Are women safe in India?

Aljzeera pic

Aljzeera pic

We ask if the country’s existing laws and the attitude of law enforcers are serving to compound or prevent sexual abuse.
The gang-rape of a medical student on a moving bus last week in New Delhi has triggered mass protests on the streets of India, with calls for change and justice for a young woman.
She was raped for about an hour and thrown out of the bus. She is recovering in the intensive care unit after undergoing multiple surgeries. Her injuries were so bad that she was only recently able to give a statement to the Indian authorities.

The 23-year-old told police six men took turns sexually assaulting her. The suspects allegedly used a metal rod to assault the victim and her friend.

“The rape laws are crying out for change because according to the present laws, insertion of an object in a woman’s body is not considered rape, marital rape is not considered rape, there are no specific provisions relating to custodial rape. So there are huge problems with the way in which sexual harassment is described as something silly as outraging the modesty.”

– Kavita Krishnan, the secretary of the All-India Progressive Women’s Association

Angry Indians are hitting the streets, defying a ban on mass demonstrations. Police have been using tear gas and water cannon against the protesters.

So, just how widespread a problem is sexual abuse against women in India?

There are reports that suggest that in India, a woman is raped every 20 minutes.

More than 24,000 rape cases in the country were reported last year alone, of which 570 were reported in the Indian capital, where already this year 635 rape cases have been registered.

The legal news service Trust Law says India is the worst country in the G20 to be a woman. It says women and girls continue to be sold, married off at a young age, exploited and abused as domestic slaves.

The number of crimes recorded against women, including kidnapping, abduction, and human trafficking exceeds 2.5 million.

Many activists say Indians are protesting against what they say is a culture of impunity.

There are 40,000 pending rape cases in the country and survivors have to wait years for their cases to be heard – even then the conviction rate is just 34.6 percent – according to the National Crimes Record Bureau.

“Section 376 [Indian Penal Code] takes care of punishing each and everybody [for sexual abuse] … as far as preventing such incidents are concerned our basic problem [in] policing is they are punitive and not preventive in nature .… Similarly political will is lacking because we keep crying about the judicial process as being very low but the question is, it is the government’s duty to provide proper infrastructure.”

– Rajeev Aswathi, a Delhi high court lawyer

The Indian Penal Code lists punishments of up to life behind bars, but those convicted are often let off after serving a short sentence.

Undercover reporters in India gathered evidence of how the police in the Delhi region view rape survivors. The investigation published by the Indian weekly Tehelka exposed how the system often blames the survivors.
Senior police officers were caught on hidden camera talking about survivors, saying: “She asked for it”; “It’s all about money”; “They have made it a business”; “It’s consensual most of the time”.
Seventeen officers in over a dozen police stations were caught on spy cameras blaming everything from revealing clothes to having boyfriends or going to pubs as the main reasons for rape.
The investigators came to the conclusion that the officers encountered do not fulfil the basic standard of policing, which requires investigating a case without any cultural, class or gender bias.
In this episode, Inside Story discusses if women are safe in India.
Joining the discussion, with presenter Hazem Sika, are guests: Kavita Krishnan, the secretary of the All-India Progressive Women’s Association; Rajeev Aswathi, a New Delhi high court lawyer who has previously represented rape survivors; and Lawrence Saez, a professor of political economy at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the author of New Dimensions of Politics in India: The United Progressive Alliance in Power.

“This case has alerted people to the problem primarily because the victim was a middle-class student and the alleged rapists are people who migrated to the city so there’s an element of social class struggle. But rape is sadly quite common in the villages, sometimes by the police and by people who are wealthy against people who are very poor, and they escape with impunity.”

Lawrence Saez, a professor of political economy

Rape capitals of the world in 2010:

  • South Africa – it has one of the highest rates, with 277,000 reported cases. The same year a survey by the Medical Research Council found that one in four men admitted to raping someone
  • United States – more than 84,000 rape cases were reported. Criminals face life behind bars, and in some states, castration is an option
  • India – reported a little more than 22,000 cases
  • United Kingdom – 16,000 cases were reported. A suspect found guilty, faces a maximum conviction of life in prison
  • Mexico – nearly 15,000 cases were reported. In some parts of the country, penalties may consist of a few hours in jail, or minor fines
  • Germany – counts the highest number of reported rape cases in Europe, just under 8,000
  • Russia – almost 5,000 cases were reported, and the crime holds a punishment of 4 -10 years in jail




#26Acts of kindness: San Antonio third-graders rack up 115 good deeds


A third-grader at Thomas L. Hatchett, Sr. Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas wrote this message about the value of performing acts of kindness for others.

