#India- Celebrating women’s solidarities! Resisting cultures of violence! #Vaw #Womenrights #womensday


We have all recently witnessed unprecedented response to a young woman’s brutal gang rape and eventual death. The public anger and mass grief it triggered finally pushed our government to take action. Such is the power of people’s resolve!

Yet, sexual assaults and violence continue unabated across the country, from everyday instances of sexual harassment like stalking, touching and staring to violence at home and at the work place. Sexual violence against women from Dalit and Adivasi communities, religious minorities and the differently abled, and people marginalised on the basis of gender and sexuality is being invisibilised. There is reluctance to recognise marital rape (committed by a “trusted” partner) as a crime. Sexual abuse and torture by security forces in Kashmir, North-East and Chhattisgarh (including custodial violence) enjoy state impunity.

The Justice Verma Committee introduced many critical recommendations like command responsibility for custodial rape. Many of these suggestions have been overlooked by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013. One big lacuna is the proposed gender neutrality of the accused. Unlike in existing law where the accused is male, the new Bill makes it possible for women to be charged with these offences. In a culture known for its anti-women positions and acute gender inequalities, this clause makes a mockery of sexual violence (including rape) against women. We demand that this be changed immediately!

Public ferment against sexual violence is being projected as a call for death penalty. We strongly condemn any retributive justice practised by the state, and appeal that any form of punishment function within the ambit of human rights and justice. We call upon the Government of India to join the overwhelming majority of nation states that have abolished death penalty.

Sexual assaults are but a part of a wider spectrum of cultures of violence that entail discrimination against women. Honour crimes and killings, khap panchayat diktats, attacks on women’s autonomy, neglect of women’s health, women workers’ lack of social security, and neoliberal policies that oppress poor women in multiple ways are all the result of anti-women attitudes. Patriarchal institutions like religion and community lose no time in calling for curtailment of women’s freedoms in the public sphere in the name of safety. The “Din Hamara Raat Hamari Abhiyan” or Take Back the Night Campaign is a rejection of such moral policing that impinges on women’s right to full participation in society.

The International Women’s Day is an enduring symbol of women’s solidarities and struggles against injustices. On this occasion, we salute the fighting spirit of sisters from across the nation including Soni Sori in a Chhattisgarh jail, Irom Sharmila in a Manipur hospital, “Suryanelli” battling a 17-year old case in Kerala and many unnamed women challenging the capitalist-state nexus in Orissa and other parts of Central India. We raise our voices against all such violations.

We invite people from all walks of life to join us in remembrance, resistance and celebration of women’s extraordinary achievements. Let us collectively resolve to fight for women’s justice, dignity and autonomy.

Lend your voice and support to women’s movements that have been working in multiple directions: from consciousness raising to supporting women’s facing violence, from law reform to challenging traditional notions about women’s roles, opposing caste-communal violence to supporting women’s political participation and so on. Significant work continues to be done to challenge prejudices against women with disabilities and people of different genders and sexualities. Thanks to such efforts, women have achieved major strides in redefining family and inheritance, political participation, legal reform vis-à-vis domestic violence, dowry deaths, and adverse sex ratio.

Resolve to end injustice and violence against women!

Stand up for women’s rights!

Brief overview of the women’s movements in India

* 1848: Savitribai Phule started girls’ schools, defying threats by feudal forces (?)
* 1885: Rukhmabai chose prison over marriage as a child bride & studied to be a doctor
* 1940s: Telengana women part of militant struggles for land and freedom
* 1970s: anti-liquor, anti-price rise movements, issues of land alienation and wife-beating addressed in Shahada, Maharashtra
* 1977 onwards: Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh established; unequal wages, women’s retrenchment, sexual division of labour attacked
* 1970s: Custodial rape of Mathura (a young tribal girl); teachers challenged the Supreme Court judgement; state forced to recognise custodial rape as a crime
* 1980s: massive participation of women in Chipko and Appiko environmental movements
* 1992: woman activist gang raped in Rajasthan; Supreme Court framed Vishakha Guidelines, predecessor of  Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at the Workplace 2012
* 2009: Delhi High Court decriminalises consensual, adult same-sex relationships
History of the International Women’s Day

* 1857: thousands of women workers in the New York garment industry took to the streets against unfair wages, 12-hour work days and sexual harassment in the workplace
* 1910: Clara Zetkin’s gave a call in Copenhagen, Denmark to establish an “International Women’s Day
* 1911: on 19 March, more than a million women and men marched together
* 1911: On March 25, a fire in a sweatshop in New York killed 145 female garment workers. In solidarity, 80,000 workers marched to attend the mass funeral
* 1912: 14,000 textile workers went on strike with the slogan “Better to starve fighting than starve working”
* 1913-1914: the International Women’s Day also became a day for protesting against the First World War and for world peace.

