June 12, 2014


Woman says she was attacked at a police station in Uttar Pradesh after going there to seek her husband's release

Agence France-Press in Lucknow

A protest in Kolkata against rape after a string of violent attacks in India. 
Photograph: Piyal Adhikary/EPA
An Indian woman has said she was gang-raped by four officers at a police station, the latest in a string of sex attacks in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The woman said she was attacked when she went to the station overnight on Monday in the Hamirpur district to seek her husband's release.
"At 11.30pm when there was no one in the room the sub-inspector took me to his room and raped me inside the police station," the woman told CNN-IBN.
She filed a complaint with a senior officer on Wednesday over the attack, which allegedly occurred when she refused to pay a bribe to secure the release of her husband. Virendra Kumar Shekhar, a police official from Hamirpur, said: "The procedure will be followed. The victim has filed a complaint and the guilty will be arrested soon."
Sub-inspector Balbir Singh said a criminal case had been lodged against four officers from the station.
The case is the latest in a string of rapes and murders in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, where the chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, is under growing political pressure over his handling of law and order.

Last month, two girls, aged 12 and 14, were gang-raped and lynched in their village. They were attacked after going into a field to relieve themselves at night because they did not have a lavatory at home.
Their families refused to cut the bodies down from the tree for hours in protest, saying police had failed to take action against the attackers because the girls were from a low caste.

The prime minister, Narendra Modi, , in his first comments on the issue since the hanging of the girls sparked public outrage, on Wednesday urged all politicians to work together to protect women. Modi warned politicians against "politicising rape", saying they were "playing with the dignity of women" in his first speech to parliament since sweeping to power at last month's election.

India brought in tougher laws last year against sexual offenders after the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, but they have failed to stem the tide of violence against women.

Also on Wednesday, a 45-year-old woman was found hanging from a tree in Uttar Pradesh. Her family said she had been raped and murdered. A police officer said five men were being questioned over the incident, which occurred several kilometres from her home in Bahraich district. "They [her husband and son] have alleged that the woman, before being strung up from the tree, was raped and murdered by these men," the district superintendent Happy Guptan told AFP.
View from streets of Brazil's largest city confirms what many fear: tournament simply illuminates gulf between rich and poor

By Owen Gibson

From a hillside above traffic-choked São Paulo, the residents of the Copa do Povo (People's Cup) flash camp can see the gleaming £180m stadium that will host the opening match of the 2014 World Cup. Despite the Brazilian flag fluttering over the makeshift tents, the camp organiser, Helena Santos, says the stadium might as well be on the moon.
"Most people here are revolted. No one wants to see the games. There's no excitement here," she says, looking across to the Arena de São Paulo, which was supposed to have been a catalyst for the regeneration of the Itaquerao area.
The final touches are being put to the stadium. Sponsors have begun "activating" their £890m investment – Visa cash machines have been installed alongside Coca-Cola fridges and bars serving Budweiser. But with no sign of other promised infrastructure upgrades in the area many residents are merely furious that they can't pass freely through the surrounding streets.
To them, it is just another symbol of what the Movimento do Trabalhadores Sem Teto(the homeless workers' movement MTST) calls the "tyranny" and "terrorism" of Fifa.

"If it wasn't for us, all anybody in Brazil would see is Fifa," says Gianna, busy organising the kitchen rota to feed some of the camp's 5,000 residents. "We don't have hospitals, we don't have schools. But we have stadiums. Lots of stadiums."

