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Archive for August, 2010

Wanted: Gender-neutral laws

Posted by iluvshrutiverma on August 16, 2010

If women like Uma Challa had their way, they would change all gender-biased laws that exist in India today, including Section 498A of the IPC or the dowry law.

The draft Bill on Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace may be ready, but some women actually think it is heavily biased against men. If women like Uma Challa had their way, they would change all gender-biased laws that exist in India today, including Section 498A of the IPC or the dowry law. Challa argues that the dowry law is being misused by many women to harass their husbands and in-laws.

Hyderabad-based Challa launched a forum called All India Forgotten Women, under the aegis of Save Indian Family Foundation (SIFF) in 2005, in response to the “large-scale arrests of women falsely accused under Section 498A IPC”.

The draft Bill on sexual harassment at the workplace, she says, does not have provisions to protect men from similar harassment at the workplace and it thus undermines the Indian Constitution, which states that men and women have the same right to equality and life.

“The Bill and its architects undermine the basic truth that sexual harassment is neither about sex nor gender. It is about power, and a woman in power can be every bit as abusive as a man,” Challa says.

“The Bill requires that committees for redressing grievances consist of persons `committed to the cause of women’. If committees are filled with individuals committed to the cause of women and not to the cause of truth, law and justice, is it hard to foretell the fate of males in an institution or in society as a whole,” she asks.

Challa, who is also president of The All India Men’s Welfare Association, says the Bill contains provisions for `conciliation’ and `settlement’ between the `aggrieved’ woman and the respondent. If `conciliation’ happens and `settlement’ is arrived at, no further inquiry will be conducted. If, however, the terms and conditions of `conciliation’ and `settlement’ are not met by the accused, an inquiry will be conducted.

“When sexual harassment at the workplace is considered a grievous crime which warrants a special and stringent law, what is the purpose of having a `conciliation’ and `settlement’ plan? In what way is this law different from the dowry law, which is being used as a weapon of extortion,” she asks.

She says countries around the world, including the USA, the UK and all member countries of the European Union, have gender-neutral sexual harassment prevention laws. “Even Pakistan, which passed a similar Bill in January 2010, embraced the principle of gender neutrality,” she adds.

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Man forced to marry girlfriend

Posted by iluvshrutiverma on August 14, 2010

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Women account for 30% liquor customers

Posted by iluvshrutiverma on August 9, 2010

CHENNAI/BANGALORE: It’s 7 pm on a Friday and on her way back from office, Harini Mathur Singh, 29, makes a pit stop at the Spencer’s store on Bangalore’s M G Road. In her trolley: potato chips, salted peanuts, microwave popcorn, two bottles of Shiraz, vodka and a few cans of beer. “It’s girls’ night at my place today,” said the HR professional at an IT company. “My friends are coming over and we unwind over movies and drinks.”

Women today account for almost 30% of liquor customers at the 15 Spencer’s stores across the country. Their pick: wines and white spirits. “In the past year alone, we have seen a growth of 40% in women buying liquor from our stores,” said Mohit Kampani, V-P (merchandising, food and FMCG) of RPG Retail, which runs the Spencer’s chain.

A dipstick survey of traditional liquor outlets by AZ Research Partners, a marketing consultancy firm, revealed that female buyers were literally non-existent. Not surprising, since at non-department liquor outlets women are at risk of being stared down and teased. With the advent of branded liquor retail stores and dedicated liquor counters at supermarkets, the number of women buyers has increased to 10-12%, over the past few years.

There were only a few standalone stores like Not Just Wine and Cheese that offered liquor in premium ambience, while only an odd store like Thoms sold alcoholic beverages alongside groceries and bakery products in Bangalore. Now, more like FoodWorld Gourmet and United Breweries’ Spiritz & More are joining the fray.

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