The Gender Beat: Mobile Phone Panic Button Rule Introduced; Amnesty Condemns Killing of LGBT Magazine Editor

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

Xulhaz Mannan, pictured on the left, was murdered on April 25.

Xulhaz Mannan, pictured on the left, was murdered on April 25.

Mobile phone panic button rule introduced in India

All phones sold in India from January 1, 2017, need to have a panic button and those sold from January 1, 2018, must have built-in Global Positioning Systems (GPS), according to reports.

Union Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, said he has introduced these measures in order to enhance the security of women.

Amnesty International condemns Bangladesh’s failure to curb ‘brutal killing spree’

Amnesty International has strongly criticised government inaction after the murder of the senior editor of Roopban, an LGBT magazine in Bangladesh. Xulhaz Mannan and one other employee of the magazine were killed. The rights group also condemned other similar killings in the country in recent years.

“The brutal killing today of an editor of an LGBTI publication and his friend, days after a university professor was hacked to death, underscores the appalling lack of protection being afforded to a range of peaceful activists in the country,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia director.

“There have been four deplorable killings so far this month alone. It is shocking that no one has been held to account for these horrific attacks and that almost no protection has been given to threatened members of civil society. Bangladeshi authorities have a legal responsibility to protect and respect the right to life. They must urgently focus their energies on protecting those who express their opinions bravely and without violence, and bringing the killers to justice. The authorities must strongly condemn these horrific attacks, something they have failed to do so far.”

The first such attack happened in 2013. In 2015, five secular bloggers were murdered using machetes. Amnesty International says that “not a single person has been held to account” about the killings that have happened since February last year.

Are you associating menstruation with impurity, SC asks Sabarimala trust

On April 25, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra asked the Sabrimala temple trust whether it associates menstruation with purity. The ongoing legal battle is against a ban on menstruating women entering the temple. The bench asked whether a biological phenomenon could be a reason to bar women’s entry. The hearing will continue on May 2.


RSS must admit women, says Trupti Desai

Trupti Desai, the leader of the Bhumata Brigade, which has been campaigning for women’s right to enter places of worship said that the all-male Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) should admit women. “The Bharatiya Janata Party was elected to power on the basis of women’s votes. Women should be allowed to join the RSS to which the BJP is affiliated,” she said, according to a report in the Hindustan Times. Kanta Nalawade, the vice president of the BJP’s Maharashtra unit was quick to dismiss Desai’s demand, calling them “ridiculous”.

Elderly woman stripped, tortured in Uttar Pradesh

A 60-year-old woman in a village in the Lakhimpur Kheri district of Uttar Pradesh was stripped and tortured after her son eloped with a woman. It was only after her husband ran for help that the torture stopped, say reports. The assailants are allegedly the family members of the woman that the victim’s son eloped with. The two families reside in the same village.

Three weeks on, Dalit rape case accused still at large

Police are yet to arrest two men who are accused of raping a Dalit woman in the town of Malout in Muktsar, Punjab, says a Times of India report.  The woman has named the two accused in a complaint she filed on April 2.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes had summoned two senior police officials over inaction on two rape cases filed by Dalit women. While one of the accused has been arrested in connection with one case, this case has still not moved forward.

‘What you’re wearing is inappropriate’: Bengaluru woman slut-shamed by moral policing auto driver

A Bengaluru-based woman, Aishwarya Subramaniam, was told by the man driving the auto-rickshaw that she was dressed ‘inappropriately.’ The man was so confident that most people would agree with his views that he reportedly gave Subramaniam his consent to put up his pictures on the internet. He said that she was “dressed like a slut”. Subramaniam’s post has been shared over 1,000 times on Facebook.

Photo essay: Hayat Bakshi Begum – the hand of the king, three times over

The News Minute has published a photo essay chronicling the life of Hayat Bakshi Begum, who was born to the fifth sultan of Golconda, Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. She grew up to be extremely influential, first as the queen whose counsel was heeded by the king, and then as Queen Mother to his successor, their 12-year-old son. She subsequently forged a political alliance with Aurangzeb. The essay has photographs of important monuments connected with Hayat Bakshi Begum’s life, including a mosque she commissioned to be built and her tomb.