Thousands of women from various sections of the society, especially working class women form various castes and communities, marched from Mandi House to Parliament Street in the national capital today amidst heavy rains to register their protest and discontent about the treatment and status of women especially in the Modi regime in the background of hate crime and violence, unemployment, hunger and more. The protest was organised by All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA). The women, who had gathered from not less than 23 states of the country wanted to draw the attention of the ‘nation’ to the “unprecedented rise in communal and other forms of violence against women and the denial of decent work and right to food under the Modi regime”.
They adopted a resolution to confront and change the state of affairs and said that they will not be silenced by the BJP-RSS promoted culture of fear and standing up for equality and basic rights enshrined in the Constitution.
Brinda Karat, the patron of AIDWA and leader of the women’s movement spoke on the challenges before women in the current political situation. The rally was presided over by Malini Bhattacharya (President) and was addressed by Subhashini Ali (Vice President) and Asha Sharma (Delhi State Secretary), among others. The Resolution of the rally was placed by Mariam Dhawale (General Secretary).
Men and women gave heart rending testimonies of the struggles for justice for victims of gender based violence. The Kathua victim’s lawyer Deepika Rajput shared her struggles about the professional abuse and political consequences she had to face in Kathua case. Similarly, Mahesh Singh Makkhi (the uncle of the Unnao victim and a petitioner in the case) talked about how he fears for his life and security of his family. The impact of social conservatism and the violence associated with it was narrated by Saroj (the mother in law of the honour killing victim) from Haryana. Cases of political violence and victimization were narrated by Swapna Ghosh of West Bengal and Vinita Choudhury from Tripura. The struggles on food security were narrated by Lahani Dauda from Maharashtra, whereas struggles on right to work were narrated by Santro from the Anganwadi Mothers’ group in Haryana, Poonam (a domestic worker from Noida, NCR) and MNREGA worker from Bihar.
AIDWA, in its note issued before the protest said, “The frightening regularity with which women and young girls are subjected to violence and abuse in various parts of the country, is a matter of serious concern. Gang-rape, abduction, physical and mental abuse, torture of various kinds, threats of killing and rape are not isolated incidents. Instead they are a part of the larger systemic problem. Concerted efforts have been made in the recent past by certain political groups to show women their ‘true place’. With the political patronage of the BJP-RSS, there has definitely been a spurt in the number and brutality of such incidents against women.”
Their note highlighted that though the prime agenda of the BJP in 2014 general elections was said to be ‘women’s safety’ the assault on women continued unabated.
The note drew attention to a report by the child rights NGO CRY in the month of April 2018 that had stated that a sexual offence is committed against a child in India every 15 minutes. The report had also drawn attention to the fact that almost 75,000 cases of the rape of women and children were registered in 2016. And that there has been an 82% spike in the rape of children from 2015 to 2016
Moreover, the note added, the Thompson Reuters Foundation report too ranked India the most dangerous country for women in terms of human trafficking, including sex slavery and domestic servitude, and for customary practices such as forced marriage, stoning and female infanticide.
It drew attention to the failures of the Modi regime in being able to fulfill all its promises, “The Modi regime promised two crore jobs per year, but has not provided jobs to even two lakh per year. In our country where more than 10 lakh job-seekers enter the job market every month, unemployment is at its highest, and women’s work participation rate is the lowest since Independence. 77 per cent of the households in the country have no regular wage/salaried person. According to the Labor Bureau, unemployment rate among the graduate youths (18 to 29 years) increased from 28 per cent to 35 per cent between 2014 and 2015. In addition, demonetisation has resulted in the loss of 90 lakh jobs between October 2016 and October 2017.”
Though the BJP government promised to control price rise but in fact prices of essential commodities are skyrocketing and the public distribution system is reportedly as per the reports coming in from all quarters. In fact the mandatory linkage of Aadhaar and the elimination of beneficiaries are resulting in starvation deaths.
Moreover, it said that the BJP and “fascistic” RSS have been unleashing terror by spreading caste and communal hatred and violence, with mob lynchings becoming “the order of the day”.
Not only this, that the extra-constitutional and self-appointed vigilante groups are having a free rein and roaming scot free after “killing people with impunity.” AIDWA accused that such people have received tacit support from their ‘political masters.’
Outlining these challenges, AIDWA had given the call for the protest today, on September 4 against increasing violence and brutality against women, especially girl children, growing unemployment, food security, the grim issue of starvation and malnutrition and the escalating communal and casteist attacks.
The rally was directed against the anti-women and anti-people policies of the BJP-RSS regime led by Modi.