Inside, the Brazilian national football team trained on the pitch where they will play Croatia for the first time. In front of a huge media scrum, the pressure on the slender shoulders of Neymar and his teammates became clear.
At the Fifa Congress, in a heavily guarded conference centre, the embattled Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, shrugged off corruption claims and insisted his organisation was "shaping society". Brazil's executive committee member José Maria Marin declared that the "party is about to begin", promising an "unforgettable" World Cup that would be the "best of all time".
In central São Paulo, Blatter has been gliding through the gridlock with a police escort, shuttling between five-star hotels as he tries to shore up support for his bid for a fifth presidential term amid a new avalanche of corruption claims.
Greg Dyke, the FA chairman who landed in São Paulo and walked straight into a storm over Blatter's claims that the British media was "racist" for investigating how Qatar was elected to host the 2022 World Cup, was not the only one struck by the lack of hoopla in a city that is football mad and hosts Brazil's World Cup opener on Thursday.
Billboards are banned, so Fifa's sponsors have been unable to festoon the city with adverts. Public proclamations of support are few, although more flags were starting to sprout from balconies and car aerials on Wednesday. The contrast with the tens of thousands who mobbed central Johannesburg, honking on vuvuzelas, before kick-off at the last World Cup, is stark.
Back at the shanty town that organisers claim houses 5,000 homeless workers, 27-year-old Adeilson Freitas is leaning on the counter of a makeshift kitchen block and painstakingly filing sick notes from those unable to attend a recent demonstration.
"We don't mind having foreigners here, in fact the idea of a World Cup is quite good. But this one is not for Brazilians," said Freitas, who says he avidly followed Brazil's progress in previous campaigns but will only tune in to this one "if I'm not busy". " Perhaps it would have been a good idea to have it in 2034, when it could be organised properly," he says.
The World Cup, which has seen costs soar to more than £6.5bn as the Brazilian government has raced to complete promised infrastructure, has become both a focal point for demands for basic amenities and a symbol of Brazil's inequality.
The Copa do Povo camp was set up around a month ago to focus attention on the plight of those forced out of their homes by real estate speculators, who campaigners claim have more than tripled rents in the area around the stadium. The camp occupies a corner of land owned by a construction company that went bankrupt. A maze of makeshift tents constructed from plastic sheeting and wooden poles, it is one of 14 that have sprung up around São Paulo alone – one houses 8,000 families, according to Santos, who describes herself as a "mum Che Guevara", juggling looking after five children with organising the camp.
She accepts the World Cup has brought the issues faced by Brazil's landless and homeless to the eyes of the world. "It helped because it brought the focus. You had the stadium being built here and you had the World Cup happening and just a few metres away you had people living like this. So it helped in a certain way," she admits.The traffic jams snaking down São Paulo's clogged arteries have become the least of Fifa's worries. Yet Corinthians fans, one of Brazil's biggest clubs yet without a permanent home, have welcomed the public money that has been invested in the new stadium. Like many things about this World Cup, it is a complex brew.
Both for the homeless workers setting up protest camps and the burgeoning middle class struggling to pay for education and healthcare, a range of pressing issues have been bound up in a distaste for Fifa, the corporate world and the corruption of their own football officials. The city's 11m residents are used to the hellish traffic and the helicopters queuing to deliver the city's super rich. "The World Cup is for those in helicopters," laughs one of the camp residents.
Despite the cramped conditions, the camp is safe and clean. Each plastic sheet bears a number and the name of a family, and a strict register is kept of who is in the camp and who attends demonstrations.
In the Grand Hyatt, where most Fifa executive committee members are staying, officials have vainly battled to launch a PR counter-offensive to salvage Fifa's battered reputation, but the MTST has been mobilising a far more effective campaign. It has paid off. The federal government, the government of São Paulo and the city of São Paulo this week agreed to build 4,000 affordable homes on the site as an extension of President Dilma Rousseff's social housing programme, Minha Casa, Minha Vida (My House, My Life).

"The economic boom was only for the big businesses and the banks," says Santos. "Here, our salaries aren't increasing, we don't have places to live, we don't have clothes to wear. Now we've got this victory here, we can go to other camps and get a similar result."
In the camp, a big fiesta was planned for Wednesday night – not to celebrate the start of the World Cup opener but their success in negotiating the housing deal.
Above the warren of fluttering plastic and muddy pathways, the Brazilian flag flies alongside the red one of the MTST.