After covering the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., NBC News’ Ann Curry wondered what could be done to ease the national suffering over the loss of 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. Why not, she tweeted, commit to doing one act of kindness for every child killed there? People responded — and wanted to up that to 26 acts of kindness for every child and adult lost at the school. Now people around the country are committing random acts of kindness — connected through the hashtag #26Acts (#20Acts and others are also trending). Get inspired: You can start your own acts of kindness right now.

Like many school teachers across the country, Susan Garcia was nervous. On the Monday after the unthinkable school massacre in Connecticut, how would she handle the inevitable tears and questions from her third-grade students? What could she possibly say?

Then she saw a tweet from NBC News’ Ann Curry. The tweet mentioned the idea of doing 26 acts of kindness in response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Garcia thought, “That’s it!”

“I knew this could be a way to spread positivity at our school and honor those victims,” said Garcia, 44, a teacher at Thomas L. Hatchett, Sr. Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas.

She sat down with her 8- and 9-year-old pupils on Monday and floated the idea of doing random acts of kindness throughout the week.

“They ran with it,” Garcia said. “They are SO excited.”

The kids enthusiastically began dreaming up thoughtful deeds they could do for teachers, students, school administrators, custodians, parents, siblings and others. Their ideas included:

  • Give someone a hug.
  • Give someone a smile.
  • Meet someone new at recess and play together.
  • Make Christmas cards for parents, teachers, custodians and others.
  • Pick up some trash.
  • Take someone’s tray for them at lunch.

Inspired by Curry’s original tweet, Garcia did some sleuth work online to find ways to make the random acts of kindness concept resonate with 8- and 9-year-olds. She found ideas on Pinterest and on the blog, which ran a post about orchestrating Random Acts of Classroom Kindness at school and having students log their kind deeds on Random Acts of Classroom Kindness, or “RACK,” sheets.


Third-graders filled out “RACK sheets” like this one and logged their kind deeds throughout the week.

By the end of this week, Garcia’s class collectively completed 115 acts of kindness.

“They want to keep doing this in January after we come back from (winter) break,” Garcia said. “I told them, ‘We don’t have to stop! We can definitely keep doing it if we want!’

“We were all so shocked and devastated by what happened. This has been a way to turn it into a positive.”

Related stories:


11 Surprising Things that Affect Your Dreams

By Woman s Day | Living Well – 

You hate how your mother-in-law meddles in your marriage, so it’s no shocker when you tell her off in your dream-dreams are, after all, your brain’s way of working through unresolved conflicts. But what can explain that recent string of random nightmares or incredibly vivid visions? “We know a bit about things that affect dream recall and make for more nightmares,” says Deirdre Barrett, PhD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, and author of The Committee of Sleep. So here, 11 surprising things that can influence what pops up in your dreams or how likely you are to remember them. Photo by iStock.


Do sweet smells lead to sweet dreams? One small study found that sniffing flowers at a particular point in the sleep cycle led to more positive dreams, while a sulfur odor was linked to negative ones. Though researchers say you can’t replicate those results in your bedroom (by the time you’re dreaming, that lilac blossom scent you spritzed pre-bedtime can’t stimulate you), there’s a possibility that a sudden aroma-bacon wafting up from the kitchen, for example-could infiltrate your dream. “Dreams are sleep protective,” says J. Catesby Ware, PhD, Chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School, in Norfolk, VA. “So instead of waking up, you incorporate those stimuli into your dream.”


You wake up after dreaming you’re stuck in a burning building-and realize that the fire alarm you heard was actually your alarm clock. What’s with that? There’s a narrow window for sounds to get through to your brain during sleep, says Dr. Barrett: “They need to be low enough that they don’t wake you but high enough that you perceive them.” So let a recording of ocean waves play softly throughout the night. You might recall a dream about a beach vacation or wake up feeling relaxed.

Spicy Food

It’s simple: Anything that could cause indigestion-cheese, spicy foods, a big meal-makes you stir more, meaning you have a better shot of remembering that nightmare. “The rule of thumb is that you need to wake up within five minutes of having a dream to recall it,” says Dr. Ware. For rest that’s more peaceful all around, eat dinner at least two hours before bedtime, and choose nighttime snacks wisely (read: no Haagen-Dazs if you’re lactose intolerant). Since caffeine can have the same disruptive effect, it’s best to cut off your coffee intake post-2 p.m. too.

