Open letter to  BJP, Congress, GPP, CPI, CPI (M), SUCI (C), SP, BSP, Janta Dal (United), Sadbhavana Manch, etc. re:  38 demands to end ‘Violence Against Women’ by Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)
·      Looking for serious debate not the rhetoric. – Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)
Date: 28 November 2012

The President, Working Committee Members and Office bearers

Sub: With reference to 2012 State Assembly Election in Gujarat, declare/announce clarification and organise public discussion about the programme of your party on the Women’s Rights to live in a society free from violence


This letter comes to you, all the candidates and other political parties who are in fray for the 2012 Gujarat State Assembly Election.

The fortnight starting from November 25 to December 10 is International Fortnight observance on ‘Violence Against Women’.

In a women’s meeting held as part of campaign against violence at Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan) on the issue of Gujarat State 2012 election, a detailed discussion followed on issues of public accountability required in the present political discourse as Gujarat goes to polls shortly which we will take it up with all the political parties and candidates as well.

Right now, we are sending you the charter of our demands to stop violence against women in Gujarat. We seek a public debate as well as public disclosure about all the measures taken by your party and affiliated organisations to ensure that the violence on women that manifests in various ways is curbed.

The last decade has witnessed increasing violence against women in Gujarat in various forms – sex selection, rape incidents especially of minor girls, domestic violence, harassment at work place, sexual discrimination and harassment. Lack of adequate political discourse and government’s inaction on these incidents only points to the apathy by political organisations which otherwise make tall claims of development in ‘Swarnim Gujarat’.

The statistics below raises questions on the issues of status of women:

1.      According to 2011 Census, there are 4,54,396 girls fewer as compared to boys in the population age group of 0 to 6 years.

2.      According to the Gujarat State Police department figures from 2001 to 2008, 1,05,166 cases were registered for violence against women.

3.      In 2008, a total of 359 rape cases, i.e. a rape case every day was registered in Gujarat according to police records.

4.      Cases of mental and physical harassment doubled, from 3191 to 6093, from 2001 to 2008, indicating that on an average 17 women each day had to go to police with this complaint.

5.      If the numbers of women who do not officially record their complaint is to be accounted, it paints a very grim situation. Various studies and surveys point out that 40-60% of women suffer domestic violence in their own homes.

Under these circumstances, women in Gujarat demand to know what concrete steps are being taken by your party to address this situation.
We are tired of the rhetoric of promises and assurances. We demand details of what concrete steps will be initiated in matters of policy, amending existing laws, new regulations as well as requisite budget allocations to address the low status of women in Gujarat.

We demand that all parties make public the provisions in the constitution of your party and allied organisations to initiate disciplinary action against your party members/office bearers if they were to found practising violence against women in any form. In case no such provision exists, provide clarification for their absence, and if the provisions exist, make public the actions taken in past or details of violations within your rank and file.

Following is the list of our demands to check violence against women in the state:

(1) A toll free, 24-hour help-line (like 108) with a common number should be set up in the State so that any woman facing violence or fearing the incidence of violence could call this help-line to gain necessary and immediate support.

Demands for preventing sex selection and declining sex ratio in Gujarat

(2) The government should focus on effective implementation of the PCPNDT Act and not just rhetoric of ‘save the girl child’.

(3)  In order to book the offenders and collect adequate evidence against them special teams trained should be developed under the Crime Branch.

(4)  Create a system for the district level committee to make them accountable to people’s groups.

(5)  Specific targets of action taken should be set for the District and State committees.

(6)  Functioning of the District and State committees should be reviewed every six months.

For Prevention of Sexual Harassment at work place and Educational Institution, we demand

In order that women and girls avail their right to work and education freely without fear and threat, implement the Supreme Court Guide lines in the WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NOS. 666-70 OF 1992, VISHAKHA & ORS. Vs. STATE OF RAJASTHAN & ORS.

(7)   The State Government should set up Committees for dealing with sexual harassment of women at all work places and educational institutions as per the Supreme Court guidelines provided in the Vishakha Judgment.

(8)   Do you have a committee against sexual harassment in your party and the allied organisations to stop the sexual harassment of the women activist of your party? If ‘no’, explain why and if ‘yes’, declare their names and addresses.

(9)   Declare name and addresses of all the members of the committees.

