On the Suicide of Dr Khurshid Anwar, Director ISD

“To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.”

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) would like to place on record its views on the recent suicide of Dr. Khurshid Anwar, Director Institute for Social Democracy, a Delhi-based NGO. Dr Anwar had been accused of rape by a 25-year old woman in September 2013. He committed suicide on 18 December 2013, following a campaign against him on social media and TV channels and the lodging of an FIR just a day before his death.

We are dismayed and deeply concerned at the content and tone of the discussions on Dr Anwar’s death in social media and in various public forums, where aspersions have been cast on the complainant. Questions have also been raised about the role of feminists who have stood by the complainant and upheld the feminist principles evolved in the course of the long and ongoing struggle against sexual violence in our patriarchal and misogynistic society.

Being part of the same struggle, we in WSS:

• Extend our support and solidarity to the complainant. We are keen to stand by the complainant in this crucial period.

• Know that sexual harassment of employees at the workplace and in social spaces by those at the top level of institutions is an ongoing phenomenon. It is a very difficult step for a woman to bring up charges of sexual assault against those who occupy a senior position in the organization.

• Recognize that the suicide is a human tragedy that has shocked and affected all of us. However, we strongly condemn the manner in which this tragedy is being exploited by those who claim to be fighting for justice on his side.

• Realize that with the suicide, the alleged crime cannot be investigated and will not be able to reach its logical conclusion. At this point, it is important to ensure that the complainant is not maligned in light of grief on the death of the accused.

• Believe that all our lives and acts – public and private – can and should be open to scrutiny when the rights and space of another person is impinged upon. Being open in this way enables us all to continue to be part of a more egalitarian society that we are striving for.

• Condemn the hostile social media campaign being directed at the complainant, as much as we condemn the social media campaign that was conducted against the accused. We would like to underline the need for restraint and a sense of responsibility while commenting on such issues, especially when our comments can have grave impacts on others. Certain processes should be demanded rather than mud-slinging on individuals.

• Are concerned that some progressive intellectuals have chosen to brand the complainant as a conspirator and vilify women’s rights activists for participating in the ‘media trial’ of the accused. While the coverage of the case by the India TV was undoubtedly sensationalized and irresponsible, the complainant cannot be faulted for accepting whatever avenues were available to her in the media. It has been a long and tough struggle to have voices of women complainants find any space in the media. It needs to be understood that the complainant sought help and was guided by people.

• Find attempts to pillory and silence such voices both disturbing and avoidable. We should all instead create an atmosphere where the pursuit for justice in the interest of the complainant is not deflected.

• Acknowledge that an attempt to carry out a process of free and fair enquiry was made by the Board of Trustees of ISD in vain. We believe that members of NGO governing boards should actively uphold the values they believe in and make sure they are not compromised at any stage. We call on all trustees and members of governing bodies to play a proactive role in such matters. Senior management needs to create a safe space for women to report sexual violations and be assured of justice.

• Share our anger on violations happening within the ‘progressive’ circles, by individuals who are otherwise respected for their work. We have seen this as it has happened in our lives and lives of others who have come to us for support and continue to do so, that perpetrators of sexual assault can be people working with us, known to us.

• Reiterate that the progressive and secular credentials of any offender cannot be advanced as proof that they cannot indulge in violative and unwelcome sexual behaviour. As activists, we should not dither from taking a principled stand, regardless of the nature of our relationship with the accused. Sexual violence needs to be seen for what it is, and the crime cannot be diluted or tempered based on other aspects of the alleged perpetrator’s life.

• Are concerned that the persecution of the complainant in this case, unless actively resisted by the activist community, will dissuade women in such situations from registering their complaints.

• Encourage women to open up and speak more. Appeal to women at large to file complaints without any hesitation or fear of the consequences.

• Resolve to deal with such consequences as and when they come up as we perceive it to be part of the same large and tough struggle to bring offenders to book. In this case too, the complainant should be supported and provided opportunities to be able to move forward in life.

On behalf of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression
- Kalpana Mehta, Shivani Taneja, Uma Chakravarti, Ranjana Padhi

WSS condemns the Violence & Vigilantism by AAP against Ugandan Women

Addressing the Chief Minister of Delhi, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), strongly condemned the racial profiling, sexual violence and vigilantism by AAP against the Ugandan women and have demanded Somnath Bharti’s resignation; judicial probe to identify the perpetrators of the violence & punitive, lawful action against them; and compensation for the Ugandian women among other demands.

To,
Shri Arvind Kejriwal
Chief Minister, Govt. of Delhi

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression strongly condemns the illegal raid conducted by the AAP cabinet law minister, Somnath Bharti and his mob of supporters, on the premises of the Ugandan women on 17th January 2014 residing in Khidki village, New Delhi.
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Bhopal Against 377

Condemning the Supreme Court Judgement upholding IPC Section 377, Bhopal Groups demand a just society irrespective of caste, class, gender and sexual orientation.

On 15th December, 2013 a protest was organised by groups in Bhopal and a statement against the SC ruling was released and read out by various people participating in the protest.

We are outraged by the regressive decision of the Supreme Court to uphold IPC Section 377. Section 377 criminalizes same-sex relations between consenting adults and is in violation of Articles 21, 14 and 15 of the Constitution and an assault on the democratic rights of all citizens of India. Section 377 falls under the category of other draconian laws that take away the constitutional rights of citizens like ASFPA, UAPA, POTA etc.
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Statement Condemning the Sexual Assault of Woman Journalist from Tehelka

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is in complete solidarity and supports the woman journalist who has made a serious complaint of repeated aggravated sexual assault against Tarun Tejpal – her powerful and influential director/ employer in Tehelka and Thinkworks – despite her personal distress, and the manifold pressures she has been subjected to.

A First Information Report has been lodged, and there is now no question that anything short of resolute action, under the law against accused Tarun Tejpal, could be acceptable. Fake regrets, deliberate falsification and manipulation of facts, character assassination of the complainant and even the claim that the complaint is politically motivated by the Right wing forces cannot be used to deflect the focus from the crime or trivialize its exigency.
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Women’s bodies are not political battlefields!

The explosion of communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh is the latest in a long series. The collusion between patriarchy and communalism has been starkly exposed in Muzaffar Nagar case too. Patriarchal control of women’s sexuality and opposition to the idea of women’s freedom of choices in relationships has been given new dimensions by the gatekeepers of caste and community, who have created the fiction of ‘love jihad’ to camouflage the reality of sexual violence.

As the virus of communal politics gathers force once again in the countdown to the 2014 elections, sexual violence is once again being deployed as a tool to secure electoral gains. We fear that Muzaffar Nagar is only the beginning – there will be more such attempts to turn women’s bodies into battlefields where contending parties vie for votes.

These sentiments were echoed in a meeting organized by Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression a network of women’s rights, dalit rights, human rights and civil liberties organizations and individuals across India, in Delhi on 30th November, Saturday.

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Public Meeting on Muzaffarnagar

All are invited !!!

call for public meeting

Women’s groups welcome SC bail to Soni Sori

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) welcomes the Supreme Court order of 12th November, granting interim bail to Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi of Dantewada, who were arrested in October 2011 and have been incarcerated since then in Chhattisgarh on fabricated charges. Although a temporary reprieve, we hope that this interim bail will be converted into a regular bail in the next Supreme Court hearing on the matter on 3rd December.

Soni Sori Palnar visiting her family at her village Palnar on 14th Nov 2013

Soni Sori Palnar visiting her family at her village Palnar on 14th Nov 2013

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