 

 

International Women’s Day- Light a candle for Soni Sori #Vaw #1billionrising


“Huge cheers to friends at Barduari Studios for creating these wonderful online action in which several, who for some reason, could not join offline actions were still able to express their solidarity and resolve to right the wrong.”

sonisori

 

PRESS RELEASE- Demonstration in San Francisco against VAW in India


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press contacts:

Vinay Bhat

Cell: +1 412.527.7985


Protesters  Demand Justice for victims and  punishment for perpetrators


Against a background of ever-increasing reports of rape and other violence on women in India, several individuals gathered on Sunday, March 3rd, in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of gender violence in India. The gathering was organized by the Bay Area chapter of the Association for India’s Development (AID). Given the growing outrage in India as a result of the recent rape case in Delhi, the protestors wanted to raise awareness and express anger against the alarming incidence of violence. This event marked special mention of Soni Sori, an adivasi school teacher currently held in the Central Jail in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh, India. Similar protests have also been organized in other cities including Boston, London and several cities in India in the week leading up to the International Women’s Day on March 8th. Soni Sori has been the symbol of global protests in the past due to the custodial rape and torture she had to face from the jail authorities.

Sori was arrested in New Delhi on October 4, 2011 and accused of being a Maoist supporter. Despite her appeals to courts in New Delhi, she was handed over to the Chhattisgarh police and taken to the state where she was beaten, sexually assaulted and given electric shocks by the police. Sori documented her torture in letters she wrote to her lawyer, and which have since been widely publicized.

Participants raised slogans and sang songs against patriarchy. They demanded freedom for Sori and punishment for her torturers. Anitha Majji, a software professional in the Bay Area expressed outrage and on being asked why she was there, responded “Soni Sori must be freed immediately, and the State must be held accountable. The sexual torture she had to go through is unacceptable.” It is noteworthy to mention that Sori has been acquitted in four out of the eight cases in which she was charged.

Participants also spoke of the layered violence that women face as a result of gender, class,caste and racial oppression. The Delhi  gang rape  sparked massive protests in India, and women got on the streets in huge numbers to make themselves heard. “Because I’m a woman, that’s why it’s important. We have to have more freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of the news, freedom to print whatever that comes in that’s against women. We  need to be heard all over the world. We need to be heard.” said Angie Bannister, a retired nurse. Organizers assured that this is just one in a many series of actions to speak against the injustice and violence that women face on a daily basis.

 

One billion rising for Soni Sori and all women prisoners till they are Free #Vaw #1billionrising


SONISORIOBR

March 1, 2013

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

I am  rising for an incarcerated tribal teacher Soni Sori , a  woman who juggled several roles – a tribal journalist, activist, teacher, mother of three young kids. A woman who dared to speak against the interests of the Chhattisgarh State and mining companies. A woman who did not succumb to the emotional, physical, sexual harassment targeted at breaking her spirits in the jail. She, instead, knocked at the conscience of the world outside.

She  began her fight against injustice in October 2011, when she was arrested on the charges of being a maoist supporter and brutally, physically and sexually tortured in custody by the Chhattisgarh police.

The announcement of the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry on 63rdRepublic day of India in 2012 for Ankit Garg, the SP of Dantewada is a reflection of the sad state of the Indian Republic .. It was shocking to see that a police officer who was accused of brutalising and torturing the young Adivasi teacher, Soni Sori, was lauded by the State even after reports of perversity of the worst kind in the way he reportedly ordered the torture of Sori in police custody.

