By Guest Writer Avanti Deshpande
Free and fair elections underpinned by the universal adult franchise are undoubtedly the cornerstone of a democratic state in today’s standards. Yet, while most democratic countries acknowledge the importance of voting rights, voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement are not new problems and have long been plaguing democracies.
Indian law places a blanket ban on voting for all prisoners; i.e., not only convicts but under-trial prisoners whose innocence or guilt is yet to be proven conclusively in a court of law. With no exception, reasoning, or rationale being provided under law for denying prisoners the right to vote, this piece will attempt to critically engage with the issue of the disqualification of prisoners from voting in elections and argue that it is fundamentally unconstitutional and violative of the basic tenets of a democratic state.
Overview of the Present Legal Framework
The issue of the disenfranchisement of prisoners in India stems from Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act,...
By Guest Writers Srushti S Kekre* and Udisha Surana**
Of all forms of inequality, ‘injustice in healthcare’ is the most shocking and inhumane.
-Martin Luther King Jr.
Since time immemorial, the LGBTQIA community has been subjected to regressive and dehumanizing practices. Pervasive intolerance and prejudice has forced them to live on the margins of society and fight for something as indispensable as healthcare.
The Indian healthcare system has historically functioned around a heteronormative mindset, actively dismissing the interests of people with gender diverse identities. Yet Article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees protection against any discrimination on the basis of caste, race, gender and religion. Meanwhile, the Indian Supreme Court, in the landmark case of L.I.C of India v. Consumer Education and Research Centre, expressly applied the principles of equality to eliminate any form of discrimination and protect the right to health and adequate healthcare facilities.
Lamentably, bigotry has progressed to an extent where, throughout the Covid-19 global pandemic, the LGBTQIA community was intentionally...
By Guest Contributor Farid Noori.
On September 30, 2022, 18-year-old Marzia Mohammadi started somewhat of a different day. A special day, some might say. She was going to take the practice version of Afghanistan’s national university entrance exam in a country where schools are closed for girls past sixth grade. Smart, beautiful, and ambitious, Marzia kept a diary in which she wrote lofty dreams like one day meeting in Paris her favorite author, Elif Shafak, and going for a bike ride. Her entry on September 22 reads:
“When national results are out, Marzia, daughter of Bostan Ali, will score in the top 10.”
Eight days later, while preparing for that same exam, instead of showing the world her talent and grit, Marzia was torn to pieces. A suicide bomber entered the classroom and detonated himself among the students killing Marzia, her cousin Hajar, and 55 other students. Besides being mostly girls, the victims shared another identity: all were Hazara, an ethnicity heir...
By Guest Writer Arifur Rahman*
The conception that a man needs to be virile, powerful, tough and impenetrable is dominant in a country like Bangladesh. Being a male rape victim, therefore, is considered a flagrant violation of the code of heterosexuality– such an individual no longer belongs to the sphere of masculinity. In effect, most male rape cases in Bangladesh remain under-reported. However, in recent years, the country has witnessed a notable spike in male rape cases. Data from a leading human rights organization reveal that, in the year 2021, a number of 31 male rape cases were reported. Recently, a madrasah teacher was arrested for the alleged rape of his 12 year old male student. Despite the presence of male rape in Bangladesh, the legal redress for male rape victims stands somewhat as a legal quandary and reflects the societal expectation of ideal masculinity.
The Penal Code 1860, for instance, blatantly affirms hegemonic masculinity. The 100-year-old legal instrument bears a colonial...
By Guest Contributor Rachel Sadoff*
[John Sikowel, age 36] was brutalized, beaten and forced to walk although he is disabled. He had to crawl into his cell. […] He received some medication, but no proper medical treatment. He is locked in his cell most of the time.
– Manfred Nowak, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Torture.
Globally, people with disabilities (PWDs) are “more likely to experience victimization, be arrested, be charged with a crime, and serve longer prison sentences once convicted, than those without disabilities,” reports the US National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability. This group includes people with intellectual and developmental conditions like Down Syndrome and blindness, as well as psychological ones like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In Papua New Guinea (PNG), this structural violence is enabled by legal neglect, torpid reform, and a lack of enforcement of disability policies. As PNG’s largest source of aid and investment – constituting 80% of its foreign development assistance – Australia is uniquely...
