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Keenan And Rueben’s Murder, Weak Eve Teasing Laws, And Mute Spectators

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By Ishaan Mukherjee:

A routine casual dinner with friends turned into a nightmare for Keenan Santoas and Rueben Fernandez on the 20th of October, 2011.

After dining with 5 other friends at the Amboli bar and restaurant, the group of 7, which included 3 girls, headed to a nearby paan shop at around 10:30 pm. A passer by and drunkard, later identified as Jitendra Rana passed cheap comments and rude remarks at the girls of the group and purposely made sexual advances towards Priyanka Fernandes, girlfriend of Keenan Santos.

(Extreme Right) Reuben Fernandez and (second from Left) Keenan Santos

Keenan and Rueben stood up for the girl’s safety and intervened, little did they know that it would bring their lives to an end. Rana left after a heated argument, threatening to kill them, only to return with some 20 odd men armed with sticks, knifes and rods.

Keenan and Rueben were stabbed to death by the men, as many Mumbaikars became mute spectators to the event. The incident reminds us of how easy it is for the anti-social elements of the society to over-power the common man, as the two brave hearts of Mumbai fought till there last breath just to stand against eve teasing by rowdies.

A few days back, it were Keenan and Rueben. Tomorrow it can be you and me.

Why do we live in fear at all? Do we really have to go through this?

Police, however, did manage to arrest the four main accused, who were then booked under IPC sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

It was only after the media pressure that all the 21 people who were part of the salvage killing were arrested. Even after the immediate arrest of the main accused, the question of justice being delivered still remains.

The case started with that of eve-teasing, however, none of the accused have been booked under charges of the same. India, having the bulkiest constitution and one the most detailed-interpreted law, there is no provision clearly stating eve-teasing as crime in India. Irony?

Eve teasing is a euphemism used in India and sometimes for public sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. Considered a problem related to delinquency in youth, it is a form of sexual aggression that ranges in severity from sexually suggestive remarks, brushing against a woman in public places and catcalls to outright groping. Sometimes it is referred to with a coy suggestion of innocent fun, making it appear innocuous with no resulting liability on the part of the perpetrator. Many feminists and volunteer organizations have suggested that the expression be replaced by a more appropriate term. According to them, considering the semantic roots of the term in Indian English, Eve teasing refers to the temptress nature of Eve, placing responsibility on the woman as a tease, as though the aggressive response of the males was normal rather than criminal.

We have over 1000’s of sections explaining various acts for entertainment, tax property etc., but not even one section stating eve-teasing which is a serious menace in our society. However, Section 298 (A) and (B) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sentences a man found guilty of making a girl or woman the target of obscene gestures, remarks, songs or recitation to a maximum jail sentence of three months. Section 292 of the IPC clearly spells out that showing pornographic or obscene pictures, books or slips to a woman or girl draws a fine of Rs. 2000 with two years of rigorous imprisonment for the first offender. For a crime as heinous as eve-teasing, which can leave a psychological scar in a victim’s mind, a minimum of 6 months sentence behind the bars should be a must, without eve-teasing being a bailable offence, which it currently is.

India and the youth – we need a wake up to the death of Keenan and Rueben, and realize that it is worse than we thought.

It’s time to amend the Indian Penal Code which defines the various criminal acts. Let’s not let people like Rana take innocent lives who fight for what is right. The first step is to stop being a mute spectator. I am ready to fight, are you?

You must be to comment.
  1. wendy silveira

    Im born and brought up in mumbai, working in uae. such news is a shocker we have so much of security and respect for women in uae, the law and police take strict action against such eve teasers the brutual murder of keenan and ruben is a shame for the indian government, the goons must not get away so easily, PM must take strict action is it not a question of justice but aslo security of a common man living in India. The police must be made available 24 /7 in all metro and most popular places there are women who leave work at 10:30pm what is the security for such women. Even in croweded buses they snibble their hands all over and we cant do much. This is a sensitive issue that needs a rule and regulation passed for the security and safety of people. It is the duty of the PM and the state minister to ensure that such goons must not get away with ease and we minimise such tragic dead of two brave youths in the future. It is my humble request to the government of India to hang the goons to death. And have introduce liquor permit system in India to erradicate the cheap illegal alcohol bars and restaurants. Secondly to pass a law or a canon for safety and security of women. 24/7 Police security in crowded and in each metro areas. We need government of India to safeguard the citizens from such goons and to punish such goons without any mercy. Condolences to the family of Keenan and Ruben. Anna Hazare where are you please take our requests boldly we need action and security in whole of India.

  2. venecia dsouza

    we need the indian government to react and not just lay the case over and delay. The Facts and evidence are all present rather than just having such goons get away of their sinful and awful act. It is time to create protection plan for the security of women of indian and also the younger youths. Hiring more police and special force in all areas of the regions and cities. Banning of cheap bars and restaurants. Introducing liquor permit systems

    We have already began losing truth and faith in the indian government, the corruption level has never dropped and we are being taxed for what we dont get even security to move freely with friends. Keenan and Ruben had to even sacrifice their lives is a murder of two innocent youths so easy in India, why do we leave the country and seek security, better life else where simply bcoz its a shame to live in India with so much of crimes and goons around and no security for women. We live in fear each and every day in Mumbai , even the terrorist attacks have pervailed and things are just getting from bad to worse. PM and state minister please react and grant severe punishment to the goons and imposed new legislations for the security of women and youths.

  3. sonam mittal

    this is very shamful for our youth . i know about this story from crime petrol . this story is shoching me . i feel very bad for those mans family
    but then if we wake up then the country wake up so say no to eve teasing

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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