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE ONLINE

1)–Please sign a petition  to president of India to  take back his medal here

http://petitions.halabol.com/2013/01/21/take-back-president%E2%80%99s-police-medal-gallantry-awarded-ankit-garg

2—Endorse a letter to Sonia Gandhi for Soni Sori

Click here to endorse the letter

3)—Send soni sori a post card

Click here to see the details

4)- Light a candle for soni sori and all women prisoners

This is an online action created by Barduari Studios, an anonymous group, who thought it appropriate to develop something that anyone can use to reffirm their support to the Soni Sori Campaign.

Please light a candle for Soni Sori here: http://www.shareswf.com/game/29150/light-a-candle-for-soni-sori

And do change your facebook coverpage for atleast one day to the ‘light a candle before the Supreme Court‘ given in the banner album. You can also directly take it from our facebook page at www.facebook.com/onebillionrisingforsonisori

If you have blog webiste please embed below widget, its on sonis ori blog as well

Light a candle for soni sori you can embed a widget on your blog, copy and paste below, share widely

She fought back! She went on hunger strike in jail and protested against the human rights violations and the treatment by the Chhattisgarh Police; she wrote letters tot he court about the situation in prison and continues to speak out whenever she can.

Even after more than  a year, Soni has not received justice. Her struggle continues…

Soni Sori has become a symbol of mistreatment of all women prisoners .

Her fight for justice is not just for herself but also for others.

Her letters from Prison which spread like for fire for an International support on March 8th 2012

WE  Rise for Soni Sori because:

  1. Far from being an oppressed and downtrodden woman, as an outspoken critic of the state policies, the mining companies, and the Maoists, Soni Sori is being punished for exerting her democratic right to speak out indefence of her adivasi/ Indigenous  community and their traditional lands rather than for a crime she has not even been tried for.
  2. She is being punished by those who would not have the authority to mete out punishment even if she were guilty of a crime and the form of her punishments are not to be found in any penal code anywhere in the world.
  3. If the Indian government is not willing to protect women from the illegal actions of its own agents when in their custody, then what message is it sending out to Indian men – that women are fair game just for going out or speaking out?
  4. The Indian state not only seems to be failing to protect women from sexual and other types of violence, but is in fact sanctioning, indeed rewarding such crimes when they are committed by its employees and representatives to silence women who speak out in defence of human rights.

We Rise Because We Refuse To Support State Violence On Women.

We Rise Because Rape And Violence Against Women Under Any Circumstances is Unacceptable.

We Rise On This International Women’s Day To Demand Freedom for Soni Sori & Punishment For Her Perpetrators.

When: One Billion Rising on March 8th 2013.

Who: People of all gender with head, heart and a strong spine

Where: Here. There. Anywhere. Wherever we have such people.

What:  Organise your own ‘One Billion Rising’ action in your city, school, university, work place. Organise it any form you like. Or check the list of events on this page and join the one you can. Don’t worry If you are unable to make it to the streets, there are several online actions: petitions, letters to Indian government. But whatever you decide to do leave a message here so that others can join.

JOIN US ON FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/OneBillionRisingforsonisori

CHECK EVENTS IN YOUR CITY, AND IF YOU DONT FIND ONE ADD , LETS STRIKE,AND PROTEST TOGETHER FOR SONI SORI

https://www.facebook.com/OneBillionRisingforsonisori/events

Make this post Viral : !!

IADHRI Demands Liberty and Justice for All Indian Citizens #India #republicday #vaw


 January 26, 2013 | 

Republic Day of India, 2013
Contact: iadhri.org@gmail.com

Calls for investigation and punishment of police officials Garg and Kalluri and withdrawal of their presidential medals

On January 26th, 2013, India celebrates its 64th Republic Day. The anniversary of the Indian Constitution’s adoption is always a time for not just celebration, but for reflection; a time to take stock of how far the nation has come in securing, for all its citizens, justice, liberty and equality as enshrined in the Constitution.

Over the last month, the rape and subsequent death of a young woman in Delhi – a particularly brutal incident, yet only one in an endless series of similar crimes that are reported, month after month, if they are reported at all – triggered international shock and outrage. The incident served as a stark reminder that, decades after the adoption of the Constitution, the liberty to live our lives without fear remains unsecured. For women in many communities across the country, especially those on the economic and social margins, such as dalits and adivasis, this insecurity permeates the fabric of day to day life – sexual assault, violence, imprisonment and threats thereof are commonplace. In any discussion of the questions that the gang-rape in Delhi raises, it is to these women and to these communities that we must look: the truest measure of a society lies in how it treats those who have the least power. None of us is safer or freer than the most vulnerable among us.

