21 February 2013, New Delhi: Students body, Faculty of different Schools, women organisations and Activists have come together at Jantar Mantar under the theme ‘People’s Watch Over Parliament’ on the eve of 1st day of Budget Session to campaign against sexual violence and Gender discrimination.
The group is protesting against the Government Eyewash Ordinance, and demanding the Enactment of laws against rape and sexual violence on the lines of Justice Verma Recommendations, Budgetary allocation for rape crisis centres and rehabilitation and compensation for survivors of rape and acid attack.
Dheeraj Kumar, Assistant Professor in School of liberal studies at Ambedkar University, who had come to the support along with 25 of his students says “We have joined to strengthen the protest. I have encouraged my students also to participate as this helps them contribute something for the betterment of our civil society”
“The Issue is not related to women alone, We have our own families and we want a safe environment for all of them. You could well see how in December 16 incident state mechanism failed miserably. We are also protesting to repeal AFSPA to ensure that army officers accused of rape cannot hide behind it and claim immunity, as Manorama’s rapists and killers have done since 2004.” says Amlesh Kumar Singh, who is a student of School of International Studies, JNU.
The Campaign had artistic display of its theme all around the place. Posters, Placards, and Leaflets were being distributed among the spectators encouraging them to join the cause. Several Colleges of Delhi participated including Maitreyi college, St Stephens, Hindu to name a few.
A special performance by the student from Theatre Group named ‘Abhivyakti’ of Maitreyi College gathered a lot of appreciation. The groups theme was based on sexual harassment, domestic violence and portrayal of women as a commodity. Shefali Chadha pursuing Eng. Hon. says “We were helped by Mr Amir Aziz, a theater artist of repute in scripting our play”. “To connect with the people was an amazing feeling” says Sakshi Sood, another member of Abhivyakti. Payal Bose,2nd year, BA tells this correspondent, “People have also given us negative comments about the portrayal of all women as righteous. We have taken those comments positively.” Garima Bawa, a physics hons. student in her 2nd year seemed excited to speak about their group, “Abhivyakti (expression) has been an active group of theater enthusiasts, who practice theater and appreciate it for the humanizing value that it has for individuals and society. This society has been running successfully since 1999, participating in campus theater as well as seeking opportunities outside so as to reach out to a larger audience.”
The campaign also protested against gender neutrality of the accused in the rape/sexual assault law. The activists are dismayed by the ordinance’s move to automatically brand consensual sexual contact between young people between the age of 16-18 as ‘sexual assault’. Activists have also demanded the deletion of Section 377 that criminalizes same-sex relationships. The Campaign with a tagline ‘Freedom Without Fear’ has touched the hearts of all section of society which was seen by the gathering.