Hundreds of women and men across Delhi, from nearly 15 different organizations, came together in militant protest actions at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on December 16. The brutal gang rape and murder of a young women in Delhi on this day two years ago, had brought hundreds of people out on to the streets, demanding that the state ensure security for women. The meeting this year was held under the banner: “For freedom and equality of women, against communal violence”.
The stage at Jantar Mantar was decorated with a large banner bearing the above theme and the names of the participating organizations. There were banners boldly proclaiming the participants’ opposition to all forms of violence and injustice on women, with slogans such as – “An attack on one is an attack on all!”, “With political power in our hands we will end oppression and injustice!”, “The right to take policy decisions must belong to the people!”
The participating organizations included AIDWA, AIPWA, Anhad, Guild of Service, Jagori, JWP, NFIW, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan, Swastik Mahila Sangathan, War Widows Association, YWCA and others.
The program began with a representative from each of the participating organizations taking her place in the presidium on the stage. Activists of Jagori powerfully rendered a song expressing the sentiments of women for their liberation. Following this, representatives of the participating organizations addressed the meeting.
Speakers unanimously denounced the state for failing in its responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of women, thereby effectively denying women the right to work, travel and participate in public life. They denounced the government and the main political parties for actively promoting communal hatred and other forms of sectarian strife, using the state apparatus to carry out organized communal violence and genocide, in which women are the worst affected victims.
Women have always been in the forefront of the struggle on all fronts, against the economic offensive in the form of globalization through liberalization and privatization, against the feudal beliefs and practices that are oppressive to women, against all forms of exploitation and injustice, against state organized communal and divisive violence. Speakers highlighted the many struggle women all over the country have waged and continue to wage, shoulder to shoulder with the men. They demanded that all those guilty of crimes against women should be severely punished, regardless of their political or administrative positions or the influence and power they wield on the state. They criticized the government’s proposed amendments to the labour laws, explaining how these measures would further enrich the big monopoly capitalists, Indian and foreign, while leading to even more severe exploitation of working women and men.
“Why should we have faith in this system which only works in the interests of the big monopoly capitalists, which has failed us on all counts?”, asked the spokesperson of Purogami Mahila Sangathan, calling upon all sisters and brothers to unite in one powerful movement, to put an end to the present system and build a new system in which we, the working women and men will be the decision makers. We can then ensure that the economy works to fulfill our needs, that no one dares to violate our rights and dignity.
The barbaric oppression of dalit women was highlighted by the speaker of Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan. The speaker of Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan called for advancing the struggle to build a new society free from all forms of exploitation. The right of women to take decisions about their education, career and way of life was raised by some speakers, while others elaborated on how women are the worst victims of violations of human rights.
The program concluded with songs presented by activists of JWP, Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan and cultural activists from Delhi University, calling on women and men to unite and fight, to end the prevalent darkness and usher in the dawn of freedom, equality and dignity.