In the last few weeks, there has been much discussion on how to make sure that survivors of rape and violence receive justice consistently and rapidly. It is worth remembering, as these discussions take place, the spectacular failure of our judiciary and democratic processes in delivering justice to Soni Sori, the adivasi school teacher and mother of three from Chhattisgarh who has been incarcerated since October 2011 [1]. A year ago this January 26th, India awarded the Police Medal for Gallantry to an officer, SP Ankit Garg, despite compelling medical evidence that Sori was tortured and sexually assaulted while under his custody [2].

This is not an isolated case, but part of a pattern of such incidents. In a bizarre repetition of last year’s act of rewarding-the-perpetrator, the Government of India has decided to confer the President’s Police Medal for Meritorious Service this Republic Day, January 26th 2013, to Inspector General of Police S.R.P. Kalluri, who has well-documented rape accusations against him in Chhattisgarh [3, 4].

Sori’s petition in the Supreme Court as well as the cases in which Sori has been falsely charged have been subject to repeated delays. In the interim, neither the elected Government, nor independent bodies such as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission for Women (NCW), have instituted serious investigations into the indications that Sori was tortured- her fingers seem to have been blackened from electric shocks and doctors recovered stones that had been thrust into her vagina and rectum. Indeed, the NCW revealed last October that it had closed its inquiry into the case, and has remained silent since, apart from making an anodyne recommendation of providing psychological counseling to Sori [5]. Although, on January 8th 2013, the Supreme Court granted Sori’s plea to be shifted to Jagdalpur jail, to be closer to her family [6], she remains in the custody of those who stand accused of torturing her.

Sori has spoken to a legal team of the humiliation and violence that she and other women prisoners are routinely subjected to. Besides this, jails in Chhattisgarh have an occupancy rate of around 256%, with 13,918 individuals incarcerated in space built to accommodate 5,430. The all-India rate is 110% [7]. Between 2001-2010, an average of four individuals died each day in police custody [8].

What makes these statistics all the more disturbing is that a majority of those imprisoned are under-trials such as Sori, who have not been convicted of any crime. The prolonged detention of these individuals – often for years altogether, as their cases move sluggishly through the judicial system amounts to an unconstitutional deprivation of the liberty of lawfully innocent citizens.

Indeed, the state increasingly uses the process of trial as a punishment in itself, as in the case of Kartam Joga, a man who, for years, tirelessly sought accountability for human rights violations by state forces in Chhattisgarh. On January 7th, 2013, a trial court acquitted Joga of all of a panoply of fabricated charges [9]; an innocent man thus spent the past two and a half years of his life in jail. Lingaram Kodopi (Sori’s nephew), a 25-year old journalist who worked to document abuses by security forces, remains imprisoned, awaiting trial, even as local police officers have been recorded admitting that the charges against him are fabricated [1]. Kodopi has also suffered custodial violence [10]. Numerous others have been thus imprisoned on the weakest of grounds seemingly as punishment for criticising the state’s actions or for otherwise challenging local authorities. Although we welcome the release of Kartam Joga and others who have been put through similar ordeals, the state must cease its intimidation and harassment of those who seek to hold it accountable to its own people.

In the 2G spectrum case, the Supreme Court recently commented that “this court has time and again stated that bail is the rule and committal to jail an exception… The courts owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction, and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and duly found guilty” [11]. This is a sound and practical principle; we ask that it be invoked not only in the trials of the influential but also in the trials of the weak and marginalized.

If we are to continue to place our trust in the rights that the Constitution upholds and seeks to guarantee every citizen in India, if we are to address the deep-rooted issue of violence against women, then we must be able to ensure liberty and justice to those who are the most vulnerable in our societies. To that end, we demand:

  • Ensure a speedy, free and  fair trials for Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

  • Conduct an independent and impartial investigation of incidents of sexual violence against women, including Soni Sori, committed by the police and other security forces; prosecute the responsible officers and impose exemplary punishment on those found guilty. Withdraw the Presidential Gallantry Awards given to Police Superintendent Ankit Garg and Inspector General of Police S.R.P. Kalluri.

