Resolution on Women’s Movement : Challenges and Tasks

15. Domestic violence against women is rampant across castes and classes. It is a brutal indicator of the fundamental lack of democracy and inequality that underwrites relationships between men and women and the institution of marriage and family in patriarchal society. Insecure jobs and lack of employment for women make women in abusive marriages all the more vulnerable. The home and family are ‘private’ spheres in name only. In reality, these institutions are crucial to the structure of patriarchal, caste, and class oppression, and the subordination of women and control of their sexuality and reproduction within the home is crucial to maintaining property relations and caste hierarchy, extraction of dowry and subsidizing capitalism through domestic labour. In spite of legislation banning dowry, dowry torture, often culminating in killings, continue to be rampant. Domestic violence and the practice of dowry cannot then be seen as a ‘private’ matter to be settled within the family, they are means of women’s subordination and we should mobilise powerful public campaigns and movements against them.

16. Sex-selective abortion and female infanticide continue to flourish both in rural areas and in urban areas, especially among the well-off that have greater access to technologies of pre-natal sex-determination. The latest census figures show that the number of girls in the 0-6 age-group has fallen to the lowest level since Independence – a mere 914 girls for every 1000 boys. Governments at the State and Centre have been deliberately lax in implementation of the PC & PNDT Act (Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994), allowing the unethical medical industry of pre-natal sex-determination and sex-selective abortions to flourish unchecked. In states like Haryana, the skewed sex ratio is also creating a situation where brides are being ‘bought’ from Kerala, Karnataka etc. The position of these women in such marriages is extremely vulnerable. Along with the implementation of the PC & PNDT Act, it is clear that son-preference and sex-selective abortions can be resisted only in tandem with a whole host of other measures that confront patriarchy and enhance the worth and dignity of women in society.

17. The social and political assertion of Dalits and backward
castes is being met with violent feudal reaction all over the country. Women from these oppressed communities, in particular, bear the brunt of instances of public humiliation and sexual violence by feudal forces. Dalit women in particular face severe sexual violence, as well as humiliation and degradation at the hands of feudal forces and assertive middle castes. In most of these cases, the SC/ST Atrocities Act is not invoked. Adivasi women who are at the forefront of struggles against land grab are often subjected to rapes by police and security forces, during raids and in custody.

The widespread practice of branding women as ‘witches’ (dayan or tonhi) and killing or publicly humiliating them, is linked to the targeting of single women or widows, often in order to grab their property. The sexual exploitation and abuse of women inside religious institutions or by so-called god-men is also a common phenomenon.

18. Women in the North East and Kashmir have fought heroically against state repression. The hunger fast of Irom Sharmila of Manipur and the nude protest of Manipur’s women against the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama have emerged as iconic protests against the AFSPA.

Women of the Muslim minority community are targeted by fascist forces for sexual violence during communal pogroms. Deprived of access to basic rights of education and employment, majoritarian communal campaigns have increased the ghettoisation of Muslim women, rendering them more vulnerable to discrimination and violence by fundamentalist forces from within the minority community.

The struggles of dalit, adivasi and Muslim women for their rights and dignity, and struggles of women of the North East and Kashmir against State repression are crucial concerns for the women’s movement in India.