By RightsViews Staff Writer Sydney Smith
On March 10 2022, SOGI rights researcher and activist Ajita Banerjie (she/they) spoke about the legacy of the landmark Supreme Court of India decision, Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India. On September 6, 2018, in a unanimous decision by the court, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (1860), which criminalized unnatural sex between two individuals, was considered unconstitutional on the grounds that it violated the rights to expression, equality, privacy, and human dignity.
Banerjie details three reasons why this judgment is unique. First, the judgement not only decriminalized same sex acts, but went above and beyond to recognize LGBTQIA+ members as equal rights-holding citizens who deserve a life free of persecution. Second, the judgment offered an expansive interpretation of the right to privacy. The court recognized Section 377’s unreasonable restriction on privacy and freedom of choice. Additionally, privacy was no longer only relevant in the private sphere; rather, the court recognized social privacy and...
By Guest Contributor So Yeon Kim*
“I have lived in South Korea as a ghost. I want to be acknowledged as a living person,” said Marina in her interview in Children That Exist but Don’t Exist. In contrast to her peers who were preparing for the college entrance exam, turning 18 did not mean one step towards her future; instead, it has been a cause of her anxiety. When she turns 19, she could get kicked out of South Korea where she was born, and be moved to Mongolia, the homeland of her parents but a foreign country to her. Marina is a stateless, undocumented migrant child in South Korea.
South Korea has seen a steady increase in the number of migrants that come to achieve the “Korean Dream” and migrants have become an integral part of the economy. South Korea also saw a deep increase in the number of asylum seekers since the implementation of its own domestic Refugee Act in...
By: Carina Goebelbecker, staff writer.
How can we put “care” back into health care? This was the central question posed by the “A Person-Centered and Compassionate Health Care System” zoom webinar on Friday, October 15th at 8:30am EST, organized by the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health as a part of their Centennial programming. Current Yusef Hamied Fellow Dr. Vikram Patel used personal experience, research on class division within the system, and medical data to highlight the ways in which India’s healthcare system is failing its people while proposing concrete solutions for a promising way forward.
Dr. Patel began the lecture with a story about his mother, who experienced intense mistreatment within India’s health care system over the course of more than fifty years until her death. Patel stated that through his mother’s encounters, he never came across “a physician who actually saw [his] mother as a person,” but rather viewed her as just a diagnosis. This lack of visibility is a...
By guest contributors Kanika Chugh* and Srishti Ray*
With the advent of COVID-19 we all turned to the safety of our homes and accepted the culture of work from home, but the daily wagers of the informal sector didn’t have that choice and were the worst hit. While the work for most of them resumed with several precautions once the lockdown ended, sex workers in Red Light Areas are still struggling to get their lives back on track.
On March 26, 2020 government of India announced Rs.1.7 lakh crore as a relief fund for migrant workers, rural and urban poor, and frontline health workers. There are over 800,000 sex workers in India who could not avail that benefit because sex work is not recognised as legitimate work in India. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on October 7, 2020, issued an advisory requesting that states recognise sex workers as informal workers for protection of their rights in the wake of COVID-19, but it...
By Philip Alexander, a law student at at the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.
In 2011, the Tohuku earthquake and tsunami destroyed three of the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) six nuclear power plants located in the Fukushima prefecture of Japan, resulting in the emission of several volatile radionuclides into the air and water. Recently, TEPCO announced the Japanese Government’s approval to dispose of 1.25 million tonnes of decontaminated radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean over the next two years. Presently, the wastewater is treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) operated by Toshiba and Hitachi General Nuclear Electric before disposal. The ALPS has been qualified as an inefficient method in treating radioactive waste as 72% of the water in storage tanks were required to be processed a second time. Additionally, researchers at the University of Nagoya found the presence of high quantities of Cesium-137 and Carbon-14 in the accumulated groundwater. The ALPS cannot filter Carbon-14, implying that the...