Afghan MPs block divisive women’s rights law #WTFnews


Legislation was approved by President Karzai in 2009, but stalled by conservative MPs who deemed it un-Islamic.

Last Modified: 18 May 2013 14:27

President Hamid Karzai approved the law by decree in 2009, but it needs parliamentary approval [Reuters]
Afghanistan’s parliament has failed to pass a law banning violence against women, a severe blow to progress made in women’s rights since the Taliban was toppled over a decade ago.

President Hamid Karzai approved the law by decree in 2009 and parliament’s endorsement was required. But a rift between conservative and more secular members of the assembly resulted in debate being deferred to a later date.

Religious members objected to at least eight articles in the legislation, including keeping the legal age for women to marry at 16, the existence of shelters for domestic abuse victims and the halving of the number of wives permitted to two.

“Today, the parliamentarians who oppose women’s development, women’s rights and the success of women…made their voices loud and clear,” Fawzia Koofi, head of parliament’s women’s commission, told Reuters on Saturday.

Women have won back the hard-fought right to education and work since the Taliban was toppled 12 years ago, but there are fears these freedoms could shrink once NATO-led forces leave Afghanistan by the end of next year.

Increasing insecurity is deterring some women from seeking work outside the home, and rights workers accuse the government of doing too little to protect women – allegations rejected by Karzai’s administration.

“2014 is coming, change is coming, and the future of women in this country is uncertain. A new president will come and if he doesn’t take women’s rights seriously he can change the decree,” Koofi said.

The election for a new president is expected to be held in April 2014. The constitution bars Karzai from running again.

‘Morally corrupt’

After almost two hours of clashes between Koofi and the more religious members of the 244-member parliament, speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the assembly would consider the law again at a later date, but declined to say when.

Some members sought amendments, such as longer prison terms for crimes committed against women, such as beating and rape.

Many legislators, most of them male, cited violations of Islamic law.

“It is wrong that a woman and man cannot marry off their child until she is 16,” said Obaidullah Barekzai, a member from southeast Uruzgan province, where female literacy rates are among the lowest in the country.

An Afghan man must be at least 18 years old to marry.

Barekzai argued against all age limits for women, citing historical figure Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq, a close companion of the Prophet Muhammad, who married off his daughter at age seven.

At least eight other legislators, mostly from the Ulema Council, a government-appointed body of clerics, joined him in decrying the law as un-Islamic.

Abdul Sattar Khawasi, member for Kapisa province, called women’s shelters “morally corrupt”. Justice Minister Habibullah Ghaleb last year dismissed them as houses of “prostitution and immorality”, provoking fierce condemnation from women’s groups.

 

Equality fight in an unequal world #Feminisn #bookreview #SundayReading


By Deepti Menon, New Indian Express

12th May 2013 12:00 AM

  • Protests by women fighting for their rights have been part of a long history of feminist struggle.
    Protests by women fighting for their rights have been part of a long history of feminist struggle.

Feminism is not being part of an organisation; rather it takes inspiration from past heroines, aiding women to feel a continued responsibility, explains Nivedita Menon’s Seeing Like a Feminist. The title is inspired by James Scott’s Seeing Like a State, where the state “seeing” is all powerful, compared to the marginal position of the feminist.

This is a book about women and patriarchy, and about how the feminist views the operation of gendered modes of power. It is divided into six chapters, which deal with vital, interrelated themes.

Efforts have always been made to shield the institution of the patriarchal heterosexual family. Couples who choose inappropriate marriage partners come under the scanner. Women have been relegated to domestic work, which is less valued and unpaid, despite the Equal Remuneration Act of 1976. Domestic work is more demeaning and exhausting than that of a sex worker, probably why 71% of ‘servants’ have moved voluntarily to sex work.

In North India, a woman has no rights in her natal home after she moves to her husband’s home. In Kerala, only vestiges of the matrilineal system are seen. The Hindu Code Bills empowered Hindu women to choose their partners, and marry outside their caste. The Hindu Women’s Right to Property gave widows rights to their husband’s property, but the Hindu Succession Act nullified the position of daughters under matrilineal laws, by granting equal inheritance rights to sons. The three interlinked features of the Indian family are patriarchy, patriliny and vivilocality.

