Tanushree Gangopadhyay: More than 300 women from different parts of Gujarat assembled in Ahmedabad under the banner of Gujarat Mahila Manch to complain of “abusive, repression, sexual harassment, deprivation and control”, pointing towards how the state government has failed to accord them basic human rights. At the end of the day-long meet, they unanimously resolved not to vote for a government which has deprived them of their basic rights.
The meet saw senior Manch leader Nirjhari Sinha say that “women from every class have fought for their rights in Gujarat. However they have been denied their rights and have been deprived of their minimum wages and human dignity. Fascist forces have denied them their due. The government has denied them education and health facilities.”Reading out the fact-finding committee report on the Naliya sex scandal, which broke out in Kutch one-and-a-half years ago, senior academic Jharna Pathak said, while it has “shaken the edifice, it has not stirred the ‘progressive’ state government.” She added, “Several legislative reforms came up post-Nirbhaya are not being implemented in Gujarat.”
Retired sessions judge Jyotsana Yagnik, who gave brilliant judgements in the Bijal gang rape case and the infamous Naroda Patia case, said, following the Nirbhaya judgment, Rs 1000 crore corpus had been allocated to several states for safety programmes of women, but none of it has been spent.
The Government of India -- which has signed the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly -- “does not follow the CEDAW dictum that police official will be jailed if they do not accept women’s complaints. Not accepting women’s complaint is the most common”, she underlined.
“The state government turned the Justice Varma committee’s ruling to have CCTVs in public places into a farce by placing it in BRTS’ Mahila buses”, she said, adding, “Several legal remedies, including PCPNDT or Pre Conception, Pre Natal Diagnostic Technique, banning sex determination tests, has also been turned into a farce. The sex ratio of 882 in Mehsana district, the most prosperous state, is an example.”
“Muslim women came to the meet with their faces covered to hide the marks of marital violence”, said Zakia Soman president of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, adding, “There were 330 gang rapes in 2002 in Gujarat. Triple Talaq is being discussed, none cares about them. Muslim women’s problems are sidelined. The Constitution accords equity, but the minority community women in this state have none.”
Trade union leader Priti Oza said, “The government does not have statistics for unorganised inter-state labour. They are all bonded labourers with no facilities for habitation, they live on the streets. These casual labour have to wait in ‘nakas’ unorganised labour market to get jobs and have to work for 12 hours.”
Speaking on the occasion, Kherunisa said, “We were assured of good days which we have not seen at all “ , recalling the violence and displacement suffered by hundreds during the 2002 riots, adding, the 89 internally displaced colonies all over Gujarat, where people live in inhuman conditions, are a grim reminder of the way the state government has treated them.
“Women in the tribal areas are sold as well as raped,” added Kusum, a tribal from Panchmahals. “We are landless and government does not give us an ear. They should follow the UN policies of rehabilitation.”