Zulm, Zakhm, Azaadi … The Voices of Kashmiri Women
Today is sixty days of the clampdown in the Kashmiri Valley.
A four-member team from Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) (Kiran Shaheen, Nandini Rao, Pramodini Pradhan and Shivani Taneja) visited Kashmir Valley from September 23-28, 2019. The aim was to interact with people, especially women and children, to listen to their voices and understand the present conditions since the abrogation of Article 370 by the Indian government.
The team traveled across the districts of Srinagar, Shopian to the South and Kupwara and Baramullah to the North. We were able to speak to people of various walks of life – older and younger women stuck in their homes, school teachers, hospital functionaries, hawkers, scrap-dealers, roadside vendors, shopkeepers, orchard owners, taxi drivers, auto drivers, lawyers, journalists, activists and school and college students. We visited villages and mohallas as well as schools, courts and hospitals. The visits were made at random and were not guided by anyone. We consider the views we share as being fully independent. Continue reading
On 9 September 2007, Pardhidhana, a locality in Chouthiya village in southern Madhya Pradesh was razed to the ground by hundreds of local farmers. Several members of the state machinery, including the police and higher administration, stood by as men rampaged through Pardhidhana setting fire to the shanties and demolishing the pucca houses after looting them. Several politicians, including the sitting MLA of the region took an active part in the proceedings.
Within hours of the demolition, two sets of heinous crimes had occurred: in one, two people, Bhondru and Dodelbai of Pardhidhana were found murdered in cold blood, and eyewitnesses alleged the gang rape of Dodelbai as well; in another, ten women alleged that they had been held back when the police forcibly evacuated Pardhidhana before the demolition, and had subsequently been gang raped. While the murders of Dodelbai and Bhondru have been investigated, only one person has been charged with both the crimes!
Based on the fact finding and a close analysis of the CBI charge sheets, what emerges is a systematic mis-carriage of justice. Despite fair judgements by the High Court, the displaced Pardhis have been systematically impoverished. This report details the many ways in which this has occurred.
To get a copy of the report, click here
For a copy of the report in Hindi, click here
On 26th January last year, IPS officer Ankit Garg who was charged with sexual assault of Soni Sori, was conferred the President’s Police Medal of Gallantry. Conferring this award amounts not only to condoning the sexual torture inflicted on Ms Sori and the violence which is being perpetrated in the name of anti-Naxal operations, but actually encouraging it. Today, when the nation’s conscience is stirred by heinous sexual crimes committed against women and the government is promising zero tolerance for sexual crimes, what signal does a gallantry award to Ankit Garg give? At best it means that even the President’s office does not take too seriously the complaint of sexual assault of an adivasi woman, even after it has been independently verified by some of the nation’s best medical practitioners. At worst, it signifies that some sexual assaults are not only tolerated by the government, but also decorated.
A year on, the campaign to withdraw the medal continues. Below is a letter to the President of India, demanding for its withdrawal together with a signature campaign. Read on and join in!
The Justice Verma Commission constituted in the wake of the Delhi gang-rape to provide recommendations to the government for amending existing laws for ensuring speedier trials and enhanced punishment in cases of crimes against women, has interpreted its terms of reference widely to include connected areas such as gender justice, respect towards womanhood, and ancillary matters. In response to the Commission’s call to the public for suggestions, WSS has submitted the following recommendations which can be accessed as a pdf or in the following post.
WSS notes with concern that the entire public debate arising out of the recent Delhi gang rape incident has centered round the issues of “enacting a strong law” and “prescribing harsher sentence.” It has failed to recognize more basic issues – the enormous social obstacles encountered in registering complaints, in the conduct of thorough investigation, in the protection of witnesses, in fast and efficacious prosecution and in unbiased adjudication – in other words, the issues of implementation of the law, and the functioning of the police and judicial machinery – which necessarily precede sentencing. The debate has also largely failed to take into account the deeply patriarchal character of our social institutions, and law enforcement machinery which render women vulnerable to violence in the family, in the larger community, in their work places and public places. Continue reading
Responding to the call for action, people from around the country have raised their voices against police torture and sent postcards to Soni Sori, expressing their solidarity with her in her brave fight for justice.
Over the past year, Soni’s fight has become a symbol for thousands of mistreated women prisoners around the country. With over 1500 postcards sent, support for her cause is growing … Let us remind ourselves that Soni Sori is not the first, and certainly not the last, innocent adivasi woman to be falsely accused and tortured. It is therefore time for us to stand up against torture, sexual violence and state repression!
It has been one year since the arrest of 36-year old Soni Sori, an adivasi school warden from Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, and her custodial torture at the behest of the then SP of Dantewada, Ankit Garg. Soni Sori’s right to life and dignity have been violated by various jail and police authorities several times over – from foisting false cases against her, sexually torturing and humiliating her in the police station, denying her medical attention, and most recently, humiliating her by publicly stripping her in prison in the name of conducting physical search.
We approached the National Commission for Women on several occasions to take steps against Soni Sori’s custodial torture and continuing ill treatment. Every single instance of illegality by police and jail authorities was brought to the attention of the National Commission for Women (NCW). Soni Sori herself wrote to the NCW seeking their help. But all this has fallen on deaf ears.
The time is NOW !
get a postcard, write your message, post it, mobilise others to do the same