Dear Friends and Comrades,
Let us all gather in the national capital on 27th and 28th February 2016 to demand the fundamental rights to life, dignity, equality and non-discrimination, for freedom of religion and expression for Muslim women. Let us bring together the visions and struggles of women’s movements, people’s movements, democratic and civil rights movements to participate in a national-level convention and Rally in Delhi to demand an equitable and just society for all the citizens of this country. We, on behalf of Bebaak Collective: voices of the fearless, extend a warm invitation to all like-minded individuals, writers, researchers, activists, students, professions, non-governmental organisations and autonomous collectives to join this on-going struggle of Muslim women.
We believe , given the current socio-political atmosphere of the country, that this convention is crucially timed. We have witnessed endemic and overt communal riots, beef ban, hate speeches targeted against Muslim communities and saffronisation of education. There have also been covert and systemic forms of violence through the rhetoric of love jihad and ghar wapsi. These instances, along with many other quotidian forms of discrimination and violence against Muslims and other marginalised communities, have fostered an atmosphere of intolerance and fear in the country. The inundating surveillance of the State in the everyday lives of citizens, and specifically marginalised communities like Muslims has heightened the insecurity among citizens in rural and urban areas.
With the rising communal hatred towards Muslims, it is well known that women become the bearers of “honour” of the community and are subjected to strict forms of surveillance and moral policing by members of their own family and community, albeit using the rhetoric of “security” and “protection”. Education, employment and mobility of Muslim women are major causalities under such circumstances. It is thus obvious that the current situation in our country deserves immediate attention and much needed deliberation relating to lived realities of Muslim women.
During the reign of the previous government viz., UPA, the Central government made lots of promises and formulated many policies to better the socio-economic conditions of Muslim communities, including the appointment of Rajinder Sachar Committee in 2005. The report prepared by this committee was hailed as the first of its kind to highlight the “backwardness” of Indian Muslims; and their condition was compared to be lower than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. This report not only demonstrated the socio-economic and educational impediments faced by Muslims denying them equal rights but also made crucial recommendations to improve the conditions of this marginalised community. There were several shortcomings in the implementation of these recommendations by the UPA government, including lack of transparency in the budget allocations. Hence, it is difficult to state whether there was any substantial improvement and several issues continue to persist. On the contrary, the current environment of intolerance, stigma and discrimination has deepened the malaise. In fact, Modi government in Gujarat in November 2013 had challenged the formation of Rajinder Sachar Committee by the then PMO, headed by Manmohan Singh, and contended before the Supreme Court that it was “unconstitutional” since it targeted only Muslims and ignored other minorities. Within a week of the BJP government coming to power in May 2015, similar views were echoed by the Minister of Minority Affairs stating that Muslims were not a minority in this country. Even after 18 months in power, the BJP government has not taken any serious steps to implement the Sachar Committee recommendations.
In this context, we need to continue to re-claim our democratic spaces and demand equal opportunities for all. We are inviting visionaries and outspoken personalities to address this issue in the plenary of the Convention on Day 1, and plan to deliver a statement/memorandum to the Government after the Rally on Day 2. A detailed schedule will be shared in January 2016.
This convention and rally is organised by Bebaak Collective, a forum of autonomous groups and individuals, striving to further the rights of Muslim women. We are mobilizing women from different states across India for this convention. We call upon you to participate, share your experiences and strengthen our voices in this convention. We have estimated an expenditure of approximately Rs. 3 lakh for the convention and we will provide basic accommodation and food. This is an autonomous, non-funded convention; and we hope to raise funds through donations and registration from participants. We appeal to you all to contribute monetarily and/or volunteer your precious time for organising this convention and rally. Do get in touch with us via this email or the below mentioned address.
Suggested registration fee (includes basic food and accommodation) for the participants is as given below to cover the cost of the convention and the rally:
Persons coming from rural areas: Rs 50/-
Persons coming from towns/cities/urban areas: Rs100/-
Organizations enrolling: Rs1000/-
Kindly fill up the registration form attached with this email and send us DD/Cheque in favour of AAWAZ-E-NISWAAN
Last date of registration is 15th February 2016
Venue of the convention:
Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti,
Gandhi Darshan, New Delhi: 110002
Landmark: Near Rajghat
Nearest Metro Station: ITO (on Violet Line)
15 minutes in auto from ITO metro station
Kindly write to us on the following address for any further information:
A/201, Plot 105, Sector 27,
Nerul East, Opposite Fire Brigade,
Navi Mumbai: 400706
Email: [email protected]
Organizer of this national convention is Bebaak Collective comprising of the following organizations:
Sanatkada Sadbhavna Trust, Lucknow; Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiative (AALI), Lucknow; Vanangana, Bandha; Pragati Madhyam Samiti, Chitrakoot; Pehchaan, Dedhradun; Muhim, Farukabad; Aastitva, Saharanpur; Parvaaz, Ahmedabad; Sahiyar, Vadodara; Muslim Mahila Manch, Nagpur; Aawaz-E-Niswaan, Mumbai