Shabnam Hashmi, well-known social worker, who participated in Ahmedabad’s One Billion Rising campaign for women’s rights, says that during the event activists highlighted issues of rising atrocities against the women in Gujarat:
On February 14, 2013, one billion people in 207 countries rose and danced to demand an end to violence against women and girls. The One Billion Rising for Justice campaign was envisioned collectively by regional coordinators around the world, at a coordinators’ gathering in New York in April 2013. The focus on justice and the need to educate people to address root causes of violence against women stemmed from discussions on now it takes different forms globally –sexual, physical, emotional, mental, economic, political, cultural and social.
Their shared voices – from regions around the world – came to a unanimous decision to focus on justice as an escalation of the demand to end violence against women and girls once and for all. It gave a global call to women survivors of violence and those who love them to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice – courthouses, police stations, government offices, school administration buildings, workplaces, sites of environmental injustice, military courts, embassies, places of worship, homes, or simply public gathering places where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not.
It is a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way they feel right. Their stories have been buried, denied, erased, altered, and minimized by patriarchal systems that allow impunity to reign supreme. Justice begins when we speak, release and acknowledge the truth in solidarity. The One Billion Rising for Justice has become an invitation to break free from confinement, obligation, shame, guilt, grief, pain, humiliation, rage and bondage.
The campaign is recognition that we cannot end violence against women without looking at the intersection of poverty, racism, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. Impunity lives at the heart of these interlocking forces. It is a call to bring in revolutionary justice.
One Billion Rising Rally in Ahmedabad
The One Billion Rising rally in Ahmadabad began from Victoria Garden at 11 am and culminated at Sardar Bagh. People started collecting in Victoria Garden from 9 am. Thousands of students, activists, women, intellectuals joined the rally. Over 30 organizations came together. The rally had colourful banners with messages of stopping violence against women; there were thousands of flags and placards. Most interesting part of the rally were five camel carts on which various groups sung and performed for women’s movement for justice and equality.
Those who performed included Lokayat from Pune, Sahiyar from Vadodara and Lok Kala Manch. Hozefa, Keshubhai and Jayesh sang together. On one camel carts was the Siddhi Goma group with its drums and tribal performers. Another camel cart had the Angels group performing. Then there were young lawyers who spoke about the laws that are available in the country for women.
Activists not only raised the issue of sharp upward trend of violence against women internationally. They also pointed out how it has been on the increase in Gujarat. In 2012-2013, the incidents of rape in Gujarat have gone up by 49.22 per cent, sexual harassment by 30 per cent, domestic by 21.83 per cent, dowry deaths by 74.49 per cent, and there is an overall increase of 39 per cent in the violence of against women during this period.
Ahmedabad had not seen such a big and creatively conceived rally for long, and one hopes it will leave an impact on the people of Gujarat. The rally was live webcast.
Photographs of the rally: