Report by correspondent of Mazdoor Ekta Committee
On March 19, a joint march by women’s organisations was held from Parliament Street to Jantar Mantar, in support of the protesting wrestlers. The march culminated in a rally at the protest site, where large numbers of women and men, including hundreds of youth, gathered to express their solidarity with the wrestlers.
The march and rally were jointly organised by Purogami Mahila Sangathan, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) Delhi, All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan (AIMSS), ANHAD, Centre for Struggling Women (CSW), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) Delhi, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan Delhi, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Delhi, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre and Indian Christian Women’s Movement Delhi.
Representatives of the participating organisations addressed the rally. They demanded immediate action against Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, MP and President, Wrestling Federation of India, who has been accused by the wrestlers of repeated sexual abuse, including of minor girls. They denounced the police for initially refusing to register an FIR against the accused, compelling the wrestlers to approach the Supreme Court. They sternly criticised the police and authorities for physically assaulting and intimidating the protestors.
The speakers drew attention to the repeated acts of sexual assault and other forms of violence on women, by those in positions of power. Women is all fields, not just in sports, are forced to silently accept various forms of sexual abuse and torture, in the course of their work and in public spaces. The Indian state and its institutions, including the courts and the judiciary, do not protect the rights and dignity of women. They are brutally insensitive to the plight of women victims of rape and sexual violence. In most cases, the perpetrators are allowed to go scot-free, while the victims are blamed and forced to provide proof of the crimes committed against them!
In these circumstances, the bold struggle that the wrestlers are waging, against such heavy odds, is a source of inspiration to all the women and all oppressed people in the society, the speakers highlighted. They pledged their full support to the struggling wrestlers and called on women and men all over the country to come out on to the streets in their support.
Youth presented militant songs in support of the wrestlers’ struggle. Activists presented poems hailing the courage of the wrestlers. A street play performed by young women, depicting the violence on women in our society and highlighting the path of unity and struggle, attracted a large audience. The rally concluded with calls for further actions in support of the struggle of the wrestlers, until their demands are met.
A joint memorandum addressed to the Union Home Minister and the Union Sports Minister, was issued by all the women’s organisations on the occasion (See Memorandum).