(10)     The Committee should be formed in all institutions of local government including the Gram Panchayats and publicised widely. The phone numbers and addresses of the committee members should be publicly available.

(11)     Protocols for the functioning of prevention of sexual harassment committee should be formed, including a stipulated time period for completing the inquiry and resources allocated for their effective implementation.

(12)     In all Government offices and grant in-aid institutions, a minimum of Rs. 5,000 per year be allocated to each Committee to enable awareness, education and investigation in to complaints and for holding regular meetings of the committee members.

(13)     Organise training for the members of the committee and administrators of the educational institutions.

For Effective Enquiry in Cases of Rape for the safety and justice for the victim, we demand

(14) Inquiry into cases of rape be carried out by an Officer at the level of a Deputy Superintendent of Police. A district level monitoring mechanism to review cases of violence against women should be established.

(15) The victim should have the right to have a female companion or representative of women’s organisation of her choice to accompany her right from the time of recording of the initial statements to the Court proceedings.

(16) In each District government hospital, a separate room be allocated for medical check ups of victims of sexual violence. Female staff trained in such cases should carry out the medical check-ups.

(17) The victim should be allowed to stay in a place of her choice and necessary police protection be provided to the victim.

(18) The victim should be provided trauma counselling and healing support by trained counsellors. A panel of such experts should be created and names be circulated to all police stations.

(19) To enable the victims to continue her fight for justice and be able to leave a life of dignity, rehabilitation packages including monetary compensation should be declared. Victim compensation boards should be activated.

(20)  Ensure that cases of rape are settled as quickly as possible, at the most within one year.

(21) In cases of rape of tribal and Dalit women and girls, Clause (1) (12) of the Prevention of Atrocities on SC & ST Act – 1989 be applied compulsorily as well.

(22) Cases of rape and sexual violence which are recorded by the Nationally and Internationally known Human Rights organisations but are not registered in the Police station. In all such cases, complaint must be registered and judicial procedure must begin even the case of death of the victim.

 For Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Non-allocation of adequate resources for implementation of the Act and lack of the infrastructure required to be put in place under PWDVA-2005 are the most critical issues coming in the way of its effective implementation.

We demand

(23)   A minimum of Rs. 5 crore be allocated on an annual basis for effective and efficient implementation of the PWDVA.

(24)   Appointment of a full time Protection Officer (PO) at the level of each judicial Magistrate First Class or Metropolitan Court.

(25)   Infrastructure support and assistance to the PO for performing her / his duties. Also linking all Multi purpose Women’s Centers with Protection Officers.

(26)   Provision for a minimum of two shelter homes in each district.

(27)   Capacity building of key stakeholders at all levels, specially the Judiciary and the police.

(28)   Appointment of Service provider organisations and counsellors.

(29)   Take policy measures to create awareness about the law to enable its utilization.

(30)   A special Cell to oversee the entire implementation machinery and mechanisms of the PWDVA and to facilitate inter departmental and inter ministerial coordination should be set up under the Chairpersonship of Secretary, DWCD at the State and the Collector at the district level.

For Prevent all forms of Violence against Women, we demand

(31)   A toll free, 24-hour help-line (Like 108) with a common number should be set up in the State so that any woman facing violence or fearing the incidence of violence could call this help-line to gain necessary and immediate support.

(32)   A Committee should be set up to review the incidence of violence against women and victim servicing by the State. The Committee should conduct a review every three months and make its findings and recommendations public.

(33)   Institute Special, Fast Track Courts to deal with the cases of Violence against women.

(34)   Women victims should be able to nominate lawyers of their choice under Free Legal Aid.

(35)   Police, Medical staff, shelter homes should be sensitised on the issue of VAW and their behaviour with women.

(36)   In case of negligence of duty or destruction of evidence by Police and other Government officials’, judicial action should be initiated against them along with Departmental action.

(37)   50% of the officials and employees in the department to look after law and order should be women.

(38)   Improve the quality of Free Legal Aid services and allocate adequate resources for effective availability of these to victims.

We expect your immediate response for the above-mentioned demands. We will send further important demands on other issues in future.

Trupti Shah
Rita Choksi
Deepali Ghelani
Sunanda Tayde
Reshma Vohra
Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)

         Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)
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