  • Grant unconditional bail to undertrials from socially and economically marginalised communites, languishing in jails in Chhattisgarh and across India.

  • Ensure that all cases, particularly those against individuals from marginalised communities, are disposed of in a timely manner so that the process of securing justice is not a punishment in itself.

  • Constitute a grievance redressal mechanism for individuals who have been wrongly detained or subject to custodial violence.

International Alliance for the Defence of Human Rights in India (IADHRI)

[1] Tehelka: ‘The Inconvenient Truth Of Soni Sori’
http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ne151011coverstory.asp

[2] The Hindu: ‘Soni Sori case: HRW wants PM to order impartial probe on torture’
http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/soni-sori-case-hrw-wants-pm-to-order-impartial-probe-on-torture/article2971330.ece

[3] Statement of protest and demand for withdrawal of Meritorious Service award to S.R.P. Kalluri
http://iadhri.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/statement-of-protest-and-demand-for-withdrawal-of-meritorious-service-award-to-srp-kalluri/

[4] Ledha Bai’s Statement Against S.R.P. Kalluri
https://iadhri.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/ledha-bais-statement-against-srp-kalluri/

[5]Tehelka: ‘NCW first shuts, then reopens Soni Sori’s case’
http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main54.asp?filename=Ws101012Chhattisgarh.asp

[6] Press Trust of India: ‘SC allows Soni Sori to be shifted to Jagdalpur Central Jail’
http://www.business-standard.com/generalnews/news/sc-allows-soni-sori-to-be-shifted-to-jagdalpur-central-jail/106440/.

[7]National Crime Records Bureau: http://ncrb.nic.in/PSI-2011/TABLE-2.1.pdf

[8]Tehelka:  ‘Four custodial deaths daily over the last decade’
http://archive.tehelka.com/story_main51.asp?filename=Ws211111HUMAN_RIGHTS.asp

[9]Amnesty International: ‘India frees prisoner of conscience Kartam Joga’
https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/india-frees-prisoner-conscience-kartam-joga-2013-01-08

[10] Committee to Protect Journalists: ‘In India, imprisoned journalist’s plea for help’
http://cpj.org/blog/2012/06/in-india-imprisoned-journalists-plea-for-help.php

[11] The Hindu: ‘‘Respect principle that punishment begins after conviction’’
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2652745.ece

 

#Soni Sori Vs Police Thana #Poem #Vaw


SONI5

सोनी सॉरी VS पोलीस थाना

सोनी सॉरी एक नारी है ,
आदिवासी होने की मारी है ,

जिसमे उसपर ज़ुल्म किया ,
वो जैल का अधिकारी है ..

इज़्ज़त तार तार किया सारा ,
पीसा , कुचला . जानवर सा मारा,
राक्षस की रूह को फिर धारा,
जानवर सा बलात्कार किया ,
उस बेसहारा !

कैसा ये सरकारी ख़ाता है ,
जो शिकायत ले थाने जाता है ,
अपनी आप बीती बताता है ,
मदद की गुहार लगाता है ,
वो आदिवासी कहलाता है ,
बेशर्म ! उसे ही नक्सली बताता है …

अपना ख़ाता साफ रखा ,
सब control है !! जनाब !!
यह report दिखा !
26 जनवरी को लाल किले आ ,
प्रधान मंत्री को सलाम किया ,
पोलीस मेडल वही राक्षस ,
वही ले गया !!

सोनी सॉरी धकके खाती है ,
जैल से क्रांति चलती है ,
सबको क्रांति के लिए जागती है ,
अपना सच जैसे तैसे बतलाती है,
देश के अंधे क़ानून से ,
इंसाफ़ की गुहार लगाती है …

उठो ,
जागो ,
कमर कसो ,
इस छेदो वाली छाननी का ,
क्रांति से हर छेद भरो !!

