Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pinkia Pramanik-the crime of a state

SreeNair | 12:10 AM | |

Pinky Pramanik a young girl who hails from Puroli district in West Bengal trumpeted as a heir to the legendary PT Usha was there, for all the good reasons ,in the news in 2006. She had a long list of laurels tagged to her name, a silver in 4x400m at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, gold at both the 2006 Asian Games in the same event and a special feat of triple gold medals at the 2006 SAF Games by winning the 400 and 800 meter events as well as the4x400 relay events. A hamstring injury in a road mishap was the time to call it a day and she retired three years ago.

Pinky’s gender is disputed. The poor girl ran barefooted in all her childhood, over-performed during the heats of the tournaments to the envy of her pesky colleagues. All along there was no dispute on her gender. Times Of India(TOI)quotes Mr Maitra ,General secretary of the West Bengal Athletic association as asserting that Pinki underwent many sex determination tests before international competitions and even while being recruited in the Railways. " She now needs a medical certificate to prove that she is a girl. She has been asked to assert her identity which includes establishing her womanhood.

The Baguihati police arrested her on June 14 on a falsely implicated rape case by the athlete's consensual live-in partner, a divorcee and a mother of one. She accused the athlete of being a male who repeatedly "raped and tortured" her. Consequently, a District Court in West Bengal on June 15 ordered her to two weeks judicial custody. A gender determination test was ordered on the athlete. The gender test conducted on June 20 was inconclusive as she was reported to have both male and female reproductive organs. It was a transgender case and the medical board requested the court to carry out two different tests (hormonal and chromosomal) on Pinki at the state-run SSKM hospital. Her chromosome pattern test report is expected to be submitted in the court shortly.

Ms Pramanik has been granted bail by the district and sessions court of the north 24-parganas on the bond of Rs. 5000 and was released after 26 days in a correctional home (West Bengal jail). The bail has been granted on the ground that IPC Section 376 (Punishment for rape) cannot be applied on her. Ms.Pinky Pramanik was suspended from Eastern Railway due to the allegations. Her suspension can only be revoked if the court absolves her of all the charges.

The trauma and the agony, the family had to endure was beyond description. And now, a video clip of her, naked, going through a verification test in a nursing home, has gone viral. The investigation of the charges had become an attack on her self hood. It is pathetic that a strong young girl who fiercely fought poverty and swarm across many odds to blaze the tracks is being treated so inhumanly by the state.

Durgacharan ,her father was quoted by TOI as saying that” As a father I was unfortunate enough to see my daughters nude clip. Hope someday truth will come out and the real guilty will be punished.” Civil rights activists have approached the State’s Human Rights Commission alleging Pramanik was being mistreated by the police. "Prima facie, it's a case of human rights violation. We are awaiting the reports," Justice Ganguly of the State’s Human Rights Commission said.

The treatment meted out to the athlete has attracted criticism from the sporting fraternity as well. "Male police officers have been escorting her and at times dragging her out from police vans. This is absolutely deplorable," former national women's swimming champion Bula Chowdhury was quoted as saying.

The scientific community is skeptical that the gender test is humiliating, socially insensitive, and prone to be inaccurate and ineffective. The testing is especially difficult in the case of people who could be considered intersexual as genetic differences can allow a person to have a male genetic make-up and female anatomy or body chemistry.

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Financial Express ( out a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which states among others "Gender verification tests are difficult, expensive, and potentially inaccurate. Furthermore, these tests fail to exclude all potential impostors (eg, some 46,XX males), are discriminatory against women with disorders of sexual development, and may have shattering consequences for athletes who 'fail' a test."

India’s Santhi Soundarajan, was diagnosed with androgen insensitivity syndrome, which meant she looked female, though her chromosomes said otherwise. The scrutiny, she said, left her “physically and mentally broken”. Many women athletes, including South Africa’s Caster Semenya and Brazil’s Edinanci Silva, have had similar trauma. Caster Semenya underwent sex-determination tests after her performance in the 800m race at the Berlin World Championship in 2009. Tests revealed that though Semenya had external female genitalia, she did not have ovaries or a uterus. She had three times the amount of testosterone present in an average female and, hence, an edge over competitors. Semenya though barred and humiliated she was subsequently cleared of the charges and was declared as a female by the IAAF.

Curiously enough another story is gaining ground that the whole episode of rape has been orchestrated on the behest of Avatar singh ,the husband of Jyothirmayi-Sikdar an MP turned women-athlete from Bengal. The Bengal Sports Minister Mr.Madan Misra alleges that Mr Singh had tried to usurp prime land allocated to sportsperson by the Left government in 2006, including Pramanik's three-cottah land off the E M Bypass. He also said Singh blackmailed and threatened these sports-persons. It was reported that Pinky was "coaxed" into giving the power of attorney for the land to another person. She was reportedly paid Rs 10 lakh for it and was promised an apartment in the building complex to be built on that land. But in the six years since, the land price shot up to nearly Rs 2 crore, resulting in demanding more money for the plot of land where Singh is building a highrise. Ms.Pinkys former co-habit ant confessed to the TOI "After a tiff over payments, Singh told me over phone we need to show the world Pinki is a male. The plan was to portray Pramanik as a fraud and pack her away to prison. "

The Pinki Pramanik controversy is not about her sporting credentials, but about whether she is guilty of rape. The state has over powered the self hood of its citizen. The police and the bureaucracy have inflicted much harm on the mental, physical and psychological well being of its own citizen by excoriating her in highly humiliating public spaces. Her privacy has been outraged. Whether or not she is guilty, the instruments of the state which have floundered the whole episode deserve the rap.

Ms.Pinki might be deprived of her medals. The suspension from the Railway department may continue. The ruminants of the surreal experience mercilessly consigned to her by the state will linger long with her. The bad people in the backyard may never poke their nose outward, but will behave more like a fox in a hen house, clandestinely playing out their astute business acumen. Yes, the din would die down!


  • Pinky reinstated

    Asian Games gold medalist Pinki Pramanik, who was accused of rape by a woman, has been reinstated by Eastern Railway. The athlete rejoined duty as a ticket collector at the Sealdah Station on Thursday.


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