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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 16 August 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Courts differ in views on marital rape, J.S. Verma Committee
  2. Taliban has won: Ex-President of Afghanistan Ghani
  3. Hydro-meteorological calamities in India
  4. India organizes the IBSA Tourism minister’s meet

Courts continue to differ in views on marital rape

Context:

Four years after the Supreme Court referred to Justice J.S. Verma committee’s recommendation to make marital rape a crime, Indian courts continue to take views on marital rape that are the polar opposite of each other. 

Relevance:

GS-II: Social Justice (Issues related to Women, Government Policies and Initiatives), GS-II: Polity and Governance (Important Judgements and Committees)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Justice Verma Committee Report Summary 
  2. Status of Marital Rape in India
  3. Criticism of India’s Legal regime on Marital Rape
  4. On courts differing in views on marital rape

Justice Verma Committee Report Summary 

  • Justice Verma Committee was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women.
  • The Committee submitted its report in 2013, making recommendations on laws related to rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, child sexual abuse, medical examination of victims, police, electoral and educational reforms.

Rape

  • The Committee recommended that the gradation of sexual offences should be retained in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The Committee was of the view that rape and sexual assault are not merely crimes of passion but an expression of power.
  • Hence, it suggested that any non-consensual penetration of a sexual nature (not to be limited to penetration of the vagina, mouth or anus) should be included in the definition of rape. 

Marital Rape

  • The IPC differentiates between rape within marriage and outside marriage.  Under the IPC sexual intercourse without consent is prohibited.  However, an exception to the offence of rape exists in relation to un-consented sexual intercourse by a husband upon a wife. 
  • The Committee recommended that the exception to marital rape should be removed.  Marriage should not be considered as an irrevocable consent to sexual acts.
  • Therefore, with regard to an inquiry about whether the complainant consented to the sexual activity, the relationship between the victim and the accused should not be relevant. 

Sexual assault

  • The term outraging the modesty of a woman is not defined in the IPC.  Thus, where penetration cannot be proved, the offence is categorized as defined under Section 354 of the IPC with 2 years imprisonment.
  • The Committee recommended that non-penetrative forms of sexual contact should be regarded as sexual assault.  The offence of sexual assault should be defined so as to include all forms of non-consensual non-penetrative touching of a sexual nature.
  • The sexual nature of an act should be determined on the basis of the circumstances.  Sexual gratification as a motive for the act should not be prerequisite for proving the offence.

Verbal sexual assault

  • Some of the key recommendations made by the Committee on the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012 are:
  • Domestic workers should be included within the purview of the Bill.
  • Under the Bill the complainant and the respondent are first required to attempt conciliation.  This is contrary to the Supreme Court judgment in Vishakha vs. State of Rajasthan which aimed to secure a safe workplace to women.
  • The employer should pay compensation to the woman who has suffered sexual harassment.
  • The Bill requires the employer to institute an internal complaints committee to which complaints must be filed.

Acid attack

  • The Committee opined that the offence should not be clubbed under the provisions of grievous hurt which is punishable with 7 years imprisonment under the IPC.

Offences against women in conflict areas

  • The continuance of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in conflict areas needs to be revisited according to the committee.
  • AFSPA requires a sanction by the central government for initiating prosecution against armed forces personnel.  The Committee has recommended that the requirement of sanction for prosecution of armed forces personnel should be specifically excluded when a sexual offence is alleged.

Trafficking

  • The Committee noted that the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, 1956 did not define trafficking comprehensively since it only criminalised trafficking for the purpose of prostitution.  It recommended that the provisions of the IPC on slavery be amended to criminalise trafficking by threat, force or inducement.

Child sexual abuse

  • The Committee has recommended that the terms ‘harm’ and ‘health’ be defined under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 to include mental and physical harm and health, respectively, of the juvenile.         

Punishment for crimes against women

  • The Committee rejected the proposal for chemical castration as it fails to treat the social foundations of rape.
  • It opined that death penalty should not be awarded for the offence of rape as there was considerable evidence that death penalty was not a deterrence to serious crimes.  It recommended life imprisonment for rape.

Police reforms

  • The Committee has recommended certain steps to reform the police which include establishment of State Security Commissions to ensure that state governments do not exercise influence on the state police.
  • The Commission would lay down broad policy guidelines so that the Police acts according to the law.
  • A Police Establishment Board should be established to decide all transfers, postings and promotions of officers. 

Status of Marital Rape in India

  • The definition of rape codified in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) includes all forms of sexual assault involving non-consensual intercourse with a woman.
  • Non-Criminalization of marital rape in India emanates from Exception 2 to Section 375.
  • However, Exception 2 to Section 375 exempts unwilling sexual intercourse between a husband and a wife over fifteen years of age from Section 375’s definition of “rape” and thus immunizes such acts from prosecution.
  • As per current law, a wife is presumed to deliver perpetual consent to have sex with her husband after entering into marital relations.
  • The concept of marital rape in India is the epitome of what we call an “implied consent”. Marriage between a man and a woman here implies that both have consented to sexual intercourse and it cannot be otherwise.

