Archive for March, 2013

March 05, 2013
WRise creates platform for dialogue on gender relations.


Bureau Report

BOSTON: WRise, a women-led group to engage the broader community through reflection and action around gender issues, held its inaugural event in the Right to Be Series at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), on March 3rd.

 WRise holding its inaugural event at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on March 3rd. Photo credid: WRise-Boston and Zainab Lakhani

WRise holding its inaugural event at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on March 3rd. Photo credid: WRise-Boston and Zainab Lakhani

The discussion opened dialogues on issues of custodial rape, state-supported violence against women in geo-politically sensitive areas, and problems of accessing justice through the case of Soni Sori, a tribal woman from Chattisgarh, India.

Shilpi Suneja, a writer in the Boston-area, presented a moving piece juxtaposing how Soni Sori is perceived by the Indian state against her identity as a woman, mother, and survivor of brutality. She addressed the issue of “gallantry,” against the background of “Gallantry Awards” being award by the Indian state to police officials like Ankit Garg, accused of torturing and abusing Soni Sori.

Shwetika Kumar, an electrical engineer, provided a concise yet effective background on the context of the conflict in Chattisgarh, the Naxalite movement in India, the vigilante-group Salwa Judum and the Indian state’s role in the conflict.

Chhavi Goenka, a PhD student at Boston University, spoke about the implementation of the Justice Verma Committee Report, which was submitted on January 23rd to suggest ways to make rape laws stronger in India in response to the gruesome gang rape of a young woman in Delhi on December 16. The event was moderated by Pronita Saxena, active in social justice issues in the Boston area.

Over 60 people, women and men, attended the event, including members of Women Fight Back (WFN), Chelsea Uniting Against the War, the Bolivarian Circle of Boston, and Association for India’s Development (AID). During the latter half of the event, there was a lively discussion and dialogue among attendees about systems of patriarchy, domestic violence, the double standard between media and acceptable conduct for women on the streets in India, and suggestions for future collaborations.

The group invited attendees to seek justice for Soni Sori through the “Take back the President’s Police Medal of Gallantry awarded to Ankit Garg” petition at the venue.

WRise’s discussions are open to the community and held every other Saturday at noon in Cambridge, MA.

The online petition can be found at:

Share this:


Posted March 8, 2013 by Shiney Varghese

Soni Sori is an Adivasi school teacher who was arrested, tortured and sexually assaulted by Chhattisgarh state police in 2011.

As the world was getting ready to usher in the New Year, most Indians were mourning the death of one of their young women, gang-raped on the night of December 16 on a bus that she boarded along with her companion. This is not the first time a woman was raped while travelling, nor was it the first time ayoung middle-class woman was gang-raped. Yet it galvanized the young and the old, women and men of India in a manner that had not happened before. There were many gatherings across the country to protest and mourn; there was an outpouring of grief and anger online too.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, I am most acutely aware of the grim reality faced by most women in this world: gender-based violence. It manifests itself differently in different cultures, but is omnipresent all the same.

Gendered violence is intrinsically linked to women’s livelihoods as well, such as women’s roles in agriculture and food systems: as farmers, agricultural laborers, food processors, and finally as the main persons responsible for providing and preparing food for homes.

Sheelu, a feminist activist with Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective, realized early on that sexual violence was an everyday reality for the women that the collective worked with, whether they were engaged in a household related activity (collecting water or firewood) or an economic activity (collecting fodder, employed in a agri-processing factory). Campaigns against gender-based violence quickly became one of the central focuses of the women’s collective. These campaigns, in turn, created the conditions for the collective’s members to begin other work to empower women within the community and the region to address resource rights to improve their livelihoods. They became much stronger political actors able to more effectively claim their rights to food and land, something they could not have done without first addressing the violence that held them back at every turn.

Violence against women occurs in a multiple contexts: in the family, in the field, at the workplace, during caste, religious and communal conflicts, as well as by police and state officials. Sexual violence is used to control women (within the household or within the community), or the class/community she belongs to (e.g., in conflicts over land, inter-caste or communal violence or state-sponsored violence) in the event of a conflict. In contexts where women have no access to economic assets, they often have no recourse but to tolerate domestic violence.

Moreover, if the woman belongs to a community that is already in the margins of society, such acts of violence are often carried out with impunity, as is in the case of indigenous women in Canada, Native American women in the United States or Dalit women in India. According to Violence Against Dalit Women, the plight of Dalit (SC) women “seems much more alarming when one looks at the data pertaining to serious crimes such as rape and murder.” Simply put, women’s bodies often become the battleground for a number of different kinds of fights: cultural, communal, ethnic, racial, social, economic and domestic, and these fights can take place anywhere, public or private.

In the case of developing countries that are undergoing rapid urbanization and industrialization, the state can perpetuate or be complicit in human rights violations, as can be seen from the attempts to silence vocal women such as Soni Sori and several other less well known women in India. Similarly, when communities faced with displacement or destruction of livelihoods choose to exert their right to homeland and livelihoods, companies in search of metals and minerals may even resort to violence to silence them. Survivors of the gang rape of the eleven Q’eqchi’ women of Guatemala are suing the Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals Inc. and its subsidiary HMI Nickel for its role in the violence against women protesting its operations.