Dowry has spread its tentacles almost everywhere, as women go to their husband’s homes to survive with limited rights, despite the Dowry Prohibition Act which deems both giver and taker guilty. Women, right from childhood, prepare for marriage, which sometimes leads to the ‘implosion of marriage’, when young girls refuse to conform to docile roles of wife and daughter-in-law. The author avers that feminists need to build up the strength to live in ways in which marriage is voluntary, and create alternate non-marriage communities.

In ancient times, the universality of gender as a social category was challenged in African and the North American countries, and even in the lives of the Bhakti saints. But the creation of a distinction between sex and gender is intrinsic to feminism, as from childhood onwards, girls and boys pick up gender-specific forms of behaviour, training to conform to set roles.

In the 1990s, the media began airing sexually explicit images, through cable and television channels. Questions on homosexuality and issues revolving around the civil liberties of eunuchs, bisexual and transgendered people have all been viewed through the lens of the feminist here.

Patriarchal forces call rape a blot against family honour, while feminists denounce it as a crime against a woman’s bodily integrity. The Pink Chaddi protest was a non-violent gesture of ridicule against intolerance. The modern slut walks are the latest chapter in a long, powerful history of inspirational feminist struggle.

Caste politics and patriarchy have stalled the passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill to reserve 33% of seats in Parliament for women.

There is mention of the commoditisation of the female body, through advertisements showing scantily clad bodies and pornography. Feminists expose how this outlook can be transformed by thinking of women as consumers instead of victims.

Pregnancy and child bearing are the sole responsibility of the woman. The ideal feminist world is one in which women can control when and under what circumstances they deliver their children. Sexual harassment charges against celebrities, the ban of the veil in France, forcing women badminton players to wear skirts and queer politics have all been touched upon in this revealing book.

Thus, for Nivedita Menon, feminism is not about one triumphant moment against patriarchy, but about the ongoing shift that enables young women to say, “I believe in equal rights for women, but I’m not a feminist.” Many new positions, energies and challenges have transformed the feminist field over the years, and this book takes a bold look at these.

“It comes slowly, slowly, feminism does. But it just keeps on coming!”

 

Women are not outsiders in Dargahs #discrimination #Religion


Syeda Hameed | November 10, 2012, Times Crest

 

 

MYTH MAKING: 'La ikra fiddin', the revolutionary Quranic verse, says that there is no compulsion in religion

Men and women perform the ‘tawaaf‘ together at the Kaaba during Haj. Why then is there a debate over women’s rights to worship in the sanctum of dargahs?

The issue of women not being allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum in dargahs is nothing new. It has been raised over ages in many parts of the world. But it is now time it is challenged and challenged on the very ground on which it has been imposed.

I have been turned away from the astana many times. The simplest question to ask is this: would the Sufi saints whose remains are buried in the astana and whose creed embraced all regardless of caste, creed, sex or even religion, ever condone that a woman is forbidden to recite the Fatiha at their grave? The answer is a resounding ‘No’.

The fact that Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan has raised this issue with widespread political support is commendable. If you want to be enlightened about the spirit of Islam, dear reader, read on. If your mind is closed, stop here.
My study of the Quran the Sunnah and the Hadith has given me the confidence to claim before the world that Islam gives equal rights and status to women along with men. In pre-Islamic Arabia there was a time when the birth of a girl brought such shame that the child was placed in her living grave. This practice was prevalent then and is not unknown today in many other forms. At that time the new religion which was revealed (Islam), gave property rights to women and girls. Here begins the story of a woman’s place in Islam;a story that the gatekeepers and so-called custodians of Islam continuously abuse by issuing false and damaging fatwas. These are placed on a religion that was the first to require that women when they earn, have a right to spend their earning as they wish. How many of these custodians of Islam even know this? And how cleverly those who do know it, conceal it.

