People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 04

January 27, 2013



Human Chain against Sexual Violence on Feb 11


Sudha Sundararaman


THE AIDWA central executive committee meeting at Kolkata on January 20-21, 2012 has called for a nationwide signature campaign on a petition to the prime minister, with a charter of demands, to deal with sexual violence and crimes against women on an urgent basis. On February 11, AIDWA along with members of the SFI and the DYFI will form a human chain and take a pledge to continue the struggle for justice, intervene in cases of violence against women and inculcate values of gender equality.


AIDWA CEC also resolved to have widespread protests jointly with women’s organisations on March 8 – International Women’s Day, linking the ongoing violence to economic and social devaluation of women in a neo-liberal regime. The demand for 33 percent will be taken up as well.


The meeting, which was presided over by AIDWA president Shyamali Gupta, along with vice presidents, Subhashini Ali, Savithri Mazumdar and Rampari, passed a condolence resolution for the Delhi gangrape victim, and resolved to intensify the struggle for justice and equality. The general secretary, Sudha Sundararaman, while presenting the report on current developments, highlighted the different facets of violence that was being faced by women today, and stressed the need to intervene on them at many levels.  




The report noted that in the aftermath of the brutal gangrape of a 23 year old paramedical student in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012, women, students, youth along with other sections took to the streets in an unprecedented storm of protests. They laid siege to parliament braving water cannons and lathi charges by the police. The girl’s death on December 29, despite her courageous fight to live, sent the whole nation into mourning.  Seldom has the country seen such a mammoth reaction on an issue of violence against women. 


Many aspects of the crime provoked this spontaneous outburst. The inhuman brutality in a moving bus in a crowded area of the country’s capital served as a trigger for pent up resentment against insecurity and harassment in various forms that girls were facing almost daily. The frustration of being groped in crowded areas, or in buses, without recourse to justice, the sexist comments that demeaned and humiliated women, has fed into the anger. The extensive media coverage also played a role, giving constant updates of the girl’s brave battle, and of the protests that went on for days.


The protests also highlighted the glaring failure of the legal system as a whole. The repeated submissions to the government demanding changes in the rape laws have been met with apathy. Now, after the pressure mounted from all quarters, two committees have been set up to examine the legal aspects. But the biggest problem of implementation remains. AIDWA, along with the other national women’s organisations has submitted a detailed memorandum, highlighting the changes required to ensure justice. Kirti Singh from AIDWA had made a detailed presentation to Justice Verma Committee on this. Speedy trials, certainty of punishment, accountability of the police, proper rehabilitation and support, all have to be guaranteed.




In the aftermath of the gangrape, the worst kind of sexist and regressive comments were being made by conservative sections including BJP and RSS leaders, and so called ‘god men’. Many of these statements justify sexual crimes against women by blaming them for becoming victims of assault rather than focusing on the crimes of the perpetrators. A number of fatwas denying use of mobile phones for women and restricting their mobility after sunset were issued by khap panchayats and Muslim fundamentalists across the country. AIDWA has demanded that the Supreme Court view expressed in Court recently that banning mobile phones, and issuing dress codes is illegal, should be acted upon by the government, and appropriate action taken against those issuing such diktats. In Puducherry, the announcement by the education minister that girls would have to wear a coat to school, as a knee jerk reaction to the abduction and rape of a school student, was vehemently opposed by AIDWA and others, forcing the minister to revoke the diktat. 


AIDWA CEC also strongly condemned the fascist assaults on freedom of expression in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka and in many other states which are an alarming indicator of intolerance. In all these cases, sec 66A of IT Act has been used. AIDWA has demanded removal of the sec 66A of the IT Act since it is being used widely to quash the democratic rights and freedom of expression.


The CEC expressed shock that the West Bengal state government has refused to accept a joint memorandum from women’s groups about the growing incidents of violence against women in the state. With panchayat elections drawing near in West Bengal, violence perpetrated by the ruling TMC is reaching a new high. The shameful and brutal attack on Devlina Hembram, ST woman MLA from Ranibandh, Bankura, inside the West Bengal assembly by members of the ruling party in which she was pushed down on the floor of the house and kicked and trampled on, depicted the extent of lawlessness under the TMC. The increase in political violence at a time when atrocities against women in the state also continue unabated, suggest that chaos and administrative inaction are being fostered deliberately from the highest level of the government in preparation for unleashing a reign of terror during the panchayat elections. This will surely affect the participation of women in the elections at a time when 50 percent seats are to be reserved for women. AIDWA has resolved that it will continue to resist the culture of political violence being fostered by the ruling party in the state.


In an era of neo-liberalisation, the privatisation of all welfare schemes and earlier governmental obligations in areas such as education and health is sought for private profit maximisation. AIDWA strongly opposed the replacement of subsidised food grains, kerosene, LPG and fertilisers with cash. In a period of high inflation, cash transfers to replace subsidised goods is meant to actually cut subsidies since the cash to be transferred will not cover the increased costs of the same amount of subsidised food grains, kerosene, gas  or fertilisers. Having cash transfers would end up in dismantling the PDS and procurement from farmers. It will lead to increasing malnutrition and hunger in the country, which will have a worst impact on women and children. AIDWA has demanded universal PDS with minimum entitlement of 35 kgs at a price not more than Rs 2 per kg, and has resolved to strengthen the struggle for comprehensive food security legislation in the coming days.


A resolution supporting the two day strike called by the trade unions was passed.


AIDWA patron Brinda Karat spoke at the meeting highlighting the role of young women in the movement against violence, and emphasising the importance of involving them at all levels in all our struggles and organisational work. She explained the intentions of the UPA government with regard to replacing goods with cash transfers, and underlined the need for survey based intervention on the issue.




Bihar committee of AIDWA was warmly greeted for accepting to host the 10th national conference of AIDWA, which is due in November 2013. The membership review which was conducted showed renewal of membership had been completed, and the total members had crossed One crore ten lakhs, and was poised to grow further. The CEC determined to make more efforts to consolidate the membership through unit level struggles and activities, and move for expansion so that more and more women would join in the struggle for equality and emancipation.