Women yatras to counter Centre's trampling of rights

Women yatras to counter Centre's trampling of rights

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI file photo)

Accusing the Narendra Modi government of trampling on the constitutional rights of women, several activist groups are launching five "all women yatras" to make women's issues a talking point ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections.

The 'Baatein Aman Ki' (Weaving Lives Together) campaign between September 22 and October 15 is aimed at galvanising women and men to address "much broader democratic challenges". Besides Kashmir and Kanyakumari, the yatras will also begin from the Northeast and Kerala.

The campaign will not just focus on sexual violence against women but encompass subjects like farmers' distress, ill-effects of demonetisation, the changing contours of public health and communalism, the organisers said.

"The last four years have witnessed the deterioration of the position of women. They bear the brunt of farm distress, demonetisation and several other policy measures. Women bore the brunt of farm distress and several of them committed suicide. Several women lost their livelihood due to demonetisation," Annie Raja, general secretary of National Federation of Women in India (NFWI), told DH. The NFWI is one of the organisers of the campaign.

"We will stand against all those forces which are trying to break the country in the name of religious or nationalist sentiments...They have invoked religion with the implicit and often explicit consent of the ruling BJP," she said, citing incidents of lynchings, cow vigilantism and the support for accused in incidents like Kathua gang-rape.

"It is for the first time perhaps since the freedom struggle that women are coming together not for talking about women's rights only but about the country as a whole and all problems faced by different sections," ANHAD activist Shabnam Hashmi said.

The campaign also seeks to raise the issue of politicisation of religion where fringe elements decide the choices of women, be it the right to dress, speak, write and eat among others.

"In the name of culture and tradition, women are pushed further. The concept of RSS that women should be at home is being propagated," AIDWA general secretary Marium Dhavle said.

Another concern that will get highlighted during the campaign will be the "sabotage" of the public health system where primary health care centres are being transformed into wellness centres.

"Primary health care centres are the lifeline for women. Now they want it to be a yoga centre,” another activist said.

The yatra will also highlight the situation in Jammu & Kashmir where youth and women are being targeted. The campaign, which will be "funded by personal donations from the public, peoples' movements and women's groups", will also campaign for "withdrawal of the military footprint" from civilian areas in Kashmir.