Raising slogans of unity and resistance, thousands of women from 23 states across the country marched resolutely, under the banner of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), from Mandi House to Parliament Street in New Delhi on September 4, 2018.This massive gathering was organized to draw the nation’s attention to the unprecedented rise in communal and other forms of violence against women and the denial of decent work and right to food under the Modi regime. Crimes against women and children have increased by 34% in the last four years. Victims and other persons fighting for justice against such crimes addressed the rally. A resolution was adopted vowing to confront and change this state of affairs, refusing to be silenced by the BJP-RSS promoted culture of fear and standing up for equality and basic rights enshrined in the Constitution. Women resolved to expose the Sangh Parivar and the Modi-led government for the failure to deliver on their promises.
The women who addressed the rally systematically demonstrated how the government led by Narendra Modi and supported by the Sangh Parivar is a lethal combination of reactionary and communal ideology and corporate neo-liberal policies. They also showed the spirit of resistance and hope by demonstrating how they, in their own ways, were working towards resisting such political forces in order to work towards social transformation and systemic change.
This perspective was highlighted by Brinda Karat, the Patron of AIDWA and leader of the women’s movement who spoke on the challenges before women in the current political situation. The rally was presided over by Malini Bhattacharya (President)and was addressed by Subhashini Ali (Vice President)and Asha Sharma (Delhi State Secretary), among others. The Resolution of the rally was placed by Mariam Dhawale (General Secretary).
The rally also witnessed heart rending testimonies of men and women who are struggling for justice for victims of violence and right-wing vigilantism. Deepika Rajawat (Advocate for the Kathua victim) spoke about the professional abuse and political consequences she had to face when she took up the Kathua case. Mahesh Singh Makkhi (the uncle of the Unnao victim and a petitioner in the case) narrated how he fears for his life and security of his family. The impact of social conservatism and the violence associated with it was narrated by Saroj (the mother in law of the honour killing victim) from Haryana. Cases of political violence and victimization were narrated by Swapna Ghosh of West Bengal and Vinita Choudhury from Tripura. The struggles on food security were narrated by Lahani Dauda from Maharashtra, whereas struggles on right to work were narrated by Santro from the Anganwadi Mothers’ group in Haryana, Poonam (a domestic worker from Noida, NCR) and MNREGA worker from Bihar.