In a beautiful example of on-ground solidarity, the women of the Savda- Ghevra slum resettlement colony in Delhi band together and claim their rights.
Crimes against women have been on the rise in the past few years. However, the good news is that women are fighting back. Gone are the days when they would be constantly suppressed under the pseudo-idea of male honour, and not come out of their shells to fight for justice.
Savda- Ghevra, a slum resettlement colony lying on the outskirts of North-West Delhi has witnessed momentous efforts by women to battle injustice against them through legal means. Harshingar Active Women Cadres (HAWCs) is a team of women volunteers working to fight for the rights of women with the efficient use of law and active citizenship model.
In one bizarre case of vengeance, Gulshan (name changed) a resident of Savda-Ghevra, a member of Harshingar Active Women Cadres escaped a rape attempt with the help of other HAWCs Members. Gulshan’s brother had befriended a girl from another religious community and the two eloped from their respective homes. As an act of vengeance, the girl’s brother and other relatives tried to force themselves on Gulshan and punish her. They all gathered at her place in an attempt to gang-rape her, which they decided would be a downright punishment for her brother.
Raping one in the name of saving one’s honour, how is that right? What on earth justifies raping the sister if her brother has committed an alleged crime? Welcome to the gruesome world of the Khap Panchayat styled egoistic and patriarchal mindset.
Urmila, Gulshan’s friend, and an active member of HAWCs, was very aware of the individual rights and legal procedures and she did not bend in front of those people. She vociferously stood against the injustice and called out for help, which led to an on-spot gathering of the general public and other HAWCs members. Urmila asked them to follow legal proceedings if they had grievances against Gulshan’s brother. Gulshan’s vehement refusal to back off came as a shock to the hooligans and gave her the power to stand up for herself.
She could have easily fallen into the gory trap of patriarchal and unlawful practices that have been impediments to the growth of half the population of India – women. However, her fight for justice was only possible because of the HAWCs which is led by the Multiple Action Research Group, also known as MARG, an NGO working on justice through legal empowerment. MARG has been working in Savda Ghevra in collaboration with an organisation called Flowering Tree Inc. towards the legal empowerment of women and transforming governance in India through engendered active citizenship for the past several years.
Every other day a woman is abandoned, tortured, or raped in this country. And how she stands up for herself to fight against the injustice matters a lot. The HAWCs project has helped these women overcome their worst fears by making them aware of their legal rights through the active citizenship model. Proving the fact that women are now in charge of their own lives.
Urmila and Gulshan and other HAWCs members are setting an example by following legal procedures to fight against atrocities they face in everyday situations.
Reproduced with the writer’s permission from Youth Ki Awaaz.