Monday, August 30, 2010

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression : Statement

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is deeply
concerned and disturbed by the news report *Raped repeatedly, Naxal
leader quits Red ranks* that appeared on page 1 of the Times of India,
dated August 24, 2010.
We unequivocally condemn any such violence and sexual assault
inflicted on women, irrespective of the perpetrator(s), whether state
or non state, in any situation, anywhere in the country. If the story
reported by a leading daily Times of India is correct, it is very
serious and condemnable and the woman is not safe; the law should take
its course and action should be taken against the accused. And if the
story has been planted or used by the state and establishment as some
seem to believe, we still fear for her safety from the police and
security forces now that she has surrendered. It needs to be ensured
that she will not be put under any pressure and that she will get
access to lawyers and family.
However, we question the responsibility of the media and its
credibility. Such reporting has serious implications and we as
feminists and women’s groups wish to draw the attention of TOI and its
readership to the following points in the interest of the privacy,
security and safety of women:
Firstly, the woman’s name and position have been revealed in the
report, which is against the norms of reporting of rape. The picture
in the newspaper is very clear and does little to hide her identity.
TOI’s concern for the woman in this respect is lacking.
Secondly, the report appears to be interested more in highlighting
such cases in a loose and highly sensational way rather than sticking
to facts with rigor. The report has conflated the very serious issue
of rape and sexual violence with issues of sexual choices. In fact,
the report uses statements like `she is caught in an ideology that she
cannot understand’ but makes no attempt to engage with her at an
intellectual level, even though she is reportedly an experienced
person and not merely a woman among men.
Thirdly, the story has not been substantiated as per journalistic
obligations. Why has the reporter not made any effort to get any
version of other sources- of perhaps differing hues?
Fourthly, TOI needs to be more impartial in its reporting of cases of
rape, irrespective of who the rapist is. We find that sexual violence
by the army, police and paramilitary forces, in the ongoing military
operations, is routinely ignored by the TOI as well as other media
sources. This continues to place innumerable women across the country
in extremely vulnerable situations; rapes and sexual assault of women
by police and paramilitary in Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, with
the inordinate and suffocating presence of the police and
paramilitary, has risen so high that fear and intimidation of women is
high too. It has become impossible for an assaulted woman to even
lodge an FIR. Many such survivors of rape in these regions have been
harassed and forced to withdraw their complaints.
Finally, the Home Minister has chosen to comment on the TOI story and
claim there are more such cases - whereas he has been studiously
silent on the many well documented instances where adivasi and poor
women have tried to pursue cases of rape against police, paramilitary
and SPOs. A recent example is that of an eighteen-year old girl in
Gajapati district of Orissa, allegedly Maoist, who was picked up from
her village in February along with another person, during combing
operations by security forces, gang-raped and is now languishing in
jail. No charge sheet has as yet been filed even after6 months. We
urge TOI to bring such stories to its readership across the country so
that these women also get some justice. We urge the entire media and
the government to break its silence on the miscarriage of justice in
the Khairlanji case.
As a national forum against sexual violence and state repression, we
assert that violence against women cannot and should not be used as
weapons of war, by the warring sides to score points against each
other. We are equal citizens of India- our sexuality cannot be used
against us. The state should allow free movement in these areas so
that it is possible to conduct impartial investigations of reports of
sexual violence against women. *
Committed to the struggle against sexual violence and state
Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression

WSS is a network of women's rights, dalit rights, human rights and
civil liberties organizations across India. It is a non-funded
grassroots effort by women to stem the violence being perpetrated upon
our bodies and on our societies by the State’s forces, by non-state
actors and by the inability of our government to resolve conflict in a
meaningful, sustainable and effective manner.
AIPWA (Delhi), AISA (Delhi), APDR (West Bengal), Action India, All
Deori Women Association (Assam), All Tiwa Women Association (Assam),
All Tripura Indigenous and Minority Association, Alternate Law Forum
(Karnataka), Ananya (Karnataka), Anhad (Delhi), Baiga Mahapanchayat
(Chhattisgarh), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Boro Women
Justice Forum (Assam), Borok Women Forum (Tripura), CAVOW, CPDR
(Maharashtra), Campaign for Justice and Peace (Karnataka),
Chhattisgarh Mahila Adhikar Manch, Chhattisgarh Mahila Mukti Morcha,
Dalit Adivasi Manch (Chhattisgarh), Dalit Stree Shakti (Andhra
Pradesh), HumAnE (Orissa), HRLN (Jammu & Kashmir), HRLN (Madhya
Pradesh), Hengasara Hakkina Sangha (Karnataka), Human Rights Alert
(Manipur), IRMA (Manipur), Indigenous Women’s Forum For North East
India, Jagori (Delhi), Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (Madhya
Pradesh), Jan Jagruti Manch (Chhattisgarh), Karbi Nimso Chingthur
Asong (Assam), Kuki Women Union (Manipur), Lalgarh Mancha (West
Bengal), Lokayata (Maharashtra), MARAA (Karnataka), Madhya Pradesh
Mahila Manch, NAPM (Karnataka), NBA (Madhya Pradesh), Naga Mothers’
Association, Naga People’s Movement for Human Rights, Naga Women’s
Union (Manipur), Namma Manasa (Karnataka), Nari Mukti Sanstha (Delhi),
Navsarjan (Gujarat), Naya Chhattisgarh Mahila Sangh, Nirantar (Delhi),
PSSK (Chhattisgarh), Patel Pat Chaunki (Chhattisgarh), Pratidhwani
(Delhi), PUCL-India, Rachna Manch, Rohidas Mahila Kalyan Samiti
(Chhattisgarh), Saheli (Delhi), Sahmet (Madhya Pradesh), Samajwadi Jan
Parishad (Madhya Pradesh), Samata Vedike (Karnataka), Samanatha Mahila
Vedike (Karnataka), Sangini (Madhya Pradesh), Vanangana (Uttar
Pradesh), Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha, Women’s Right Resource Center
(Madhya Pradesh), Yuva Samvaad (Madhya Pradesh), Stree Adhikar
Sanghatan (Uttar Pradesh), Stree Jagruti Samiti, Trade Union
Solidarity Committee (Maharashtra), WinG-India, Women Against
Militarization and State Violence (The Other Media, Delhi), Women’s
Right Resource Center, Women’s Education Forum (Chhattisgarh), Zomi
Mothers' Association (Manipur), and individuals.

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