Gyanvapi Masjid in Varansi, Hazratbal in Sirinagar, Nizamuddin Auliya in Delhi, Kalyar Sharif in Roorkee, Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer;are a few dargahs that have restrained my movements. In Srinagar I was with a group of women of all faiths. When we were prevented from entering the shrine and asked to do the tawaaf (circumabulation) ‘outside’, I protested before the guards. I asked my host family, who are among the most respected, devout people in Kashmir, why this happened. They were shocked;they had never heard of these restrictions.

The arguments raised by those who support the Mumbai shrines’ establishment – that the Sharia forbids men and women from performing rites together – negates the very basis of Haj where lakhs of men and women perform the tawaaf of the Kaaba together. They have strict instructions that when they tie their Ahraam they must leave their faces uncovered. The Ahraam is like a shroud;clothed in that one piece of garment, women and men stand equal in the eyes of God. Again, the Islamic injunction for modesty in dress, applies equally to men and women. Ayats in the Quran are clear. If men are permitted to give talaq women are free to give khula, I could go on quoting Surahs after Surahs.

During the life of the Prophet, women were free to enter mosques and question the Prophet on Quranic revelations. It was the query of his wife Umm Salama which resulted in the revelation of Surah Al Nisa, the second longest Surah of the Quran, elaborating on the rights, responsibilities, and defining the dignity of women.
The important fact which is conveniently forgotten by most patriarchs is that unlike Christianity, Islam has no organised church, no Pope, no religious head. Islam is the world’s last revealed religion. The Quran says that 1, 24, 000 prophets preceded Prophet Mohammad. But post-Islam there is no ‘guide’ for the Ummah. The Quran therefore makes the momentous statement that Allah is closer than you shehrug (jugular vein).

Therefore, as Mualana Abul Kalam Azad has said in his monumental work Tarjumanul Quran, human beings are asked to understand the religion and its injunctions according to their “own light”. With this clear direction given by the Quran, many sects, and many schools of jurisprudence came into being;each one interpreting its tenets in its own way. People were free to choose any or go their own way. Where is the place here for dictatorial muftis? La ikra fiddin is the revolutionary Quranic verse: there is no compulsion in religion.

I should have spoken up much earlier in defence of Islam which is endangered by false interpretations. To confuse archaic traditions with the religion itself is to do it huge disservice. I would rather join my voice with the poet Ghalib who has written: Hum muhid hain aur hamara kaish hai tar e rusm (We are believers in One Allah and our creed is to reject customs). 

The author is a human rights activist and member of the Planning Commission

Petition to Union Health Minister- ” Abortion is not murder” #vaw #womenrights #reproductiverights


 

Respected Sir,

We strongly protest against the letter sent by the Maharashtra government to the Centre to amend the PCPNDT Act, 1994 so that sex selection can be treated as murder, punishable under section 302 of the IPC.First of all abortion should not be referred to as foeticide, which had anti-abortion implications. Women had the right to decide when and whether or not they should bear and give birth to children. Making sex-selective abortions (wrongly referred to as “female foeticide”) a murder charge, would only increase illegal abortions and also make access to safe abortion difficult.

All these years, women’s groups were fighting against sex selection not abortion. Now after Census 2011 and a huge dip in child sex ratio, the government has gone on the other extreme by trying to equate abortion with homicide.Womens movement has always demanded the continuous and strict monitoring of sonography centers, hospitals and nursing homes and strict action against all unlicensed centers. Instead of concentrating on this issue and doctors who misuse medical technology, the discussion in the letter focuses on abortions.

According to the PCPNDT Act, sex selection (the correct legal term) itself is a crime and the doctors involved should be punished as per the provisions under the act. The pregnant woman on whom sex selection is performed or undertaken is not an offender according to the act. This should be upheld in Maharashtra.

Safe and legal abortion is a woman’s right and abortion is legal in India. Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP Act) spells out the conditions under which it can be carried out. Sex-selective abortion, however, amounts to discrimination against a particular sex, in most cases, female sex. Sex-selection in favour of the male child is a symptom of devaluation of female lives. It is important to remember that those who want to use abortion for elimination of the female foetus have to first determine the sex of the child. Rightly, it is this process of pre-natal selection which is a crime, and it is being regulated and monitored through the Preconception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection) (PCPNDT) Act.