Sleeping on Your Stomach

Are you prone to racy dreams? Well, sleeping in the prone position (that is, on your stomach) might have something to do with it. A new study published in the Journal Dreaming found that lying on your belly in bed was linked to blush-worthy dream themes, like having sex with a celebrity or being tied up. Researchers hypothesize that it might have to do with your breathing patterns in this position. To stop the sexy thoughts-or keep ’em coming-adjust your sleep posture accordingly.

Vitamin B6

While there’s no research on whether or not taking B6 leads to more lucid dreams, the Internet is awash with anecdotal reports that it does-which, according to Dr. Barrett, makes good biological sense. “B6 is the co-factor our body uses to turn some of the amino acids we eat into the neurotransmitters that affect our dreaming,” she says. To stop the vivid dreams, stop the supplements. But if you’re looking to encourage dreaming, stay within the recommended amount of B6 daily-too much could cause nerve damage or numbness over time.


Yes, those pills that are supposed to calm you down-especially the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class of antidepressants, like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft-might be upping your nightmares. “They’ve been shown to make REM bursts more intense in the people who take them,” says Dr. Barrett, referring to rapid-eye movement sleep, the stage during which we dream. “And most of those people seem to have more nightmares as a side effect.” If you’re feeling tormented, talk to your doctor about switching to a similar drug. While all SSRIs can cause nightmares, Dr. Barrett says each variation tends to affect each person’s brain differently.

Quitting Smoking

Vivid dreams have been shown to be a symptom of kicking the habit, and in one study, 63% of smokers still dreamed about smoking a year later. Granted, you may just be working through your main issue at the moment (the fact that you really want a cigarette), but nicotine withdrawal also enhances brain activity in a way that can make you dream more, says Patrick McNamara, PhD, Director of the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. His advice: Stick it out. Those neurons will eventually calm down again-and your lungs will be much healthier.

Black-and-White TV

File under quirky but possibly true: If you grew up before color TV sets were commonplace, you might be more likely to recall your dreams in grayscale rather than color, according to one study by a British researcher. The sweet spot for being exposed to black-and-white media might be between about three and 10 years old (when most people start remembering their dreams), so there’s not much you can do to change your dream palette now. Still, it’s interesting to think about if you grew up on a steady diet of classic movies or I Love Lucy

Going to Bed Hungry

You’re struggling to keep yourself on that diet-and you might be having the dreams to prove it. Low blood sugar can rouse you from sleep, meaning you may remember more dreams and those dreams may star a juicy burger or a piping-hot piece of pizza. In fact, Dr. Ware’s anorexic patients almost always dreamed about food in one sleep study. Luckily, a small nighttime snack of a banana and a glass of skim milk isn’t just filling, healthy and waistline-friendly-it also contains tryptophan (the amino acid in turkey that makes people drowsy after Thanksgiving dinner), which can help you sleep more soundly.

Scary Movies Before Bed

You’ve been hearing it since you were a kid: Spooky movies cause spooky nightmares. But is there any truth to that mom-knows-best scare tactic? Dr. Barrett says the last thing you do before bed matters, period. “The music you’re listening to, the book you’re reading, the TV show you’re watching, the conversation you’re having with your spouse-all those things are likely to be influencing,” she says. So if you suffer from nightmares and happen to catch a horror flick, take a few minutes to reprogram your brain with happy thoughts-like vacation memories or favorite moments with your kids-before settling down to sleep.

Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period

Your baby’s lost, so you search for her wildly, ripping at your bed sheets or even grabbing your husband for help. Is this nightmare typical pregnant woman/new mom anxiety? According to research, yes. Studies have found that it’s common to have extremely vivid dreams during pregnancy and your baby’s infancy, likely due to a mix of emotions, lack of sleep and fluctuating hormone levels. Just like so many things that happen to our bodies around pregnancy and childbirth, there’s not much you can do to control them. But these dreams are a sign that your brain is helping you adapt to this huge life change-let that serve as a source of comfort.

Original article appeared on

Jenni Rivera: A beautiful voice goes silent

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for LARAS


Singer Jenni Rivera at the 11th annual Latin GRAMMY Awards in 2010.

UPDATE 8:29 a.m.: The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is confirming that famed Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera, 43, died in a plane crash in northern Mexico, according to The Associated Press.

It is the first official confirmation of Rivera’s death, although she has been widely presumed dead since the wreckage of her plane was found Sunday.

