Call on the Occasion of March 8

Tom Lalibert?ɬ, Mardi, Février 28, 2006 - 14:41


Call on the Occasion of March 8


As March 8 approaches this year the women’s movement is confronted with an unprecedented increase in the overall violence against women, and particularly state violence. Under the impact of the imperialist sponsored new economic policies of globalization, women are facing increased exploitation and repression in various ways — both feudal patriarchal as also from a sexist consumerist culture. There has been a increase in so-called dowry deaths, female foeticide, sexual exploitation, rape, etc. As a result more and more women are joining the struggles against the anti-people, traitorous policies of the Central and State Governments. They are also becoming active participants in the revolutionary struggle against this corrupt and discredited system.

As the resistance of women is growing the government and state have been attacking women with increased brutality, particularly against those participating in the revolutionary movement for their total emancipation. But women have been fighting back. And they are becoming targets of repression by the State and its agencies. On the International Working Women’s Day this year let us focus on exposing and opposing the police and other forms of state violence against women in general and the revolutionary women’s movement in particular.

March 8, last year, dawned with the repression on the Mahila Mukti Manch’s (Chattisgarh) attempts to celebrate International Women’s Day. By converting Ambikapur and its outskirts into an armed police garrison to prevent women from gathering for the program, the state administration revealed its real face towards the goal of equality and liberation for women. Then Chattisgarh’s Raman Singh’s BJP led Government went ahead and officially banned the Krantikari Adivasi Mahila Sanghtana (KAMS) active in the southern part of the State. In Bihar’s Aurangabad district too the Rabri Devi Government disrupted the celebration of March 8 last year. In Daltonganj (Jharkhand) not only did the local police stop women from going for the program but also kept them hungry all night and then forced them to climb a truck filled with boulders. The truck turned turtle and five women were martyred on the spot. Throughout the year there have been various incidents of police attacks and killings of women involved with revolutionary politics or suspected of being so involved. Lalmani an organizer of the Nari Mukti Sangh in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand was arrested on January 5, 2005 and has since not been heard of. In Sept 05 three innocent minor adivasi girls were picked up by the commando force men from near Bendur in Chamorshi tehsil of Gadhchiroli district, raped and shot at. While Gita Tulavi and Sunita Madavi died on the spot, Sushila Tulavi was injured. She is now languishing in jail. This is a clear case of victims becoming the accused while the accused commandos roam free. Several women PLGA members have died fighting these armed mercenaries of the ruling classes. We hail the martyrdom of all these women who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of liberating society and especially women.

The State’s most widespread and brutal attack on women is taking place in the villages and forests of Bastar (Chattisgarh) and West and East Singhbhum (Jharkhand) in the name of Jan Jagaran (mass arousal). Called Salwa Judem in Bastar and Sendra in Jharkhand, these campaigns have created a reign of terror among the masses residing in these areas. In Bastar, ruling class politicians, in the pay of imperialists and compradors greedily eyeing the rich mineral wealth of these regions, are brutally attacking women and children also as part of their all round campaign to crush the revolutionary movement. Protected and aided by the specially trained commando Naga Battalion, these corrupt politicians led by Mahendra Karma and Kedar Kashyap, and their notorious anti-people cohorts have attacked villages, burnt houses, destroyed assets, beaten up men, women, children and even killed them. Women have been molested and raped by the goons of these politicians and the CRPF, Naga Battalion and local police. They are being dragged to police stations and beaten and tortured there. From June to October 2005, 25 women from 10 villages have been raped and 6 raped and killed. Among those killed was a pregnant woman Vendije Nangi from Mukawalli village (Bijapur tehsil). Competing with the Hindutva goons in their bestiality, they ripped open her stomach after shooting her and then again shot her and the foetus. Indeed no words can describe the cruelty and brutality displayed by the men in uniform with these and other women. As in the North East and Kashmir in the heart of India too they are using rape as a means of suppressing the people’s movement These accounts reveal the ruthlessness of the Indian State and its decision to crush the revolutionary movement at any cost.

In Andhra Pradesh in spite of the Congress coming to power last year criticizing the Naidu Govt for its repression, the Congress Govt has surpassed Chandrababu Naidu in its repressive tactics. It began with the arrest and killing of Laxmi, an executive member of the APCMS (AP Chaitanya Mahila Samakhya) on January 8, last year. Since then the women’s movement is under attack by vigilante groups functioning in close league with the state police. The Narsi Cobras, and similar cobras, which are nothing but fronts formed by the special police, have been threatening to kill active members of the APCMS. They have prepared and openly publicized hit lists, which include prominent and active members of various democratic organizations including the office bearers of APCMS, Sujatha, Swaroopa and others. These so-called Cobras have also targeted women artists like Sandhya and student leader Sneha. These hit lists and threatening phone calls are not empty threats. They bring to memory the manner in which the powerful singer from Telengana, Belli Lalitha was killed and brutally cut up by one such vigilante gang with the active connivance of the police. They are a clear indication of the manner in which the Andhra Pradesh Government and its police wing seek to deal with militant opposition. Similar is the situation that is being faced by women in Kashmir and the North East where the various nationalities are struggling for their right to self-determination.

In Jharkhand as the Munda government intensifies its repressive mechanism incidents of molestation of women have increased in the past few months. The long range patrolling commandos raped Prabhadevi from Latehar on 11th November, while two women from Behra village (Pirta thana) in Giridih were gang raped on 18th November.

