Art and Indian Copyright Law: A Statutory Reading

A look at how the Indian Copyright Act, 1957, as amended in 2012, interacts with art (other than films and sound recordings), and, in particular, with Indian art. The first part of this text comprises a feminist and post-colonial reading of the Indian copyright statute while later parts focus on interpreting the provisions of the statute in relation to art.

22 April 2018

[Link] Rape and the Death Penalty

Over at Scroll, I argue that advocating the death penalty is not an appropriate response to rape, and it completely ignores our own role in facilitating not only rape but also other forms of abuse, all of which exist on a continuum. Although it's easily implementable, there's no convincing evidence that the death penalty will stem rape. It stinks of retribution, is always susceptible to irreversible error, disproportionately targets those without privilege, violates decency, and is expensive.
Rape is itself largely a manifestation of toxic masculinity. [....] Putting rapists to death, [the possibility of which may not deter them from committing rape], reeks of machismo and patriarchy. In a society that routinely creates the impression that women are destroyed by rape, death for rape simply realises the old norm of an eye for an eye. It is a form of retributive justice in an age when justice is meant to be reformative. [....] If we are to address rape, we need to develop legal processes to report and prosecute rape that are easy to navigate and which would increase the likelihood of rapists being held to account. We also need to interrogate social processes and challenge defences of abuse across the spectrum particularly within our own social circles. What we require is an alternative paradigm that is independent of toxic masculinity. We need to hold not just abusers to account but also those who support them and thereby facilitate abuse. That process, more often than not, will require us to begin by taking a long, hard look in the mirror.
Read the whole piece here.

(This note contains edited tweets and jumbled up extracts from the post at Scroll.)

18 April 2018

[Link] The (In)Effectiveness of Our Responses to Rape

We've developed a set of unchanging go-to responses we turn to whenever we're faced with a well-publicised case of rape. We ask for the death penalty to be meted out to rapists. We discuss the rape in intrusive detail claiming that doing so "raises awareness" against rape and awakens our social consciences. And we decide that we want sex offenders to be listed in a registry. Unfortunately, not one of these responses is guaranteed to enhance women's safety. To do that, "...we need the law to be enforced as a matter of course. This means focusing on improving the processes that could lead to the increased conviction of rapists instead."

15 April 2018

[Note] On Revealing the ID of the Child Raped in Kathua

The Delhi High Court, to the chagrin of some, seems to have come down quite strongly against the media disclosing the identity of the child who was raped and killed in Kathua.

Just to reiterate: we're talking of homicidal child rape in Kathua. Surely, we can't claim to 'need' to know the girl's identity or to 'need' to see pictures seemingly of her corpse in disarray before outrightly condemning the crime. If we do, and we further violate her privacy, what does that say of us?

The Delhi High Court's actions aren't a disaster for press freedom, and it's a challenge to see how such limited regulation could jeopardize future legal reportage. The court is only upholding the law, and trying to safeguard the privacy of a child as required by the law. 

Kathua aside, it's worth remembering that this isn't the first time when those allegedly raped have had their identities as well as images of themselves in disarray be revealed. Photographs of the women in Badaun who were allegedly raped, for example, were shared in a cavalier manner; their corpses hanging from trees, their faces not even always blurred.

This is an issue of both law and ethics, especially since the images of raped upper claste women tend not to be thus shared to 'awaken' our supposed social consciences. It doesn't make sense to claim one must reveal victim identity or explicit details of rape to convey the gravity of the crime: crimes against upper claste women are highlighted without such intrusive violations of privacy. In fact, a rape in 2012, where the Indian media did not go out of its way to reveal the identity of the woman raped, resulted in legislative change.

Perhaps we should focus on alleged perpetrators & their defenders instead. Instead of insisting that violating the privacy of some of those who have been raped is legitimate.

(An old piece on the law protecting the ID of women & girls who have been raped: here and, 'raising awareness' shouldn't need this or, IMO, explicit detail, as argued in Equity and the Reportage of Human Rights.)

(Edited & cross-posted from Twitter.)

Update on 19 April 2018: The case number in the Delhi High Court is W.P.(C) 3725/2018; Court on its own motion v. Union of India and Ors.  


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