‘Dilli chuppi todo’ Break the silence, Delhi! The campaign continues

‘Dilli chuppi todo’ Break the silence, Delhi! The campaign continues

Newsletter May - Aug 2009

Dowry deaths, rape, stripping and molestation. Instances of violence on women get reported every day in the audiovisual and print media and yet the apathy against violence on women has probably never been higher. In times like this, it is even more important to highlight such incidents and campaign/protest strategies have to be eye-catching to get public attention. The Centenary Committee established to commemorate 100 years of International Women’s Day did exactly that on 19th June to highlight the violence on women. The second event was held on 22nd July and the committee will continue to hold these protests every month till March 2010.Against the backdrop of the rape and murder of two Kashmir women in Shopian, and various instances of violence in Delhi, we rejuvenated an old campaign of ours parts of the Centenary Committee. Through this action, we appeal to people in Delhi to speak out against atrocities on women taking place on a daily basis. In the past we had gathered at various locations in the city – the busy ITO crossing, Dilli Haat, Dhaula Kuan and the Moolchand flyover with gigantic fluorescent yellow and green placards saying ‘Dilli Chuppi Todo – Hinsa Roko’, (Delhi, Break the Silence, Stop Violence) sung songs, initiated discussions (and hopefully made a wee bit of difference). This time many groups and individuals joined hands as we gathered outside the bustling Patel Chowk Metro station with similar placards. In addition we also distributed a leaflet which highlighted the spectrum of violence women encounter - from sex-selective abortions, to caste- religion- community- sexual orientation-based targeting of women, rape and molestation to sexual harassment on the streets and workplaces.

The women’s movement has highlighted these issues in various fora and for various purposes - getting justice, formulating new laws and modifying old ones, setting up preventive measures and punitive actions. However, the instances of violence seem to be increasing. It is imperative that we constantly remind ourselves and others of how insecure women's lives continue to be - appealing to people to bread their silence and come forward for the prevention of crimes against women, with the hope that one day, we will be able to live in safer and more just society.

In our leaflet addressed to public and the government, we reiterated to the public and the government, we reiterated that it is imperative to build gender sensitivity into all educational curricula. The government must show greater commitment in implementing laws related to violence against women. In this context, it is crucial to address and change the attitudes and prejudices in the minds of the police, the judiciary, and even government appointed counsellors, through gender sensitisation. Besides, there is an urgent need to drastically increase the provision of safe homes/shelters for women in distress.

But even as we go to press, story after story of violence against women pose grim reminders of the challenges ahead.

> Deepika Bajaj, a 28 year old woman, married for 7 years was being harassed for dowry by husband and in-laws. She was

burnt alive in her Krishna Nagar house in Delhi. The police have arrested the in-laws but the husband is absconding.

> A Captain of the Indian Army, posted at the Army Service Corps battalion at Kalka in Haryana, who had levelled charges of physical and mental torture against three of her senior officers last year, has been court martialled and dismissed from service. It is appalling, but sadly predictable too, that several charges, including levelling false allegations against senior officers, disobedience and violation of orders were made against her to remove her from service.

> A Burmese refugee woman who had gone to a government hospital, the Lady Hardinge Medical College, for treatment for her sick child, was raped by an unidentified man. Highlighting yet again, the precariousness of life for refugee

women in the city.

> A 22 year old married woman has alleged that she was raped by 3 of her husbands’ friends when she sought some financial help from them.

> A minor girl who worked as a domestic worker in Vasant Kunj area of Delhi was sold to a man who raped her.

...and not to forget the recent Patna incident in which a sex worker was brazenly stripped in public! A shameful act, witnessed and photographed by countless by standers and widely reported in the media.