INSIST – PERSIST – RESIST!!

The Constitution of India guarantees all its citizens justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. As we work out the balance sheet of the year gone by, we ask: Have the elected representatives used their mandate to assure our basic rights and entitlements? Have they worked to ensure the dignity and integrity of all citizens irrespective of gender, caste, religion, class, dis/ability, region, sexuality and race? Have they done anything to reduce or eliminate the destructive politics that makes the most powerless – especially women and girls – vulnerable to patriarchal, casteist, communal and capitalist forces.

On the contrary, what we see is an ominous gathering of divisive forces with regressive ideologies, armed with hatred that aims to fragment the society. These forces are destroying the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable communities including the poor, Dalits, adivasis, Muslims, the queer and people with disabilities, while the powerful passively stand by and watch.

It is extremely worrisome that India’s richest 1% garnered as much as 73% of the total wealth generated in the country in 2017 (according to a new survey by international rights group Oxfam). This year’s Union budget has cut its gender component from 0.69% to 0.65% of the GDP.  While Nirbhaya fund remains largely unutilised, rape, rape culture and other manifestations of gender-based violence are increasing under the patronage of the current political dispensation whose own representatives blatantly continue to make misogynistic statements. Each passing day witnesses relentless attacks on the Constitution of India and its democratic and secular values.

TOGETHER, WE INSIST ON!

  • Socio-Economic and Political Justice
    • The Women’s Reservation Bill pending in the Lok Sabha to be tabled on a priority basis.
    • Women and girls must be recognised as equals within the domestic sphere, the community, socio-political and work spaces.
    • The policy makers do not turn a blind eye to the report released by the Niti Aayog on the need to check sex-selective abortion. The sex ratio at birth (SRB) saw a decline in 17 out of 21 large states of the country, with Gujarat recording an alarming dip of 53 points.
    • Freedom from discrimination and invisibilisation for women with disabilities and their right to access all spaces – both public and private.
    • Increase in employment opportunities for women.
    • Equal pay for equal work.
    • Safety of all women workers in the unorganised and organised sectors: in fields, quarries, on construction sites, in factories, on the streets, in educational institutions, offices, on public transport and of course, inside their own home.
    • End to the inhuman practice of manual scavenging.
    • Affirmation of the meaning of consent on all platforms – judicial, socio-legal, personal, professional and political, so that women can live their lives with dignity, bodily integrity and respect.
    • Repeal of draconian laws such as UAPA and AFSPA accompanied by demilitarisation, especially in the North-Eastern states, Kashmir and Chhattisgarh to eventually usher in an atmosphere of peace and not mistrust and war.
  • End to Gender-based Violence
    • Recognition of marital rape as a crime and its inclusion in the IPC.
    • An end to the impunity of religious heads who misuse their power to sexually harass and assault women and girls.
    • Stopping the practice of khatna (or khafd) or female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C), that is prevalent in a few communities in India.
    • Transgender people accessing their rights as citizens, including the right to life, equality, dignity, safety and livelihood.
    • Reading down of Section 377 IPC to decriminalise homosexuality and affirm consensual adult relationships.
    • Protection of the human rights of the women in sex work and ensuring their meaningful participation in all discussions that impact them, including reviewing laws, policies and social entitlements.
  • Liberty of Thought, Belief, Expression, Faith and Worship
    • Freedom to express thoughts and dissent and question policies, without being tagged as unpatriotic and anti-national, and the sword of Damocles of colonial, archaic sedition laws perpetually hanging over one’s heads. An end to the systematic targeting of university students across the country.
    • Freedom for women to take a new faith by choice as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and to decide on a partner of her own choice, without fear of coercion from family, community, political parties, the judiciary and the state.
    • No more moral policing or “(dis)honour” killings!
    • Gender justice and equality in all laws including personal laws.
    • Consultation with women’s organisations on the bill to purportedly provide protection to Muslim women from triple talaq. Also refer the bill to a parliamentary select committee.

TOGETHER, WE SHALL PERSIST IN!

  • Fighting for Equality of Status and of Opportunity
    End to atrocities on and violence and discrimination against dalits, adivasis and people from minority communities.
    End to mandatory linking of Aadhaar to essential services, rights and entitlements like the Public Distribution System (PDS).
    Free quality education and healthcare for all. Ensuring that increasing privatisation of education and healthcare (as seen in various new policies) does not absolve the state from its responsibilities.
    NO cutting down of education, health and social welfare budget.

TOGETHER, WE RESIST!

  • Regressive ideologies hyped in the name of tradition and culture that curtails human rights and dignity of women and girls (like the recent glorification of Sati/Jauhar).
  • All attempts to create regressive changes in our history, geography, biology and indeed, all sciences.
  • The use of punishment of death penalty for any crime.
  • Dilution of laws (such as section 498A IPC) that offer women some recourse against violence and discrimination. Calling them draconian, anti-family and anti-men; and the institutional backlash by the state, police and judiciary on women. Section 498A was inserted in the IPC after a sustained struggle by women’s organisations to ensure justice to women. We shall continue our struggle for justice – our voices cannot be suppressed!

संघर्ष की राह पर अब, चलना है साथियो
बंधन सब तोड़ने हैं अब, लड़ना है साथियो

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