Women revolutionaries are languishing in the various jails of the country under draconian laws like TADA and POTA or on trumped up charges, their only crime being that they yearn for liberation for them and the oppressed masses and have either supported or participated in the struggle for revolutionary change. Irrespective of the party in power at the State, whether Maharashtra’s Congress govt, or West Bengal’s CPM govt, or BJP govts in Chattisgarh and Jharkhand they are facing harassment and ill treatment. Even their basic rights as political prisoners are denied to them. Chaili Pelga/Sarita of Midapalli village, Gadhchiroli has been sentenced to life imprisonment under TADA. Shanti and Elisabha arrested for organizing the Nari Mukti Sangh in West Singhbhum last year are still languishing in jail. Vinita a state committee member of the Nari Mukti Sangh, and her grandmother, and Nitu, another activist arrested in October 2004, activists from West and East Champaran, Nisha, Anju and Manju, district committee members of the NMS arrested and tortured last year and others are all still languishing in jail. Vinita delivered a baby just a month after her arrest but continued to be under detention. Saroj from Bihar was arrested in August and Gita and Vinita activists from Rohtas were arrested in December 2005. They are facing prolonged detention for trying to assert their basic democratic right to profess political views, to join a mass organization and to be socially active.

But it is not only the women’s movement but also ordinary women who are facing the increasing brutalisation and arrogant unbridled power of the police and state machinery. Thousands and thousands go unreported. We all know how judiciary acquitted all the accused in Banwari Devi case. ("We can’t believe these people would have committed such a heinous crime.") Even women like Indian Air Force flying officer Anjali Gupta who was summarily dismissed for exposing sexual harassment by superiors, IAS officer Nalini Netto who fought against Congress Minister Neelalohidadasan Nadar, IAS officer Anjali Mishra who hauled Super Cop KPS Gill upto Apex court were unable to get justice from this rotten mainstream. As various sections of the people resist the disastrous effects of the anti-people policies of the government, the police are being increasingly armed and given unlimited powers to deal with the people and suppress their protests and resistance. Ordinary women are at the receiving end of the corrupt, patriarchal police force. College girls from Aligarh, Meerut and other towns faced the full fury of the feudal patriarchal arrogance of Uttar Pradesh police’s Operation Majnu carried out under media glare. The manner in which young lovers, esp. girls were beaten and humiliated in full view of professional photographers and TV cameras was shocking and broke all norms of professional conduct by the police. Skeletons dugout after 22 years reveal how the Andhra Pradesh police succeeded in convicting the husband (now Editor, People’s March) to life imprisonment in Hydrabad jail by filming the raping of his wife in illegal custody and with that further blackmailing her to perform porn scenes using high resolution video camera forcing her to tender false evidence (false motive supporting the prosecution version) so that her voices are maimed for ever and she won’t turn hostile during trial. An extremely corrupted, immoral and an organized criminal police force in collusion with criminalized politicians are completely involved in such heinous activities of the State acts illegally to teach morality to the young.

The molestation and rape of eight Bodo college girls in Assam by recruits of Haryana’s India Reserve Battalion on December 24th is another prominent incident that proves this patriarchal arrogance of the police. They were molested after they climbed into a train compartment occupied by these army men on their way to college. Only active protests by their fellow students forced the authorities to take action. Three students died in the firing resorted to by the police to suppress their protest. The matter did not end here. A few days later, at the inquiry before the SP of Bongaigaon, these girls and representatives of organizations who came to assist them were treated as culprits rather than victims forcing them to protest once again.

Even in major metropolises like Mumbai and Delhi incidents of women being harassed and sexually assaulted by the police are increasing. The rape of a young college girl near the beachfront in Mumbai in broad daylight by a drunken policeman, the rape of a 15 year old rag picker by a patrolling policeman near the international airport in the same city, the murder of lovers and wives by police officers show that the so called protectors of the law are themselves the biggest violators of women’s rights and their dignity. Women face threats from the men in uniform. These are some incidents, which have gained publicity, but there are many more, which are taking place, but go unreported. As the imperialist sponsored sex industry expands its tentacles in India and a culture abusive of women’s dignity and self, that promotes the exposure and utilization of her body grows women are being increasingly trapped into the sex industry. There they face not only abuse by men but also the insult and abuse by the so called guardians of morality, the police, while the main people earning crores from this business move around as respectable members of society. Workingwomen are facing violence at the work front due to the profit only attitude of companies. BPO employee Pratibha’s rape and murder reveals the situation facing workingwomen. Ordinary women too are suffering the impact of this culture; the increase in numbers of molestation and rape is a pointer to this. Delhi alone reported 600 cases of rape in 2005!

The police, the judiciary and the Government – the State – are also oppressors of women. Notwithstanding its claims to stand for equality for women in formal declarations and laws, the Indian State is an oppressor of women and an opponent of their real struggle for liberation. These incidents expose its anti-woman, patriarchal character. It is therefore inevitable that all other forms of violence against women – in the womb, in the home, in marriage, in the caste, on the streets, at the workplace are increasing. The Indian State, the upholder and protector of this feudal, imperialist patriarchal social order, is sanctioning and itself perpetrating violence against women.

On March 8, as we pledge to take the struggle for the full emancipation of women it is clear that only by overthrowing this exploitative and unjust socio-economic system and the State that defends it, only by a revolutionary transformation can success be achieved. Destroying the power of the feudal lords, imperialists and comprador bourgeoisie who gain from patriarchy, and the State that upholds it, can clear the path for women’s complete liberation. Women in the fields and forests of the country are increasingly realizing this and are joining the revolutionary struggle to make their dream come true. They are overcoming obstacles to join the struggle, facing tremendous odds and difficulties to continue the struggle. Many have been martyred in the struggle. We call upon all women in India not to commit suicide on facing miseries and torture and gain strength and courage as history proves an illiterate dalit Phoolan Devi was right to take guns to resist the oppressors and take to the path of revolution to fight back the state attacks on women and for the total emancipation of women, overthrowing the entire system that oppresses them.

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