita Krishnan needs to spend some time with Army units to know the Military Law in execution. Because, punishments in the Army are harsher, many a times the same crime is broken into several crimes and then the perpetrator (who is a soldier) is punished, most of the times to ‘Set an Example’. It is absurd to read such articles because, soldiers are denied of their fundamental right to speech as per the MIML (Manual of Indian Military Law). As to her quoting Justice Verma’s name, if there are 2 judges who are found to be corrupt (there may be 20!) in the Supreme Court, shall I trumpet that ‘There is Systematic Corruption in the Supreme Court of India’?

  • Brigadier V Mahalingam

    I am sorry a deliberate attempt has been made by the author to gain cheap publicity by sensationalizing her article with a title which reads in part “Systematic Sexual Violence by The Army”. At the outset let me ask, if a professor indulges in some misappropriation of funds in a University, would it be right to go ahead and say “SystematicMisappropriation of Funds by University Professors?” I think the author needs to be more balanced and fair to an organisation. The author needs to know that lakhs of soldiers from various parts of the country and hundreds of units and formations have served in various trouble spots in the country sacrificing their lives and putting at stake the future of their families and young children. The author may not like the defence services but she cannot be so very unfair to the citizens of this nation who constitute the Indian Defence Services. It is very unfortunate the learned judge too chose to rely on hearsay rather than speaking to some of the men who has served in various trouble spots and hearing the point of view of the Defence Services before penning down his report castigating the Services.

    • Kumar Sundaram

      Dear Sir,

      If the University has a policy/rule to provide impunity to its staff in case of a harassment case, it would be called a systemic violence. And that is what Justice Verma referred to, in his report after the NIrbhaya case. The author has only highlighted that part of his report and put the civil movement against AFSPA in the context.

      Thanks and best regards

  • Brigadier V Mahalingam

    @ Kumar Sundaram. The Indian Army has no such policy to provide impunity to its staff against sexual violence. You may be aware that the Army’s award of punishment of such violators has in a number of cases been set aside by civil courts. If you are referring to AFSPA as a policy to provide impunity, let me out of first-hand experience tell you that false cases are filed against soldiers by people close to or instigated by militants and those inimical to the Army. In such cases when the case goes to the court, no one comes forward to give evidence in support of a soldier. Would we not be unfair to a soldier if he is allowed to be punished in such cases? What safeguard is available to him against such instigated prosecution. In most cases even local police has no option but to sing the militant song. Let me assure you the soldier has no interest serving in such areas or harassing people in these areas. He has nothing personal against people in these areas. If he is
    fired at he will act. It may be a good idea for the author to go and spend about a month with one of the Army units carrying out counter insurgency operations to get a first-hand knowledge of things. Regards.

  • Tara Chand

    she is mentally and physically sick of pleasing pakis…may be in love with pathans …

  • Venkatesh VT

    I really dont know whether the author has any family members in the armed forces.If so please consult them & find out how the the military justice system works.
    If not at least visit few army units & talk to all ranks to find out how the justice system works
    I am sure the same lady will then say that the Military law should be abolished since it is draconian
    Sadly Indian authors are one track minded & don’t do enough research before writing on sensitive issues

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