Unless we are able to deal with all those social and economic factors that are going into the culture of son-preference and daughter-aversion, the child sex ratio will go on plummeting. But the solution is not to curb the legal right to abortion. Rather the PCPNDT Act should be enforced, and clinics that offer prenatal sex testing should be weeded out.

We condemn the demand to make abortion a crime and urged the government to stop using anti-abortion stand for curbing the plummeting child sex ratio. Checking pre-natal sex selection required the proper implementation of the PCPNDT Act and monitoring of sex-selective procedures by the government. It could not be achieved by introducing such draconian measures that curb women’s right to safe and legal abortion.

We demand that the law deals strictly with those who perform the crime of sex selection. The political protection to erring doctors is a serious problem in Maharashtra and the state government should take steps to put an end to political interference in implementation of PCPNDT Act, rather than focusing on abortion.

We do not endorse the view that abortion is homicide ,even as we fully agree that sex selective abortion is a crime that must be punished as per the PCPNDT Act. We demand the Centre to rejects Maharashtra Goverment’s recommendation to treat sex selection as homicide under Sec 302-IPC

Forum against Sex Selection ( Akshara Committed Communities Development Trust, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Population Population first,Stree Mukti Sanghthana, Savitribai Phule Gender Resource Centre , Women Networking )

I support FASS ,in their demand and urge you to reject Maharshtra Governments recommendation to amend the PCPNDT Act, 1994 so that sex selection can be treated as murder, punishable under section 302 of the IPC

Sincerely,

 

Saudi Arabia’s Rosa Parks helps women speak up #womenrights


The rights movement may not have achieved much in terms of legislative reform, but it has given women a platform to voice their views
    • By Mona Kareem | Special to Gulf News
    • Published: 20:00 August 3, 2012

Since the 1990s, Saudi women have been demanding the right to drive cars, travel alone, and abolish the male guardianship system. The struggle was limited to certain women from less conservative communities. After the Arab Spring, with the driving campaign, Saudi women were able to make their demands heard through a larger number of people involved and with the help of media exposure; western and Arab. It was believed that they were leading what can be called a ‘Saudi spring’.

Right after the Egyptian uprising, Saudi women worked online under the name ‘Saudi Women Revolution’ and although they started with bigger demands that sought radical changes to their status, gradually, the mild voices among them were able to dominate because they were less controversial and ‘more reasonable’, as some claim. Women were arrested and this was the easiest way to create leaders that exclusively were able to define the movement and its direction. A good example of that is Manal Al Sharif.

What has the movement achieved so far? Nothing when it comes to legislation, but a lot when it comes to having more women getting involved and speaking up. King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz promised that in the coming municipal elections (that have no set date) women would be able to contest and vote. The decision did not state whether those who wished to run for election needed permission from their male guardians.

Once again, women fall under the power of men and stay second class citizens. Eventually, this results in having a women’s rights movement that is limited to families who are less conservative and more educated; a movement that unintentionally excludes many women of low-class, and of conservative families.

The Saudi women’s movement has generated criticism. Several young voices have realised that the movement cannot contribute much if it stays limited to basic demands led by working women from the middle class. Some called on women to join male activists who are calling for reform in the kingdom, believing that the process of a true democracy is expected to grant women their rights and cannot be limited to changes within the political system.

Last year, people were drawing comparisons between historical movements and the movement by the Saudi women. A good example is the comparison with the civil rights movement in the US and how Al Sharif could be the Rosa Parks of Saudi Arabia. What such examples neglected, however, is how African-American women were fighting not only for their rights as women, but first, as people of colour experiencing racism.

Right now, many African-American women have been active, highlighting different issues related to violations of their rights as women and as women of colour. However, at that time, there was no possible way, no open space, for them to fight separately and work in a feminist movement not concerned with the rights of black people.

