“There has been shameless overall apathy of the state agencies which, instead of upholding the rights of the survivor, had perpetuated the violence inflicted on them by inaction”
NEW DELHI — Eight Delhi-based women’s groups on Wednesday came together to commemorate the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, and to protest the grave lack of a systemic redress of the conditions that breed violence against women.
In a statement, the groups expressed their anger against the rising incidents of violence against women and the apathy of the Indian government and its machineries like the Police, National Commission of Women, and the state commissions of Women.
“This past year has seen a significant increase in violence against women and that there has been shameless overall apathy of the state agencies which, instead of upholding the rights of the survivor, had perpetuated the violence inflicted on them by inaction.
“In September, Hathras served as a gruesome reminder of the nature of sexual violence in India when a Dalit girl was brutally gang-raped, mutilated and strangled, eventually resulting in her death. The crime was reminiscent of Nirbhaya, Kathua and Khairlanji, to name a few. The forced cremation of her body and the veiled threats issued by officials of the Uttar Pradesh Police to the girl’s family for speaking to the media exposed the nexus of police and other state agencies with the perpetrators.
“Being denied dignity even in death is the bitter reality that we are standing up against today. The incident also exposed the complicity of police and other state agencies along the lines of caste and class hierarchy and their connivance in protecting the perpetrators of heinous crimes ensures compromise with the investigation process especially when the victims belong to Dalit and other socio-economically marginalised communities,” read the statement.
In Delhi, the eight women’s groups have been persistently witnessing the apathy and negligence of the local police with respect to complaints of sexual assaults and other forms of abuse reported by women and young girls. According to them, inexplicable delay or flat-out denial to file FIRs, lack of sensitive methods of investigation, failure to provide timely medical and legal aid, intimidation of survivor’s witnesses, etc. have intensified this past year.
“The ordinance on love jihad is the latest in the line of the Brahminical control over women and their agency to decide who they love and choose to be with. It’s a violation of personal liberty, which the government is trying to legalise through this process. Under the garb of protective measures, the Indian government is legalising the curbing of people’s personal liberties. We would urge the government to concern themselves with the actual causes of violence against women, instead of baseless Islamophobic ordinances designed to stir communal tensions.
“The phenomenon of lockdown/unlock restrictions has encouraged the ruling dispensation to slap cases and has been instrumental in persecuting women activists agencies to aggressively witch-hunt progressive women activists who have been at the forefront of the general attack on civil liberties and democratic rights under the garb of ‘sedition’ cases and draconian laws.
“For the vast majority of women belonging to the marginalised sections, the precariousness of living conditions has increased leaps and bounds due to systemic denial of basic entitlements during these ensuing months of the pandemic. The denial of basic healthcare, heightened indebtedness stemming from loss of livelihood and inadequate PDS services, lack of rent relief and compensatory wages for women of labouring poor backgrounds, has resulted in untold and persisting misery for them.”
The groups urged the government to take necessary action to ensure justice to the survivors, to hold its agencies accountable when they failed to deliver what they were set up for.
The following were the demands made by the groups to mark the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women observed all over the world every year on November 25:
- Prompt filing of complaints and launch of appended legal action by local police stations
- Full utilisation for the Nirbhaya Fund so as to increase the number of one-stop rape crisis centres in every district, enhance other rehabilitation services, etc.
- Regular consultation with women’s organisations on questions of policy initiatives, etc
- For fair trials, the creation of dedicated courts for cases pertaining to crimes against women
- Withdrawal of the love jihad ordinance in UP and stoppage of the process of any such law in other states
- Release of all women activists and students arrested for exercising their democratic right to dissent
- Repeal of UAPA
The statement was signed by Asha Sharma and Maimoona Mollah: All India Democratic Women’s Association; Ritu Kaushik and Sita Singh: All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan; Maya John, Centre for Struggling Women; Deepti Bharti and Aruna Sinha: National Federation of Indian Women; Poonam Kaushik, and Shobha: Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan; Sucharita: Purogami Mahila Sangathan; Anuradha Banerji and Sadhna Arya: Saheli, and Kusum Sehgal, Swastik Mahila Samiti.