When Aruna Shaunbag died, with her went one of India’s most aggressive and successful movements of Euthanasia in India. One that saw passive euthanasia become a legal option for doctors and relatives. But still saw active euthanasia being denied.

If you do not understand the implication of this then let me put it in most simplest of ways: Switching off a ventilator does not attract imprisonment today.

I for one by ideology stand for active euthanasia (which is where the whole debate is always poised). And when she died I reacted. Between friends and family. And we embarked on a fabulous debate. At insistence of my cousin I read the judgement that was passed in Aruna Shaunbag case (fought by Pinki Virani). 

The case was presided by Markandey Katju. And the judgement literally changed my mind. Albeit I am still for active euthanasia but the way that judgement had broken down all arguments and cited reasoning behind each point was a master piece.

Also induced in me the habit of reading a lot of landmark supreme court judgments. 

But why am I meandering so much? What is my point?

In the judgement, Katju explains he cannot allow the medical plugs to be pulled off Aruna Shaunbag because the nurses at hospital consider her not as patient but as a survivor, a ray of hope, a braveheart who died in line of duty. How Aruna is the first person the newly recruited nurses are made to meet. How Aruna despite being in vegetative state for years still moves her hands if people speak loudly in her room and responds positively to a certain bhajan she is fond of. Little things such as these are all mentioned in the judgement.

But what is also mentioned is that he dismisses the plea for active euthanasia citing the social fabric of our country where relatives have shoddy ethics and may use these laws to gain property or for other dubious reasons.

Again why am I discussing this?

Because what Katju helped us understand is that law doesn’t seek for balance. Law fights for majority- of victims. It highlights the major cause of issue and sorts that. It obviously factors in misuse and also a certain level of injustice to an individual or a group of individuals. But that is how it evolves. Why gay pride is an issue today but wasn’t so much years ago. Back then women suffrage was a more pressing need.

As a feminist (yes I have had to use this word because apparently some people are not- news to me), one of the most prevalent debates I need to navigate is the misuse of dowry act. And given I have seen some cases up close and personal I for one obviously cannot deny. Funnily I have never seen anyone in this country talk about misuse of any other law as much but that’s a different (sexist) story.

Today we shall address the law side. Why women rights and policies exist as they do. 

Spend some time on these words:

India has by far the highest number of dowry related deaths in the world according to Indian National Crime Record Bureau. In 2012, 18,233 dowry death cases were reported across India. This means a bride was burned every 90 minutes, or dowry issues cause 1.4 deaths per year per 100,000 women in India.

To put things in perspective there in comparison to this number, men committing suicide due to harassment caused by mis-use of dowry act is 187.

But what motivated me to write this post is that with Maneka Gandhi introducing an anti-troll campaign, a furor has been created against it. And similar to the dowry act the first reactions that floated from all quarters were: Why only women? Why not men?

In last few days anti troll campaign of government has seen everything from this not being a pressing priority to ambiguous explanation of trolls to the always needed gender neutrality point in women laws, everything has been laid out. And as is the case with dowry act this one has attracted a lot of momentum.

Spend some time on these words:

Caroline Criado-Perez, who ran a campaign to convince the Bank of England to depict women on bank notes, describes, in a paper on online abuse, the hate she faced on Twitter: “On the 25 July 2013, I got my first rape threat. That was a Thursday. By Sunday, police had collected 300 A4 pages of threats that had been made against me.

“There were threats to mutilate my genitals, threats to slit my throat, to bomb my house, to pistol-whip me and burn me alive. I was told I would have poles shoved up my vagina, dicks shoved down my throat. I was told I would be begging to die, as a man would ejaculate in my eyeballs. And then they started posting an address linked to me around the Internet. I felt hunted. I felt terrified…The message was simple and clear: these men very much wanted me to stop talking.”

Credits for above words is here.

The above is a reality for many of us online. Our voices are often shut down by such powerful use of words. Even without touching a single part of my body a person is capable of making me feel the fear of being violated. Cases of mental sexual harassment (with no physical infliction) have taken people to asylums. And again have personally seen such cases, around.

maneka gandhi

Laws and policies are not made to create balance for all. They are taken to suit the social fabric and existing sentiment/ailment of society. Women are objectified today. Online harassment is a case for all but women are far more subjugated and (by the nature of threats) far more affected as well.

While Ravish wrote an open letter that his mother is abused by trolls online, Barkha Dutt will not have to go that far. She faces that sexual harassment ire herself first.

I am writing this post to say I am for an anti troll cell. A cell dedicated to online sexual harassment of women everywhere.

Are you?

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Also connecting to the Write Tribe Festival of Words


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