Lessons to learn

Global historical examples, especially western, might not be the closest to the Saudi example considering the cultural, social, political, and time differences. I recall how many Saudi women used to say that they were not aiming ‘too high’ for the time-being, but were asking to have the same rights that their Gulf counterparts had achieved, and specifically what Kuwaiti women had achieved.

The latter have always been socially involved, enjoying a greater level of freedom. They were able to get their political rights in 2005 and won four seats in the parliament three years ago.

In the Kuwaiti example, if there is a lesson to learn, it is that female activists were fighting for their rights without neglecting the calls for political reform. For decades, during elections, women were somehow involved in campaigns of candidates in an attempt to have those representatives support their demands. During the Iraqi invasion, women were part of the resistance and several of them were killed. Within academia, business, arts, media, and governmental work, Kuwaiti women were also present. It was a matter of time before Kuwaiti women attained their political rights after being able to co-exist in society and in the political struggle for a better democracy.

Having Saudi women drive cars was a good way to get attention and make a point. There was a line and it was crossed but there are other lines that need to be crossed in order to keep the women’s movement alive. If this movement decides not to get politically involved and surrenders to its icons to control it, then we will eventually witness the death of another Saudi women’s movement that was not able to comprehend the situation and work within the current political context.

 

Mona Kareem is a Kuwait-born blogger, writer and poet based in New York.

Landmark Ruling in Nambia on HIV+ve Women Sterilized


 

Johannesburg– In a landmark judgment, the High Court in Windhoek found today that the Namibian government had coercively sterilised three HIV-positive women in violation of their basic rights.

“This decision is a significant victory for HIV positive women in Namibia,” said Nicole Fritz, the Executive Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). “This ruling affirms not only the rights of HIV positive women but also of all women to access their sexual and reproductive rights.”

The case, H.N. and Others v Government of the Republic of Namibia involved three HIV-positive women who sought to access pre-natal services at public hospitals in Namibia. The three women ranged in age from mid-20s to mid-40s when they were sterilised. All three were sterilised without their informed consent while accessing such services.

Ruling in the women’s favour, the High Court held that obtaining consent from women when they were in severe pain or in labour did not constitute informed consent. The Court further found that failure to obtain the three women’s informed consent violated the women’s rights under common law.

The women will be awarded damages, although the amount is still to be decided.

“These three cases represent only the tip of the iceberg because numerous HIV positive women have come forward alleging they were similarly subjected to coerced sterilisation at public hospitals in Namibia,” said Fritz.

Dozens of other cases have been documented throughout Namibia of HIV positive women being subjected to coerced sterilisation. However, despite significant evidence of the widespread practice throughout Namibia, little action has been taken to address this problem.

“This decision is the first step in ensuring that no other women will be coercively sterilised in public hospitals in Namibia,” said Priti Patel, SALC Deputy Director. “Now the government must meaningfully investigate all the other cases to ensure justice for every woman who has been coercively sterilised.”

For more information

Nicole Fritz, +27 82 600 1028, nicolef@salc.org.za

Priti Patel, +1 347 526 0831, pritip@salc.org.za

Nyasha Chingore, +27 83 784 8496, nyashac@salc.org.za

 

Haryana 12-week pregnant women cannot teach #WTFnews


Sukhbir Siwach, TNN Apr 28, 2012,
  • CHANDIGARH: New rules notified recently in Haryana bar more than 12-week pregnant teachers recruited in Haryana from joining work till they deliver and produce fitness certificates. They would not be entitled to get their salaries and other perks during that period.

“Those who are over 12-week pregnant will stand temporally unfit till the confinement (delivery) is over. (Before joining work) senior medical officers or civil surgeons will re-examine them to check their fitness,” said an official.

State school education department director Sameer Pal Srow justified the move. “It is not discrimination. We are just trying to avoid the loss of studies to students as pregnant women go on vacation shortly after joining duty,” he said. “Not only Haryana, even Himachal Pradeshis also following the similar practice.”