 

Criticism of India’s Legal regime on Marital Rape

  • Marital rape is criminalized in more than 100 countries but, unfortunately, India is one of the only 36 countries where marital rape is still not criminalized.
  • The Supreme Court has included sanctity of women, and freedom to make choices related to sexual activity under the ambit of Article 21. Therefore, this exception clause is violative of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Rape laws in our country continue with the patriarchal outlook of considering women to be the property of men post marriage, with no autonomy or agency over their bodies. They deny married women equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Indian constitution.
  • A married woman has the same right to control her own body as does an unmarried woman. Unfortunately, this principle is not upheld in Indian rape laws.
  • Our penal laws, handed down from the British, have by and large remained untouched even after 73 years of independence. But English laws have been amended and marital rape was criminalised way back in 1991. No Indian government has, however, so far shown an active interest in remedying this problem.

 

On courts differing in views on marital rape

  • Kerala High Court backed marital rape as a valid ground for divorce.
  • A court in Maharashtra gave anticipatory bail to a man while concluding that forcible sex with his wife was not an “illegal thing” though she said it left her paralysed.
  • In 2017, the Supreme Court highlighted that legislative immunity given to marital rape stemmed from the “outdated notion that a wife is no more than a subservient chattel of her husband”.
  • Gujarat High Court has held that “a law that does not give married and unmarried women equal protection creates conditions that lead to the marital rape”.
  • In the Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Administration case, the SC backed a “woman’s right to refuse participation in sexual activity or alternatively the insistence on use of contraceptive methods”. The court has held that “rape is not only a crime against the person of a woman, it is a crime against the entire society”.

-Source: The Hindu


Taliban has won: Ex-President of Afghanistan Ghani

Context:

Ex-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said after fleeing the country that the Taliban had won, as the militants entered Kabul – nearly 20 years after they were ousted from power by a US-led invasion.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (India’s Neighbors, Important Developments in International Politics affecting India’s Interests, Foreign Policies and Agreements affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Taliban’s Victory in Afghanistan
  2. Who are the Taliban?
  3. What is the Taliban’s ideology?
  4. Impact of Taliban’s Victory

About Taliban’s Victory in Afghanistan

  • President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan and has sought asylum in Tajikistan.
  • This marks the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking the country.
  • Taliban said that it would announce the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the presidential palace.
  • Afghanistan was called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under the Taliban government that was ousted by the U.S.-led forces after the 9/11 attacks.

Who are the Taliban?

Origins

  • The Taliban, which means “students” in the Pashto language, emerged in 1994 around the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. It was one of the factions fighting a civil war for control of the country following the withdrawal of the Soviet Union and subsequent collapse of the government.
  • It originally drew members from so-called “mujahideen” fighters who, with support from the United States, repelled Soviet forces in the 1980s.
  • Within the space of two years, the Taliban had gained sole control over most of the country, proclaiming an Islamic emirate in 1996 with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Other mujahideen groups retreated to the north of the country.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

  • The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is an Islamic state governed by the Taliban that ruled the country from 1996 to 2001 (before its current victory on 15th August 2021).
  • Between 1996 and 2001, it controlled approximately 90% of the country, whereas remaining regions in the northeast were held by the Northern Alliance, which maintained broad international recognition as a continuation of the Islamic State of Afghanistan.
  • Only four countries, including neighbour Pakistan, recognised the Taliban government when it was in power.
  • Following the 9-11 attacks on the twin towers in the U.S. in 2001 by the al Qaeda, US-backed forces in the north swept into Kabul in November under the cover of heavy US airstrikes. Because of this The Taliban melted away into remote areas, where it began a 20-year-long insurgency against the Afghan government and its Western allies.

What is the Taliban’s ideology?

  • During its five years in power, the Taliban enforced a strict version of sharia law. Women were predominantly barred from working or studying, and were confined to their homes unless accompanied by a male guardian.
  • Public executions and floggings were common, Western films and books were banned, and cultural artefacts seen as blasphemous under Islam were destroyed. Opponents and Western countries accuse the Taliban of wanting to return to this style of governance in the areas it already controls – a claim the group denies.
  • The Taliban said earlier this year it wanted a “genuine Islamic system” for Afghanistan that would make provisions for women’s and minority rights, in line with cultural traditions and religious rules.

Impact of Taliban’s Victory

  • There are indications of a return to the harsh version of Islamic rule Afghans lived under from 1996 until 2001.
  • The biggest losers in the transition would be Afghan women and youth who had political, civic, economic and human rights and opportunities, and media freedoms under the Afghan government.
  • Afghans fear that the Taliban could reimpose the kind of brutal rule that almost eliminated women’s rights.
  • Fear is running high among the ethnic Hazara minority, Shia Muslims who were persecuted by the Taliban and made major gains in education and social status over the past two decades.
  • Commercial flights were later suspended after sporadic gunfire erupted at Kabul International Airport.
  • Evacuations continued on military flights.
  • The immediate challenge is a massive humanitarian crisis on account of the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced who have left other war zones and taken shelter on pavements and parks in Kabul.
  • Also, there is the panic and rush for passports and visas for those who fear for their lives from the Taliban or their sponsors.
  • There have been reports of revenge killings and other brutal tactics in areas of the country the Taliban have seized in recent days.

-Source: The Hindu


Hydro-meteorological calamities in India

Context:

Nearly 6,800 people lost their lives in the country over the past three years due to hydro-meteorological calamities.

Relevance:

GS-III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Hydro-meteorological calamities in India
  2. Government’s efforts towards flood management
  3. Mitigation for Land Slides

Hydro-meteorological calamities in India

  • Hydro-meteorological calamities and hazards include flash floods, cloudbursts and landslips triggered by extreme rainfall events or cloudbursts.
  • Hydro-meteorological calamities accounted for 14% of the deaths in the country.
  • Various types of fatal landslip events are common almost every year, mainly in the Himalayan States, in the Western Ghats, and Konkan areas.
  • West Bengal has recorded the highest deaths due to such calamities among all States, followed by Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.
  • In Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, the spike in the casualties has been caused by floods.

Peculiar Case of West Bengal

  • In West Bengal, for three consecutive years, the deaths due to natural calamities are high. The reason could be the geography of the State where there are both mountains and coastline.
  • West Bengal is susceptible to both landslides, cyclones and floods. Over the past three years, West Bengal had braved four tropical cyclones — Fani (May 2019), Bulbul (November 2019), Amphan (May 2020) and Yaas (May 2021).

Government’s efforts towards flood management

  • Rashtriya Barh Ayog (RBA) was constituted in 1976. It submitted its report in 1980 recommending various measures of flood control.
  • National Water Policy-2012: It emphasizes construction of large storage reservoirs and other non-structural measures for integrated flood management.
  • Setting up Ganga Flood Control Commission (GFCC) at Patna in 1972 and Brahmaputra Board in 1980 for advising the Ganga Basin States and North EasternStates respectively on Flood Management measures.
  • The Central Water Commission (CWC) was set up in 1945: It performs flood forecasting activities on major rivers and their tributaries in the country and issues flood forecast at 175 stations.

Mitigation for Land Slides

  • Restriction on the construction and other developmental activities such as roads and dams in the areas prone to landslides.
  • Limiting agriculture to valleys and areas with moderate slopes.
  • Control on the development of large settlements in the high vulnerability zones.
  • Promoting large-scale afforestation programmes and construction of bunds to reduce the flow of water.
  • Terrace farming should be encouraged in the northeastern hill states where Jhumming (Slash and Burn/Shifting Cultivation) is still prevalent.

-Source: The Hindu


India organizes the IBSA Tourism minister’s meet

Context:

India organised the IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) Tourism Ministers’ virtual meet.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Important International Groupings, Foreign policies affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa)
  2. About the IBSA Tourism Ministers Meet
  3. Extras: IBSA Fund

About IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa)

  • The  IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) is a trilateral, developmental initiative between India, Brazil and South Africa to promote South-South cooperation and exchange.
  • The grouping was formalized and named the IBSA Dialogue Forum when the Foreign Ministers of the three countries met in Brasilia (Brazil) on 6th June 2003 and issued the Brasilia Declaration.
  • The idea of South-South Cooperation (SSC) is not new. Its genesis can be traced back to the decades of efforts by countries and groupings working together to ensure South-South solidarity such as Bandung conference 1955, Non-Aligned Movement 1961, G77 grouping, UNCTAD, the Buenos Aires Plan of Action 1978, and the 2009 Nairobi declaration.
  • India is the current IBSA Chair as of August 2021 and so far 5 IBSA Leadership Summits have been held.

About the IBSA Tourism Ministers Meet

  • The IBSA Tourism Ministers Meeting recognized the importance of strengthening cooperation in tourism to overcome the impact of Covid 19 pandemic on the tourism sector
  • The Ministers agreed to implement various tourism activities to be actioned by respective member countries.
  • The significant aspect of the meeting was the adoption of the IBSA Tourism Ministers Joint Statement, an outcome document on cooperation and promotion for speedy recovery of travel and tourism.

Extras: IBSA Fund

  • Development projects are executed with IBSA funding in fellow developing countries through the IBSA Fund (India, Brazil and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation).
  • Established in 2004, IBSA Fund is managed by the United Nations (UN) Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). Each IBSA member country is required to contribute $1 million per annum to the fund.
  • Over the years, the fund has contributed $39 million and partnered in 19 countries from global South to implement 26 projects.
  • Projects have been funded in countries such as Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Cape Verde, Burundi, Cambodia, Haiti, Palestine, Vietnam and others.
  • The fund has also been recognised for its good work in the field and has received UN South-South Partnership award 2006, UN MDG (Millenium Development Goals) award 2010, and the South-South and Triangular Cooperation Champions award in 2012.

-Source: The Hindu

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