@ राहुल योगी देवेश्वर

Indian State honours monster – Justice for #SoniSori #Vaw


Friday, January 4, 2013

There was a recent gathering at Jantar Mantar to protest against the gruesome sexual violence committed on Soni Sori while in custody in Chhattisgarh under the supervision of Ankit Garg.

Superintendent of Police, Dantewada. Ankit Garg was awarded with a presidential police medal on Republic Day (January 26) in 2012.
Soni Sori’s petition at the Supreme Court is due to be heard .
While politicians from many parties in parliament have demanded fast track courts to deal with the Delhi Gang Rape case, there has been no clear response so far to the demand made by several women’s organisations for fast-track proceedings with regard to the 100,000 cases of sexual assault pending within the judicial system.
Amongst these are numerous cases of sexual assault conducted by members of the Armed Forces, Paramilitary Forces and other Police Forces, especially, but not only in states governed by the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
Soni Sori’s case, where, armed policemen use sexual torture and humiliation on a woman in custody has been repeatedly invoked in demonstrations and gatherings in Delhi to protest against the gang-rape of the 23 year old paramedical student which resulted in her death.
Justice for the unknown citizen can only be done when Soni Sori and many others like her also get justice.

 

#India- #Chhattsigarh pays Kareena Kapoor 1.40 crore, while 1 lakh children suffer malnutrition in the state


While over  over 1 lakh children are suffering malnutrition in Bastar,thE tribal region of chhattisgarh, while 80 prisoners including women are HIV positive in chhattisgarh, for more than a year Soni Sori a tribal teacher has been tortured, sexually assaulted, denied basic  HUMAN rights in chhattisgarh, and NCW says Soni Sori needs psychological counselling or she might die,  The Chhattisgarh government admitted on Thursday that it paid a whopping sum of Rs 1.40 crore to Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor for her performance in November at the state’s anniversary function.

SONISORICOLLAGE

In a written reply to Congress member Mohammed Akbar in the state assembly, Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Brijmohan Agrawal, who holds the tourism and culture portfolios as well, said that 245 artistes performed during the weeklong (November 1-7) state foundation anniversary – Rajayotasava 2012- celebrations held in various districts and the government paid over Rs 5 crore to them.

The total expenditure as honorarium to 245 artistes, that included 42 artistes from outside the state, during Rajayotasava 2012 was Rs 5,21,22,500, the minister said. He also listed details of per person honorarium paid out by the government, with Kareena Kapoor topping the list at Rs 1,40,71,000. Kareena performed at main Rajayotasava venue at Naya Raipur on November 1 and her show was hardly for eight minutes.

The government also paid heavy amount to other artistes such as Sonu Nigam (Rs 36,50,000), Sunidhi Chauhan (Rs 32,00,000), Dia Mirza (Rs 25,00,000), Himesh Reshamia (Rs 24,00,000) and Pankaj Udhas (Rs 90,000).

The minister also informed the house that his department spent Rs 54,62,461 on inviting the artistes and their travel expenditure while the bill for artistes’ lodging and food was put at Rs 11,67,956.

#India- Open letter to #BenRattray, #CEO, #Change.org – “Et tu Brutus” #kracktivism


Dear Ben Rattray

You  started  change.org ,to change  the world, you did made an impact on social change in last five years,in US. In the developing world especially in India , there was mutli-fold increase in petitions, in last one year. So what was different about change, which made it so popular?  The fact it was a business model, which was entering social change with a very transparent and accountable agenda . You are not a non profit organisation claiming anything, true, but you were  representing a progressive community fighting for social justice and change, fighting for human rights of people across the globe. You were using the power of business for social good. Also the fact that each petition was checked and there was a coordination between offline protest , campaigns and the online petition.

I invested  my time at change.org  by  creating many  human rights and petitions on change.org in past one year. There have been  small victories  Paypal apologises. There have been some big victories ,Family Matters taken away from Justice Bhaktavatsala, Amnesty International intervenes to Free Waqar, The Kashmiri YouthFreedom for Arun Ferreira behind bars for 4 years under draconian laws  , and some still continue to create impact like the petition for a  To Save Soni Sori and Punish Chhattisgarh Police & has had impact for international mobilization .