Haryana School Teachers Association (HSTA) protested the move and sent memorandums to the chief minister. “It is discrimination against women. Pregnancy is not their fault or weakness but it is the right of a woman to be a mother. A woman conceives the baby not only for herself but for the entire family,” said HSTA president Vazir Singh. “Women employees get maternity leave for 180 days. It seems that the government is trying to save salaries during this period. We will continue our protest against the decision.”

Lawyer Rajiv Godara said maternity leave is the right of women. “If the government is really serious about the studies of students, it should find out an alternative mechanism but not at the cost of women’s rights.”

 

FINALLY GOVT WITHDRAWS THE ORDER AND EDUCTAION MINISTER TAKES A U TURN AFTER HUE AND CRY BY WOMEN ACTIVIST SEE THE VIDEO BELOW

 

Watch headlines today video here

Missouri Republicans Pass Two Anti-Abortion Bills Allowing Employers And Doctors To Deny Women Birth Control


 

March 31, 2012
By Stephen D. Foster Jr.

Missouri is now the top contender for the title of most insane and most anti-women conservative state in America. On Thursday, Missouri Senate and House Republicans passed two bills that could cripple women’s access to abortion and contraception. One bill allows employers to deny coverage for contraception and abortion services for religious reasons and the other bill gives doctors, nurses, and pharmacists the same power.

According to St. Louis Today:

“The Senate passed a bill that would let employers deny health insurance coverage for birth control for employees who cannot prove a medical need for it.” On the same day, the House “passed a bill that would shield health care workers from participating in anything that conflicts with their conscience.”

In other words, an employer can grill a woman about why she needs contraception, and if she doesn’t give a satisfactory reason, it won’t be covered. And if a woman needs an emergency abortion or is raped and needs an abortion, the medical staff can refuse to help her.

Republican Senator John Lamping and House Republican Tim Jones are the sponsors of the bills. Lamping says “employers today have the right to offer whatever benefits they want,” and that his bill would somehow exempt employers from the new health care laws found in the Affordable Care Act and the new contraception coverage rules set forth by the Obama Administration. Meanwhile, Jones says his legislation is about religious freedom and not the reproductive rights of women.

Jones and Lamping are damned liars. These bills are all about denying women rights over their reproductive health. Lamping’s bill gives employers free reign over what women are doing in their private sex lives. Employers have no right to interfere in what a female employee does with her own body. How exactly is an employee supposed to know if a woman is telling the truth about what the contraceptives are for? Demand a doctor note? Have access to medical records? And what happens if the female employee is lying to protect her own privacy? Will she be wrongly fired for making her own decisions regarding her uterus? That’s exactly why this bill is dangerous. Employers have no right to know what a woman does with her sex organs. It violates the privacy and personal liberty of women and doctor/patient confidentiality.

Jones’ bill is just as dangerous and perhaps even more so. Not only could this bill allow doctors and pharmacists to deny women contraception, it allows doctors and nurses to refuse medical care to women who need an abortion. So if a woman needs an emergency abortion because of a life threatening ectopic pregnancy, medical personnel can turn their collective backs on her while precious time is wasted that could be used to save her life. This bill is a ‘Let Women Die’ bill and Jones knows it.

These bills are being passed under the excuse of religious freedom, but this is clearly not about religious freedom. It’s about eliminating women’s rights and destroying privacy and personal liberty. It’s about the conservative hatred of independent women who make their own choices without the permission of men. Republicans are disgracing Missouri and if these two bills actually become law, the state should henceforth be known among women as ‘Misery’.

Becoming an abuse statistic in patriarchal India


Journalist Nita Bhalla recounts the lingering scars – physical and mental – from an assault on her and draws a wider lesson about violence against women in patriarchal India.

I stand in front of the mirror, surveying my face and body – still in shock at how it could have happened to me.

Six days on, the swelling on the right side of my face which he banged into the wall has subsided, the bruise under my right eye where he punched me has turned deep purple and those on my arms and legs where he grabbed and kicked me are fading.

The marks around my neck from when he tried to choke me, I conclude, are healing the fastest. Yet I still decide to wrap a scarf around my neck before leaving for work.

