December 10 and 11, 2015 New Delhi
The inspiration for the seminar “Resisting Caste and Patriarchy : Building Alliances” came from an initiative that started in 2013-2014, when members of WSS made a series of visits to villages in several districts of Haryana to investigate reports of sexual assaults and killings of Dalit girls. The team met and interviewed many of the survivors and their families. Intensive discussions with a team of young Dalit lawyers and activists provided additional insights into the situation. In the course of internal discussions that followed, members of WSS tried to articulate the gaps and grey areas in feminist debates on caste and patriarchy, and draw on lessons from the histories of engagement with questions of caste and gender by and within different mass movements and women’s movements.
Seminar report at WSS Seminar Resisting Caste and Patriarchy 10-11th Dec 2015 Final Report
It was obvious that the disappearance of “annihilation of caste” from the agenda of contemporary movements was an inevitable consequence of the marginalisation of Dalit women in political struggles and social processes. Thus, complex issues arising from Dalit women’s labour in various relations of production have been reduced to the question of choice or coercion in sex work, with little exploration of the ways in which caste, class and patriarchy have worked together to exploit and stigmatise dalit women across the spectrum of work and labour relations.
Progressive groups and social movements across the spectrum are struggling with uncertainty and lack of clarity on advancing the agenda of annihilation of caste in the context of changing land and labour relations, neo-liberal capitalism, the appropriation of natural resources, increasing state violence and the dominance of Hindutva. The decision to organise a national seminar around these issues was taken at the WSS annual meeting in Lucknow in 2015.
The main objective of organising this National Seminar on Caste and Patriarchy was to strengthen our dialogues and alliances around Babasaheb Ambedkar’s foundational insight – that the annihilation of caste cannot be fulfilled without the annihilation of patriarchy. The objective was also to explore the question of how our struggles against patriarchy, caste and religious orthodoxy could draw from Ambedkar’s legacy to redefine feminism in the Indian context. Our effort was to create a space to explore and discuss questions around re-framing our perspectives on the intersections of caste and patriarchy with structural inequalities so as to take on the challenge of annihilation of caste.
Soni Sori, the adivasi leader from Chhattisgarh addresses students from JNU connecting their struggle with the struggle of the adivasis in Chhattisgarh. Elaborating of the challenges that the adivasis face, Soni emphasis the need for freedom of her people to be in their forests, lands, fields and homes. Under the garb of fighting naxalism the state has been systematically killing adivasis who have populated the land for generations so it can have their jal, jungle zameen. Anyone who raises a question about the unconstitutional way in which the forces and police are carrying out their operations is targeted. She also explains the fake encounter of Mardam which was the reason for her being attacked
10-11 DECEMBER 2015
Savitri Bai Phule, Jyotiba Phule, B R Ambedkar and ER Periyar were among the first to show how upper caste maintains its dominance through the structures of marriage and family to uphold Brahmanical hegemony and keep women in a subordinate position. The struggle against patriarchy and religious orthodoxy is yet to draw substantially from this legacy to redefine feminism in the Indian context.
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) would like to discuss what people’s movements and democratic movements, especially the women’s movement, have to say in relation to the “annihilation of caste” in the context of both work and vision in contemporary times. WSS invites you to this two-day seminar that will be addressed by activists, writers and academics.
Kindly keep yourselves free to attend this seminar as your participation is invaluable to us all in WSS, Delhi. We will send more details very soon.
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression
“To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.”
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) would like to place on record its views on the recent suicide of Dr. Khurshid Anwar, Director Institute for Social Democracy, a Delhi-based NGO. Dr Anwar had been accused of rape by a 25-year old woman in September 2013. He committed suicide on 18 December 2013, following a campaign against him on social media and TV channels and the lodging of an FIR just a day before his death.
We are dismayed and deeply concerned at the content and tone of the discussions on Dr Anwar’s death in social media and in various public forums, where aspersions have been cast on the complainant. Questions have also been raised about the role of feminists who have stood by the complainant and upheld the feminist principles evolved in the course of the long and ongoing struggle against sexual violence in our patriarchal and misogynistic society.
Addressing the Chief Minister of Delhi, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), strongly condemned the racial profiling, sexual violence and vigilantism by AAP against the Ugandan women and have demanded Somnath Bharti’s resignation; judicial probe to identify the perpetrators of the violence & punitive, lawful action against them; and compensation for the Ugandian women among other demands.
Shri Arvind Kejriwal
Chief Minister, Govt. of Delhi
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression strongly condemns the illegal raid conducted by the AAP cabinet law minister, Somnath Bharti and his mob of supporters, on the premises of the Ugandan women on 17th January 2014 residing in Khidki village, New Delhi.