The NTSB is sending a team to assist Mexican authorities with the investigation. NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway says Mexican aviation authorities had confirmed Rivera’s death to the NTSB.


PREVIOUSLY: The news that no survivors have been found in the wreckage of a small plane in which Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera and six others were traveling before it crashed Sunday in northern Mexico means “the world has lost one very beautiful voice,” as E! Online writes.

According to The Associated Press:

“Transportation and Communications Minister Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said that ‘everything points toward’ [the plane] being the U.S.-registered Learjet 25 carrying Rivera and six other people from Monterrey en route to Toluca, Mexico. The plane had gone missing after takeoff early Sunday. ‘There is nothing recognizable, neither material nor human’ in the wreckage,’ Ruiz Esparza told the Televisa network.”

Rivera, 43, “was the Diana Ross of Mexican music,” Gustavo Lopez, an executive vice president at Universal Music Latin Entertainment, an umbrella group that includes Rivera’s label, tells the Los Angeles Times.

On Morning Edition, NPR’s Mandalit Del Barco told host Renee Montagne that Rivera was known as the “diva of Banda music.” Also, “watching the soap opera of Jenni Rivera’s life” on reality TV — the singer was divorced three times — was a huge part of her popularity, Mandalit said.

E! Online notes that:

“For the past 20 years, the Long Beach [Calif.] native has been a strong force in the Latino music community, and has sold over 20 million albums worldwide, along with multiple nominations at the Latin Grammys. But her accomplishments didn’t stop there. Rivera was the first female Banda artist to sell-out a concert at the world famous Gibson Amphitheater in Universal City, Calif., and became the first artist to sell-out two back-to-back nights at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. …

“She also became the producer for her daughter Janney Marin’s reality TV show on Telemundo’s Mun2, Chiquis & Raq-C, and starred in her own show on the same network called I Love Jenni, which premiered last year. The singer-songwriter was slated to star in a new family comedy, Jenni, on ABC.”

Canadian Coyotes???….Romanians suspected of smuggling Gypsies into Canada through Mexico, US

by Associated Press,

TORONTO — Canadian immigration officials believe a Romanian smuggling ring has been bringing Gypsies into the U.S. through Mexico in order for them to eventually gain asylum in Canada.Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday that 85 people, including 35 children, who arrived in Canada since February have now been classified as “irregular arrivals,” which means they can’t apply for permanent residence status for at least five years.

“Quite frankly we really haven’t seen anything like this in our immigration system before. People from Europe that go to Mexico, that go through the U.S. to come to Canada and then go to Toronto where many of them got involved in criminal activity,” Kenney said at a news conference in Stanstead, Quebec, a town that borders Vermont.

Thirty of the irregular arrivals have been arrested under newly enacted immigration laws that allow for the mandatory detention of those suspected to have arrived in Canada via smugglers, Kenney said.

Over the past year, cars loaded with ethnic Roma asylum seekers have run the border between Derby Line, Vermont and Stanstead, Quebec. The border crossing was previously all-but-non-existent before 9/11. The once-open streets between Vermont and Quebec have now have become the preferred route into Canada for refugees who carry Romanian passports. Only recently has Canada beefed up security in Stanstead.

Kenney declined to identify their ethnicity but said the groups of Romanian nationals illegally crossed into Canada between February and October.

Kenney said the Romanians would typically spend a few days in Mexico before illegally crossing the U.S. border and then driving north into Quebec, where police would typically hold them until they requested asylum and would be released.

He said many of the Romanians went to Toronto and some to Montreal. Canadian officials said many arrived in indebted to a criminal organization and in some cases engaged in crime to pay back the smuggling debts. Twelve have been charged in unrelated crimes since arriving in Canada.

Kenney noted that Canada has one of the most generous immigration systems in the world but said they won’t tolerate those who abuse that generosity or cheat the system to jump the queue.

“We are sending a strong message to those who are thinking of using the services of criminal human smugglers to sneak their way into Canada – don’t do it,” Kenney said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in California have noticed a spike in Romanian border crossers.

“You don’t normally find people from Romania crossing in El Centro,” said ICE San Diego spokesman Lauren Mack. The agents apprehending them know they are dealing with gypsies.  “We have noticed and are aware of an increase in the number of Roma who are being smuggled into the United States and are concerned about it.”

Mack said they are also aware the Romanians are headed to Canada.

Associated Press writer Wilson Ring in Burlington, Vermont contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.