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Azaadi (Freedom) for ‘Pragaash’, an All Female Band from Kashmir

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In the last month the streets of Delhi have echoed with a slogan familiar to many in Kashmir – ‘Hum Kya Chahtey ? – Azaadi !’ (‘What do we want ? – Freedom !’). Thousands of young women and men have chanted this slogan in Delhi while protesting against rape and sexual violence, and while doing so, they have also spoken out, with great courage and integrity, and carried explicit banners and signs about the fact that women in Kashmir have had to face rape and sexual assault by the AFSPA protected armed forces (the army, police, irregular counter-insurgents and paramilitary forces) of the Indian state. And no, the young people carrying these signs, and chanting these slogans, that talk about Nilofar and Aasiya Jaan, that name the atrocities and rapes that took place in Shopian and Kunan Poshpora have not been all Kashmiris. Some of them are Kashmiri students studying in Delhi University, JNU and Jamia Millia Islamia. But along with them, several of the young people who have been weaving the reality of Kashmir into the fabric of the protests in Delhi are not from Kashmir. Each time that they have walked with these signs and chanted these slogans – (and I have seen them in every gathering and every demonstration – their numbers are growing – as more young people in Delhi use the protests as sites of learning about the many complex realities of power and oppression) – they risk being branded as ‘traitors’ by the mainstream of Indian nationalist opinion, which can never question the Indian state’s conduct in Kashmir. They have tempered their sense of justice and deepened it with the substance of solidarity. Continue reading Azaadi (Freedom) for ‘Pragaash’, an All Female Band from Kashmir

Water Cannons, Tear Gas, Ordinance: How the State Responds to Protests Against Rape and the Justice Verma Committee

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  • [ Protestors from the Bekhauf Azaadi/Freedom Without Fear Campaign Demanding Complete Implementation of the Justice Verma Committee Recommendations during the Freedom Parade to Reclaim the Republic on Republic Day, 26 January, 2012 in New Delhi. ]

So, first they come with water cannons and tear gas, and then they come with an ordnance.

Yesterday, the Union Cabinet decided to rush drafting an ordinance in response to the massive protests against rape and sexual violence that have been occurring ever since the 16th of December, 2012. According to preliminary reports, the ordnance, which will be signed into law by the President of India before Parliament even meets, flies in the face of the detailed and exhaustive list of recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee (JVC) which had been hailed by the protesting young people and a large number of women’s organisations. In other words, the government feels no need to discuss the JVC in parliament. It feels no need to even give time and an opportunity for its recommendations to sink in, for there to be more thinking, more ideas, more awareness of the issues and questions at stake. No wonder, the government had so hastily pulled down the JVC report from its own websites after it had been released. Continue reading Water Cannons, Tear Gas, Ordinance: How the State Responds to Protests Against Rape and the Justice Verma Committee

From Delhi to Djakarta, Protests Against Sexual Violence Across Borders: Bonojit Husain

Guest post by BONOJIT HUSAIN

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(Photographs courtesy: Pipit Apriani who is a Jakarta based activist and a blogger)

Protests against sexual violence are spreading across Asia. Last week demonstrations against rape and sexual violence were held in Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Inspired by the protests held in Delhi for last three weeks, hundreds of university students and activists march on the streets of Jakarta few hundred meters away from the Presidential Palace for a world free of sexual violence. The call for the protest march was given by a coalition of University Students’ Unions and civil society organizations in response to the death of RI, a 11-year-old girl, who died last week after suffering severe vaginal and rectal injuries due to repeated sexual assaults. Continue reading From Delhi to Djakarta, Protests Against Sexual Violence Across Borders: Bonojit Husain