Thursday, November 8, 2012

Demonstration Held Against Increasing Spate of Sexual Violence in Haryana

On Tuesday 16 October New Socialist Initiative (NSI) demonstrated at Haryana Bhawan at Copernicus Marg, New Delhi to condemn the Haryana government’s indifference to the rising cases of rape and other sexual violences against women As a mark of protest a memorandum addressed to the Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda was also submitted.

Apart from New Socialist Initiative (NSI), the memorandum was endorsed by Stree Mukti Sangthan, New Trade Union Initiative, National Alliance for People's Movement, Program for Social Action, People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) and Nirantar amongst others.

A delegation consisting of Anjali Sinha from Stree Mukti Sanghatan, Praveen Kumar from New Socialist Initiative (NSI, Kusum from Jagori and Vikas from PUDR went to hand over the memorandum.

Below is the text of the memorandum:

Haryana has witnessed atrocities on Dalits and women. This is not new and has a long history in Haryana – Gohana, Dulina and more recently Mirchpur, are some of the more recent instances of caste violence. Rape cases in Haryana in the last one month has tolled 19 till today. The most recent is a case of gang rape in the ‘world class city’ of Gurgaon of a 6 years old minor. Out of these 19 cases, 12 are Dalit women and 3 are minors. This last case reported is not even 40 km away from the national Capital of Delhi.

The State is responsible for the protection of its citizens and their right to live freely in a democratic society, free of discrimination on the basis of gender and caste. However, the series of rape cases in the last one month goes to show that women are not safe in any part of Haryana. They reflect the brutal face of patriarchy in Haryana which is enhanced in this neo-liberal era where caste councils like Khap Panchayats pass the most oppressive judgments against women frequently. In the latest statement, Khap Panchayats in Haryana have suggested that women and girls can be ‘saved’ from these incidents of rapes by getting them married before they attain puberty. We condemn such a response that deflects attention away from the issue of assertion of caste dominance through violence against women to instead reinforce control over women and their right to make free choices about their own bodies.

Per capita income in Haryana is one of the highest in the whole country. This is in stark contrast to the not so admirable sex ratio, which is the lowest in the whole country. These rape cases cannot be seen separately from the larger social structure of Haryana, where due to this low sex ratio (720 female on every 1000 males) women are bought and brought back home from faraway places of Northeast India, Kerala, Nepal, and Andhra Pradesh, etc. More than 40% men are unmarried and Khap Panchayats’ norms and rules of who one can marry and who one cannot has seriously exacerbated this situation. Those who defy these norms are met with harsh action by Khap Panchayats.

Rape against women has historically been used as a demonstration of male power over women, as a way of ‘putting them in their place’ by restricting their mobility and controlling the use of their bodies. In Haryana rape is not only used to exert power of men over women, but also to assert caste dominance. This violence is at times justified in the name of honour, where battles over caste honour are fought over the bodies of women, and at others in the name of saving culture.

Politicians such as INLD leader and former CM Omprakash Chautala and Congress leader from Hisar Dharamvir Goyat have issued most objectionable statements on the issue, where Chautala backed the Khap Panchayat’s suggestion of early marriage, and Goyat has claimed that in more than 90% of the rape cases these occurred with the consent of women. Finally, the police’s blatant inaction on the issue of social and gender justice is most condemnable.

We demand:
1) Speedy action in all cases of rape.
2) Appoint fast track courts to render quick justice in all cases of violence against women and Dalits.
3) Implement SC/ST Atrocity Act in the cases of rape against Dalit women.
4) Take strict action against the police inaction.


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