Globally, six out of 10 women experience physical and/or sexual violence – mostly committed by a husband or an intimate partner, says UN Women.

And India, the country I am based in, is not much better.

Around 37% of Indian women have experienced some form of abuse by their husbands – pushing, slapping and hair pulling, punching, kicking, choking or burning – according to the Indian government‘s last National Family Health Survey.

Activists say the actual figures are likely to be more than double this, but despite greater awareness and more gender-sensitive laws, few women are willing to come out and talk openly about the violence they face by those who purport to love them.
Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

I still keep thinking: ‘This did not happen. This does not happen to women like me’”

The statistics are not surprising for me. But being a statistic is.
Raped and set alight

Reporting on women’s rights issues in South Asia over the last three years, I have covered the plethora of threats which haunt the millions of women who live in this deeply patriarchal region.

The violations are vast and varied – from the illegal abortions of female foetuses to the immolation of young brides by their in-laws for not fulfilling dowry demands, to brothers who murder their sisters for falling in love with “unsuitable” men.

I have visited villages in northern India where women hide behind veils and weep as they recount their stories of being sold and trafficked as brides, kept as slaves and beaten and raped by their husbands and “shared” among brothers.

I have spent hours in women’s shelters buried in New Delhi‘s slums, interviewing battered women with blackened and burnt arms, after their drunken husbands’ poured kerosene over them and set them alight.

Not entirely silent: Indian women protest violence against their sex

I have spoken to health workers, gender experts, women’s activists, and government officials on numerous issues – from the psychological reasons of “power and control” that lie behind gender abuse to the adverse impacts of the low status of women on India’s development efforts.

While physical and sexual violence against women is unfortunately something that afflicts every society, the high levels to which it is acceptable in India are sometimes unfathomable.

The National Family Health Survey found that 51% of Indian men and 54% of Indian women found it justifiable for a man to beat his wife.

And the silence that surrounds such abuse helps perpetuate that acceptability.
‘Objects’

Not the understandable silence of victims who are afraid or not empowered enough to speak out, but the incomprehensible silence of others – family, friends, neighbours and even passers-by – who choose to turn a blind eye.

Interviewing victims and hearing of how their families and friends knew, but did nothing, was something that I never really understood.

But now I have experienced that silence.

When he pulled my hair and kicked me as I lay on the pavement, there was a deafening silence from my neighbours who heard my screams but were reluctant to intervene.

I heard it from the group of young men walking past, who stopped a few feet away to watch as he beat me. And I heard it from the auto-rickshaw drivers who were parked at the stand across the road in the early hours of that morning.

Read full BBC story here

Press Release-Maitreyi Chatterjee (26 January 1940—17 January 2012)


Eminent writer, feminist activist, and art, drama and music critic, Maitreyi Chatterjee passed away peacefully on 17 January, 2012.
She was the Founder Member and Convenor of Nari Nirjantan Pratirodh Mancha (Forum against the Oppression of Women), one of the first rights-based women’s groups in Kolkata in 1983, that continues to play a significant role in the women’s rights movement in West Bengal. A room in her flat continues to be the meeting place for the group.
She was active in advocating for the release of non criminal women prisoners in 1985. She also deposed before the Bantala Commission after conducting an independent enquiry in the case, and campaigned tirelessly for justice for Archana Guha and for the punishment for Runu Guhu Neogi.
She wrote extensively in the newspapers and magazines including Desh, Sabala, Pratikhan, Kalantar, Chalar Pathey, Protibidhan, Manabi, Anik, Joutha Mahila Udyog, Shethu etc. on women’s issues with a feminist perspective. Her books dealing with women’s rights, communalism, healthcare, education, literature and a variety of other issues are widely acclaimed. She co-edited a book on the attack of women in Gujarat and her work also includes a book on women artists and creators and a special Puja literary issue dedicated to women.
Her passing leaves a void in the women’s movement and her voice against State Oppression will be sorely missed.
On behalf of Nari Nirjatan Pratirodh Mancha
Mira Roy – 98301 93003
Saswati Ghosh – 98302 46265