A massive meeting was held by the All India Democratic Womens’ Association (AIDWA) on the theme ‘Save India Convention Against Assault on Women’s Citizenship Rights’. The background of the meeting was laid down by Malini Bhattacharya, President, AIDWA. She said, “Without struggle, women will not get equal rights in this country.”
This meeting was held so as to rally women to fight and protect the democratic and secular fabric of our country. Mariam Dhawale, General Secretary, AIDWA, speaking on the occasion said, “The communal and fascist forces who have come to power at the centre and the states have been targeting the minorities, especially Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis and women. With their belief in Manusmriti and with those thoughts, they want to change the outlook for our country. Their attacks have affected women the most.”
Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau, CPI(M), was the chief guest of the convention. She said the policies of the government are negatively affecting the women of this country. And the responsibility of resisting these policies is first on women. “We all know if the women come together, no force in this country can suppress us,” she added. Comrade Brinda said that the present government run by the BJP takes its inspiration from the Manusmriti. She said, “Hindutva, is inspired by the Manusmriti and hate politics, but on the other hand it is on the side of the rich. Who has benefited from the Hindutva rule? Adani, Ambani, Mittal and all the big capitalists in the last three years have increased their wealth by 10 percent. Today 58 percent of the country’s wealth is in the hands of 1 percent of the population of the country. And here we have people like Santoshi who die of hunger because they are not provided food grains through ration shops. This is the economic face of the Hindutva policies.”
This convention was addressed by women members of the victims who were targeted by right-wing forces. Shaista, daughter of Akhlaq Khan, recalled the fateful night when her father was killed. She asked what kind of justice was it "when the killers of my father are given employment in government bodies like NTPC and my brother who is educated has not been supported by the government at all?”
Anita Minz, an Adivasi from Jharkhand said that on August 19 her husband was attacked and injured by Gaurakshaks. The police, instead of taking him to the hospital, kept him in lockup where he died. The people responsible for the killing are roaming freely. She said with a heavy heart, “Even now they have not given the death certificate. The police and the hospital authorities are not even helping.”
Saira, the mother of Junaid, the young man who was allegedly stabbed to death in a hate crime on a Delhi bound train, spoke at the convention saying, “We are asking them for justice and the police are trying to derail the process by applying less stringent sections on the accused. And people are trying all kinds of tricks to make us withdraw the case," said Saira. "There is nothing more precious than one’s child and we will fight for justice," she concluded
The Sangh Parivar-influenced forces operate not only on the ground by terrorizing people – in the name of Gauraksha, love jihad, etc, but also in the virtual world. There are numerous paid and unpaid trolls who spread hate and target people who do not conform to the diktats of the ruling establishment. Gurmehar Kaur was one such victim of online trolls, but she fought back bravely. She received numerous threats when she expressed her wish to have friendly relations between countries and said that war was a wasteful exercise. Speaking at the convention, Gurmehar said, “I have grown up in the company of women. In the house, there was no male member [her father and others were in the army]. I feel humbled to be honoured by a women’s association.” She recollected how people were appreciative of her by saying that she was “graceful” when she took on the trolls bravely. She said, “From day one, for being a woman or girl, we are on the back foot and have to struggle double to get something, as compared to a man or a boy.” Kaur said she herself had to struggle and that is what prepared her to face the trolls.
Kirti Singh, an advocate in the Supreme Court, also addressed the convention on the laws crucial for the establishment of the democratic rights of women and said that they were being diluted. AIDWA leaders Subhashini Ali, Durga Swami, and Neena Sharma also spoke at the convention.
As part of their future struggles, the convention called for the following programmes:
Signature Campaign against dilution of Sec 498A of IPC.
Observance of Savitribai Phule birth anniversary on 3 January 2018 as a day of protest against regressive ideology.
Observance of 30 January 2018 as a Communal Harmony Day.
Building struggles to protect our rights to food and work.