Women Stage Dharnas In Gujarat Against Communal Violence

9 June, 2002  

DURING the recent communal violence in Gujarat, there was one aspect that received comparatively less attention --- that a large number of women were sexually assaulted or raped, and innocent children were brutally killed. Several women organisations of Gujarat have condemned these attacks and submitted their memoranda to the state’s governor through the collectors of different districts, demanding punishment to the culprits and proper rehabilitation and counseling for these women. They also staged dharanas at Collectorate offices in various districts before submitting their memoranda of demands.

These dharnas followed the announcement the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and other national organisations of women made, on May 13, to observe Gujarat Day at the national level to protest the violence against women.

Today, these organisations feel, it is very difficult for the women victims to file FIRs. They have not only lost faith about the possibility of getting justice and rehabilitation in time; they are also afraid of going to the police and administration at a time when the marauding communal goons are still roaming the streets freely. It is in this situation that these women organisations have raised three basic demands in their memoranda:
  1. Immediate registration of FIRs in all cases of rape and sexual assaults on women.
  2. Institution of special courts with a time-bound mandate and special procedures based on international tribunals that have looked into such mass attacks.
  3. Institution of special rehabilitation and compensation schemes for every such family where the main breadwinner has been killed and the family has therefore become female-headed and children have become orphans.
In Bhavnagar and Rajkot, several organisations of women came together to stage dharnas at the Collectorate offices and submit the memoranda to the state governor through district collectors. At Rajkot, a good number of women from Upeleta also participated in the dharna.