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Protesters  Demand Justice for victims and  punishment for perpetrators

Against a background of ever-increasing reports of rape and other violence on women in India, several individuals gathered on Sunday, March 3rd, in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to stand in solidarity with victims and survivors of gender violence in India. The gathering was organized by the Bay Area chapter of the Association for India’s Development (AID). 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 in the week leading up to 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 authorities.

Sori was arrested in New Delhi on October 4, 2011 and accused of being a Maoist supporter. Despite her appeals to courts 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.

Participants raised slogans and sang songs against patriarchy. They demanded freedom for Sori and punishment for her torturers. Anitha Majji, a software professional in the Bay Area expressed outrage and on being asked why she was there, responded “Soni Sori must be freed immediately, and the State must be held accountable. The sexual torture she had to go through is unacceptable.” It is noteworthy to mention that Sori has been acquitted in four out of the eight cases in which she was charged.

Participants also spoke of the layered violence that women face as a result of gender, class,caste and racial oppression. The Delhi  gang rape  sparked massive protests in India, and women got on the streets in huge numbers to make themselves heard. “Because I’m a woman, that’s why it’s important. We have to have more freedom, freedom of the press, freedom of the news, freedom to print whatever that comes in that’s against women. We  need to be heard all over the world. We need to be heard.” said Angie Bannister, a retired nurse. 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.