The Gender Beat: Finally, a CBI Probe for Dalit Student; Sexual Violence in Bastar

A round-up of what’s happening in the worlds of gender and sexuality

Women in Chhattisgarh. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Women in Chhattisgarh. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Finally, a CBI probe for dalit student

Family members of the 17-year-old dalit student who was raped and found dead in suspicious circumstances have been asking for a CBI probe, saying that they have no faith in the state police’s investigation. Police officers raised questions when they failed to videograph evidence when the student was discovered dead, and took her body away in a truck meant for garbage. Subsequently, they were criticised by rights groups for ruling out murder and claiming that she had committed suicide.

After a prolonged war of words between the ruling BJP-led state government and the Congress-led opposition, chief minister Vasundhara Raje finally recommended a CBI probe on April 19. The young student was found dead on March 30.

Targeting women in Bastar

A report by Divya Trivedi in Frontline covers the mass sexual violence, assault, and looting that paramilitary forces and the state police are accused of in Bastar. Villagers in Nendra, a village in the Bijapur district, say that security forces descended upon them for four days this January. The men of the village ran for their lives, and the women, children, and the elderly endured the brunt of the violence.

“During the day, they were out in the forests on “combing operations”, but by night and morning converted the village into their private fiefdom, sexually abusing over 15 women. The women were stripped, abused and raped at gunpoint, even when they tried to resist the theft of their livestock, a woman who was raped told Frontline. (…) All rapes were gang rapes,” says the report. Read the full report here.

Chandigarh is not banning short skirts in clubs, says home secretary

Anurag Aggarwal, the home secretary of Chandigarh, has dismissed claims that the union territory is banning mini skirts at its clubs. He says that the official policy was misreported in the media. However, this official policy still contains a number of ambiguous terms that read like they’re meant to impose a moral code on clubs. Permissions can be denied in case a committee finds “exhibition or advertisement of scantily clad women” and “indecency”, according to reports. Permission can also apparently be denied to clubs that are deemed to be “seditious and likely to excite political discontent.”

Transgender woman Islan Nettles’ killer sentenced to 12 years in prison

James Dixon, the US man who killed 21-year-old Islan Nettles, a transgender woman of colour, after finding out that she was not cisgender, has been sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for manslaughter. Dixon, 25, claimed he was overcome by fury when he realised that Nettles was trans, apparently because he had been “fooled” by a transgender woman a few days before. Dixon flirted with Nettles when they passed each other on the street in New York, and the encounter ended with Dixon giving Nettles a head injury so severe that it later killed her.

Nettles’ family is unhappy with the sentence, which they say is too lenient. Mic reported that 25 transgender women of colour have been murdered in the US since Nettles died two years ago.

Transgender people in Cambodia at higher risk of HIV infection

A 2012 survey published this month shows that transgender people in Cambodia are at six times greater risk of HIV infection as compared to the rest of the population, says a report in the Cambodia Daily.

The UNAIDS survey looked at 891 transpeople, who were all assigned male at birth, but identify as women or as non-binary.

Almost of the third of those interviewed reported being assaulted in the last six months, and over 50% said they’d experienced discrimination in the course of their lives.

Sex workers, transgender people in Namibia speak out against discrimination

In a rare meeting, a group of sex workers and transgender people spoke to Namibian politician Elma Dienda about the discrimination they face in their lives. Dienda was told by Nikodemus Aoxamub, an activist who accompanied the group, that sex worker rights need to be discussed in parliament, and that a colonial-era law that clamps down on sex workers needs to be struck down.

A New Era report said that Dienda responded that she may be outvoted on the issue in parliament, and asked the group to educate the general public on why sex workers’ rights are important, and to immediately request a meeting with the Parliament’s committee on gender equality.

The group also brought up issues of everyday discrimination against transpeople, including problems with getting basic medical care and employment.

Endo What?: a new film for endometriosis awareness

Endometriosis is a gynaecological disease with no known cause or cure, which affects millions of people worldwide, and which is often diagnosed very late because of many doctors’ dismissal of severe menstrual pain. Although some patients experience no symptoms, the condition can cause severe pain and a host of side effects that make daily functioning very difficult for many who suffer from it.

Endometriosis has been in the news lately because of more media coverage, and advocacy work by celebrity patients such as Padma Lakshmi. Now, filmmaker Shannon Cohn is making a documentary about the disease which “is still shrouded in myth and misunderstanding, even among healthcare professionals.” Healthcare providers are still telling patients that having a hysterectomy or getting pregnant are possible cures, both of which are erroneous, the Guardian reports.