I have closely worked with change.org team on  many petitions, and also guided them  time and again on some other petitions as well, as I strongly believed ,in the fact, that they had taken a stand for social justice and human rights.  Change.org, meant business, yes business to take stand for  human rights . I  used to laugh at some of the inane petitions, which were totally ridiculous e.g. homophobic, anti abortion petition, as I  was sure change.org will not give any support, neither a push and the petition will die its own death. But your decision to change your advertising policy in the name of  openness, democracy and empowerment is nothing more than a facade. There was a certain element of  trust which has been broken  by the new changes in your advertising policy. Change.org  built its reputation on arming Davids to take on the Goliaths, now it seems that you think David and Goliath should be on the same team.

After reading the leaked documents, I was very disturbed and angry and asked the change.org team in India about it and I got the following email, by country head of change.org in India on Oct 25th 2012

 Hi Kamayani,

 as you are one of our most active users I wanted to reach out to you to clarify things in light of the Huffington Post and other pieces regarding our advertising guidelines.

Change.org’s mission is to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see. Our vision is a world in which no one is powerless and making change is a part of daily life.

We believe the best way to achieve this is to have a platform that is truly open (like a true democracy) to all points of view as long as they don’t violate our terms of service – eg: hateful, violent, fraudulent etc. (full details here http://www.change.org/en-IN/about/terms-of-service).

We’re also extending this to our advertisers as long as they do not violate advertising guidelines http://www.change.org/en-IN/about/advertising-guidelines

This is the same yardstick that every tech platform uses – from FB and Google to Huffington Post itself.

 Finally, I would encourage you to read the leaked document as it serves as it clearly explains our position on a number of questions that people might have. It is not as dramatic as the HuffPo article 🙂

I hope that clarifies. Please let me know if you have further questions.

Cheers,

Avijit

I have read all internal documents word by word, the fact remains you did not plan  to  reach  to me and many other progressive users about the change you were going to embark upon. What these leaked documents revealed goes much beyond that, inclusive of embracing those who want to work against those very causes.  This part of internal document which  I produce below  proves  how your are turning from left to right . How will  you  justify while accepting paid promotions from conservative organizations. After all, conservatives don’t want change. That’s a progressive value. Conservatives want things to remain  the same. Corporations don’t have to run successful campaigns on Change.org in order to defeat the good that’s been done. All they have to do is pay to run so many petitions that current users dislike to get those users to go away or simply stop opening e-mails about petitions.

The full internal Faqs are available here-rebrand-internalfaqs-change.pdf

Your Article in HuffiiPost on Oct 25 also has nothing new  to add to the understanding at all  . In the name of openness now you say YES to-Republican campaigns, soon  I will find a campaign to endorse a legitimate rape ,  Astroturfing campaigns, Corporations.  About Hate groups – you say If a large organization like the The Southern Poverty Law Center( SPLC )says they’re a hate group its a NO , but otherwise yes. For change.org –Anti-abortion, Pro-gun, Union-busting, Animal cruelty is Yes. and you say “We are open to organizations that represent all points of view, including those with which we personally (and strongly) disagree.

Your advertising policy shift demonstrates the potential perils of for-profit companies founded on progressive values, and shows the power of money . You have literally betrayed all the active users of change.org, including me and taken advantage of our issues and petitions for increasing your own database. As a business and a company   you have every right to pivot and change  your brand  positioning. However, under the garb of ‘   you are actually helping further the work of those who we are working to organize against. For eg – with  this new Change.org openness, now anyone is eligible to advertise with you for profit. So after I sign a petition for gay rights, women’s rights and all of the other human rights issues, I might find a link to a sponsored petition that  I wasn’t expecting. Stop  Gay Marriages ! Give Legal recognition to Khap Panchayats !   Legalise ‘ Legitimate Rape ” !  Women should stop wearing skirts !

Its a big thanks to the Whistle -blower who leaked the documents for opening our eyes, and  you fire him from work, Wow, that’s very  Ethical, and you do not mention this at all in your article . Is  it change.org’s  policy not to discuss internal matters even if they are public  . I must say, and the fact we are having a debate, is because of him or her , and my eternal gratitude to the concerned person .