But the winds are changing: Thousands of ordinary women around the world joined organizers of one billion rising marking a day of action to protest against violence against women and girls last month. As if in recognition of the changing mood of millions of people, when the 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-57) meets at the United Nations in New York this week (March 4–15), its focus is on violence against women and the priority theme is the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls. A multitude of events are held this International Women’s Day to protest violence against women, seek justice and celebrate the distance we have traveled over the last century.

New Jersey, March 13, 2013 -Against a background of everincreasing

reports of rape and other violence on women in India, several individuals including the NJ chapter members from Association For India Development ,

People For Loksatta , India Against Chapter, Telangana Development Forum gathered on Friday,

March 8th, in Oak Tree Road, New Jersey to stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of

gender violence in India. Given the growing outrage in India as a result of the recent rape case in

Delhi, the protestors wanted to raise awareness and express anger against the alarming

incidence of violence. This event marked special mention of Soni Sori, an adivasi school teacher

currently held in the Central Jail in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh, India. Similar protests have also

been organized in other cities including Boston, London and several cities in India on the

ocassion of the International Women’s Day on March 8th. Soni Sori has been the symbol of

global protests in the past due to the custodial rape and torture she had to face from the jail


Sori was arrested in New Delhi on October 4, 2011 and accused of being a Maoist supporter.

Despite her appeals to cowaurts in New Delhi, she was handed over to the Chhattisgarh police

and taken to the state where she was beaten, sexually assaulted and given electric shocks by

the police. Sori documented her torture in letters she wrote to her lawyer, and which have since

been widely publicized.

A petition in support of Soni Sori was read out by Suresh Ediga, the organizer of the event. The

petition was then signed by all the participants and a copy of the same would be handed over to

the Indian Embassy in New York in the coming days. They then took out a silent march in an

effort to create more awareness about Soni Sori and her fight for justice. Each one of the

participants recorded a 10 second video in support of Soni Sori, as part of the One Billion rising

for Soni Sori. It is noteworthy to mention that Sori has been acquitted in four out of the eight

cases in which she was charged.

Participants also took part in an impromptu discussion and discussed among the other things

why Soni Sori should matter, why tribal issues in remote villages of Chattisgarh should matter

and how citizens can play an active role in bringing transparency and accountability in

governance? Organizers assured that this is just one in a many series of actions to speak

against the injustice and violence that women face on a daily basis.

Pica Avilable  here-

About 35 students from Hidayatullah National Law University, Chhattisgarh . joined the one billion rising campAign for soni sori and decided to do a flash mob , at a mall in raipur The video of the Flash Mob is available here:

Do join us as we continue to rise till soni sori and other women prisoners arrested under draconian alws are free

here is our group page-



TNN | Mar 9, 2013, 02.50 AM IST


RAIPUR: Standing tall on International Women’s Dayyouths were seen actively participating for the women cause in the state capital.

Over 45 law students of Hidayatullah National Law University, holding banners of Soni Sori, conducted a flash mob of 10 minutes at a city mall here.

On March 8, over one billion people across the world raised voice on Facebook for justice for Soni Sori, a tribal school teacher in Chhattisgarh, who was arrested in 2011 suspecting her to be Maoist.

She had alleged torture and sexual assault by the state police while serving imprisonment. “The convener Guneet Kaur, a student, initiated the step and gathered few students together to fight for justice for Soni Sori.

Slowly we came together in large numbers,” said Paridhi Tulsyan, a law student who participated in the event.

In another event, Balikotsav was conducted by a youth’s group called Aashayen during which more than 1,000 girl students were bestowed with school bags and stationary items. These girls belonged to ‘Bal Shramik’ schools meant for educating children who were in to child labour.

Girls from about 50 schools who participated in the event came out with broad smiles on their faces holding bags and gifts. “They had undergone free health check-ups and were provided free medicines if required. A dance competition was organized was also organized,” said Yash Tuteja, who heads the group.

There are 89 youths who run this group and work for society doing charitable activities, helping educate girl child and working for needy children. Many such events marked the day.



DNA, March 8, 2013

Soni Sori, a young adivasi teacher from Chhattisgarh, has been in police custody since October 2011. She was arrested in Delhi on October 4, 2011 and charged with being a conduit between the Essar Group and Maoists. She was taken to the Dantewada police station, where she was allegedly raped and tortured with stones inserted into her vagina and rectum.

Suppressing the voice
Sori has been outspoken while questioning human rights violations by police and security forces in Chhattisgarh. “The Chhattisgarh government wants adivasis to stop organising, agitating or protesting abuse of human rights,” Himanshu Kumar, member of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said.
“Once labelled Maoists, terrorists or something equally convenient the system finds it easy to go after them,” says Kamayani  Bali Mahabal

Roll of shame

Dantewada SP Ankit Garg who Soni Sori has named as responsible for the sexual torture was presented the President’s gallantry award this Republic Day. He says the allegations made against him are all false. “Her Maoist mentors in Delhi and Mumbai are making her say all this… They are using her to gain mileage.”

Fight for her

Protest against sexual crimes has been on the rise, but Soni Sori’s story does not find any place inmedia and  public discussion on legislation against sexual violence. “This is what we’ll address with the ‘One Billion Rising For Soni Sori’ today,” says  human rights activist Kamayani  Bali Mahabal.