Last week was one of confusions and controversies in India. From the Bombay High Court’s bizarre ruling to the farmers’ parade, the last seven days saw social and political issues ruling social media debates too.
A few days ago, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court passed a judgement holding that the act of groping a child’s breast, without any skin-to-skin contact and sexual intent, is not sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The National Commission of Women (NCW) Chairperson, Rekha Sharma, was among the many who commented on this judgement.
2. This judgment will not only have cascading effect on various provisions involving safety and security of women in general but also put all the women under ridicule and has trivialized the legal provisions provided by the legislature for the safety and security of women.
— Rekha Sharma (@sharmarekha) January 25, 2021
A few days later, the same Bench ruled that “the act of holding a girl's hands and opening the zip of pants will not come under the definition of sexual assault” under the POCSO Act 2012. The court also acquitted a man of raping a minor ruling that ‘it is highly impossible for a single man to gag a survivor’s mouth.’ Journalist Rituparna Chatterjee voiced significant concerns on this:
This is not a comment on the evidence submitted in this particular case. But what generally worries me is the thought that
1. it's not rape if there's no scuffle.
2. a man cannot overpower a girl/woman by himself
3. prior sexual experience is used against her claim pic.twitter.com/1DoPNZHxLw
— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) January 29, 2021
Another important event in the past week was the Kisaan parade in New Delhi on Republic Day, held in protest against the Centre's agriculture laws.
Centrists, urban middle class must realise that it is entirely possible to continue adoring our beloved PM while opposing the #FarmBill2020. That’s what he means when he says dissent is the lifeblood of democracy. To think the bill only concerns farmers is stupid and myopic.
— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) January 29, 2021
However, the peaceful protest turned into a violent one when tens of thousands of farmers atop tractors broke barriers, clashed with police, and entered the city from various points, to lay siege to the Red Fort and climb the flagpole on Republic Day.
Here is what journalist Zeba Warsi and entrepreneur Shruti Chaturvedi has to say on these.
Farmer Unions say protests will continue, announce ‘Kisaan Sabhas’ and one day fast on 30th Jan, to observe the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
On yesterday: “Majority of farmers were peaceful, those who wanted to sabotage our movement indulged in violence” #FarmersProtests
— Zeba Warsi (@Zebaism) January 27, 2021
Note: I still support the movement, but I am not in support of what happened today. I am equally disheartened because a fantastically curated movement has become synonymous to hooliganism today in common perception because of what a group did.
— Shruti Chaturvedi (@adhicutting) January 26, 2021
Meanwhile, the Noida Police has filed a case against eight persons, including journalists Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pandey, Zafar Agha and editors of The Caravan magazine, and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, for allegedly misreporting and spreading disharmony during the clashes between the police and protesting farmers on Republic Day. Like many others, journalist Sagarika Ghose was bothered by how no action was taken against those who led the assault.