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AID Mourns the Death of Amanat and Calls for a Safer Society for Women

 We at Association for India's Development (AID) are deeply aggrieved by the death of Amanat/ Damini/Nirbhaya who fought for her life valiantly against all odds. We stand in solidarity with her family, mourn this loss of life and condemn this barbaric crime in the strongest term. We stand firmly against all kinds of violence against women – domestic, public and institutional. We also mourn the death of Constable Tomar Singh.

 

Civil society and the government have to work in earnest to make the home and public places safer for all women. It is high time we recognize the gender biases in our society and institutions and work towards sensitizing ourselves and improving our institutions.

 

We want to underscore that complaints of sexual abuse regardless of caste, class and background must be taken very seriously and acted upon immediately. Institutions like the National Commission for Women have to play a much more proactive role with representation from a wide variety of civil society groups that also represent adivasi and dalit women. We cannot forget Soni Sori, who is still in prison and whose custodial sexual torture was proven by a government medical institutions and a case has been lodged with the Supreme Court but the only outcome for the past one year has been an ever shifting date of hearing. We also remember the brutalization of the dalit women in Khairlanji (2006) and that of Manorama Devi in Manipur (2004). There should be no impunity to sexual violence for anyone including law-enforcement agencies, security forces and politicians.

 

The violent reaction of the government towards democratic peaceful protest is becoming the rule rather than the exception. The right to protest is the cornerstone of democracy and that needs to be respected by all. We condemn the disproportionate use of force against the peaceful protesters.

We demand the following:

  1. Increase patrolling in areas that are unsafe for women, establish round the clock helpline and maintain a list of habitual sex offenders in each police station.

  2. Establish womens' crisis centers accessible by citizens in cities and villages with counseling, medical and advocacy services for the complainant.

  3. Institute an efficient system of lodging FIRs through special courts all over India in cities, towns and villages that is accessible to the poorest woman because police stations are not conducive to a woman in trauma. Fast track courts where justice should be delivered within 100 days of filing FIR. Courts should have jurisdiction over everyone, including security forces.

  4. Implementation of guidelines following Supreme Court's Visakha judgement of Aug 1997 to prevent sexual harassment at workplace. More judges be appointed for lower level courts. Right now there are 10.5 judges for 1 million Indians, with many vacant positions.

  5. Womens' groups in India, including those of adivasi and dalit women must be consulted in drafting laws upholding women's rights at home and in public.

  6. Compulsory gender-sensitization training should be imparted to all government and private sector employees including politicians, the executive and the judiciary. It should also be made an integral part of the school cirriculum. The training should be developed in consultation with womens' groups working with adivasi and dalit women.

  7. Due to its impact on physical and mental health and a high degree of mortality, rape is also a public health issue. The public health workforce (Asha & Anganwadi workers) needs to be trained in sensitizing at the family and community level in destigmatizing rape-survivors, in understanding legal provisions and encouraging women to speak out and seek justice.  

 
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