You used to call the non-profits who have spent millions to  support  you succeed “partners”, and now you call them “advertisers”. Nice attempt to make it sound like these were simply commercial transactions.   You make it sound like selling names to the radical right is a grand vision for ’empowerment'”. Since when is suppressing the rights of women, ’empowerment’? That’s not a grand vision for good. That’s a grand vision for greed. It’s genius, but let’s be clear. It’s not change. It’s just doubling-down on conflict—clickable, lucrative, conflict-mongering—and calling it a business model. Isn’t selling opt- ins (a user opts in with an email addresses when they sign a petition) to anti-women or anti-gay organizations a corrupt act no matter how you sugar coat it?  With a very liberal base of users on your sight. Your claim that you’ve simply grown too big to devote the necessary time to check out each petition is a betrayal of your origin, which was based on making this a voice for the voiceless,  for those who couldn’t make themselves heard elsewhere over the money. What’s changed  ? You seem to have eliminated change in favor of more of the usual. You may not think that you’re selling out, but at  you’ve made a Faustian deal.

Its  time to bid good bye, and I do so  with by my last petition addressed to you only, to reinstate the Whistle- Blower and come out . I will not be participating in change.org petitions  from now, but  I will definitely will be watching you , as you say in your article

“If it’s still not clear to you which version is accurate, I’d ask you consider suspending final judgment until you see the impact of our actions once the heat of the rhetoric subsides. Because while the impact that Change.org users have had around the world has been growing rapidly, we’re just getting started. And we’d love to work together to change the world.”

It’s very  clear to me where you are heading, and there is no confusion , now you are not a business for a social cause but  like any for profit , you are making money on our database .

Was a change.org petitioner organizer in India

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai

28TH October, 2012

PRESS RELEASE-NCW shamed into reopening the #SoniSori Case- After Protest #mustshare


Press Release

 

Justice for Soni Sori Campaign

 

10/10/2012

NCW Shamed into Reopening the Soni Sori Case After Gherao!


Today afternoon, activists from women’s groups and several peoples’ organisations stormed the National Commission for Women (NCW), protesting against the continued inaction for an year in the Soni Sori case. 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. It is also one year since women’s groups first met the NCW to seek their intervention.

Since the first meeting last year, these organizations have approached the NCW 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 NCW. Soni Sori herself wrote to the NCW seeking their help. But all this has fallen on deaf ears.

 

On 27September 2012, when the NCW was once again approached regarding this case by representatives of some women’s organisations, Hemlata Kheria, the Member-in-Charge of Chhattisgarh was not even aware of Soni Sori’s case.  It took two hours for her file to be dug out, and it was then discovered that a reply of the Chhattisgarh police had been lying in the NCW office since 17 February. The NCW has neither taken cognizance of this reply, nor forwarded it to the complainants.

 

Today, to the shock and consternation of the protesting organizations, they were informed by another member secretary Charu Walikhanna that the Soni Sori case had been closed on 4 Oct 2012, that too once more without informing the complainants! Clearly, the NCW had satisfied itself by reading a “report” by the accused in the case, the Chhattisgarh Police. The closure report says, “at  our end, nothing seems more to be done”. Various members of the NCW came up with frivolous excuses of not having the “power” to take up a case which is pending before a court. The activists were then forced to read out the provisions of the NCW Act, which give the commission the power to intervene or/and assist in any pending case.

 

After prolonged discussion, the NCW finally relented and has reopened the case. Also, the NCW has given in writing that within a week it will “consider intervention in the Supreme Court case” and carry out a fact-finding.

 

NCW has frequently denied reports of sexual violence by security forces in several parts of the country, instead of seeking to investigate and end impunity granted in such crimes. It’s apathy has been criminal – it refused to get involved in the Shopian case where Nilofer and Aasiya Jan were sexually assaulted and killed; it remained a mute spectator when the Chhattisgarh police whisked away Sodi Shambho, the crucial witness to Gompad massacre, from right under its nose in New Delhi to some place where she still remains untraced three years later; it is still to take any action on a 15-month old petition asking the NCW to investigate the human rights violation of Irom Sharmila, who is being illegally detained by the Government.

 

The protesting groups today also pointed out that Members and Chairpersons of the NCW are chosen not by virtue of their involvement in and championship of women’s rights and struggles, but by their participation in and patronage by the ruling political parties.

Press Release

 

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