With the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, thousands of women across the country took part in a “Women’s March for Change” to “reject the current environment of hate and violence”.
The march, held in over a hundred locations in more than 20 states, saw women and transgender persons marching against what they termed “politics of hate” that has affected oppressed groups such as tribals, farmers, Dalits, religious minorities, women, transgender persons, and persons with disabilities the most.
Stating that violence against women doesn’t exist in isolation, documentary filmmaker and former National Advisory Council member Farah Naqvi, who was part of the march in Delhi, said that women bear the maximum brunt of rural distress, or attacks on the rights of marginalised communities.
She added, “This march is a collective protest against the repeated attacks on the most basic Constitutional rights over the last five years. We have seen the spread of hate but there has been complete impunity around it. In this atmosphere of violence in the country, violence against women won’t stop.”
Seema Shah, who organised the march in the tribal belt of Dahod Panchmahal in Gujarat, said, “We have all these rights on paper but women on ground are not getting the benefits of it. Then there is the talk of beti bachao beti padao, while heavily cutting budgets for public education and healthcare. We want women to vote for candidates that will address all these issues that affect them,” she said.
In Tamil Nadu, Christina Samy said that the march was held to highlight how women are most affected by fundamentalism and neoliberal policies. “While giving us permission to organise the march, the police cautioned us against speaking on politics. But our issues in itself are political, the Pollachi sexual assault case that shook the nation is political.”
A collective statement by the many rights groups in Mumbai read, “The farmers have marched, the workers are marching, and now it is our time to march, as women, gender-conforming and non-binary people who are oppressed by the patriarchy. As the elections loom, we march for constitutional values…”