Category: Campaigns

November 24, 2017 /

NEHU needs a change, it needs a change in the mindset on how to tackle problems and figure out solutions. We cannot just leave NEHU believing it will get better because it won’t. Sexual harassment cases are piling up, and students are too afraid to even put forth a complaint because when they do, the teachers are at times reinstated, which does not make sense and speaks of complete injustice.

This interview by Amrapali Basumatary & Bonojit Hussain was taken in 2016 December, just two days after Akhil Gogoi was released from his 78 days of imprisonment by The Assam Government. For various reasons the interview couldn’t be published during that time. However, with the recent re-imprisonment of Akhil Gogoi under the National Security Act (NSA) in September 2017, we feel that it is important to bring this interview to public domain.

November 21, 2017 /

Recently, a furious debate about ‘sexual harassment’ was initiated on social media, after a Dalit woman student brought out a list on Facebook accusing many powerful Indian male academics, many of them Brahmin, for being sexual harassers. Soon, certain upper caste feminists came forward with a statement that opposed the list, asking the anonymous complainants to pull it down and follow the ‘due process’ in dealing with sexual harassment. There was a huge uproar against this statement and younger women reproached the older feminists for espousing a Savarna feminism that sought to protect (Brahmin) men. Things have tempered down now after the appearance of a second list (this time posted from an anonymous Facebook account) in which many Bahujan scholars and student leaders of Bahujan movements were named as sexual harassers. This list too, it was claimed, was created by Dalit Bahujan women.

November 10, 2017 /

An important legislation like THE MEGHALAYA COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION AND PUBLIC SERVICES SOCIAL AUDIT ACT, 2017 came into being without any element of Community Participation through Pre-Legislative consultation about its intent and content. Some of the remarks we make about the Act are due to this ‘failure’ on the part of the government to take the people and community into confidence about the law.

November 4, 2017 /

As the youngest member of my department, I am frustrated. I am frustrated for many reasons, official and non-official alike, one being this – I feel I am the biggest hypocrite in the world- I teach my students the significance of women’s rights, activism and women’s jurisdiction but in reality, I don’t even have that iota of power to stretch out my hands to them, hug them, and tell them that-We will be taking some concrete steps!

November 3, 2017 /

The conversation with Vinita Chandra of Ramjas College, Delhi was conducted by Rochelle Pinto to address the fact that the process of filing a complaint against sexual harassment in a university and the details of the law were not widely known, adding uncertainty to what is likely to be a difficult decision. Ramjas College had sustained a working unity among a group of teachers that enabled the functioning of a committee to deal with sexual harassment. The following is an account of what an institution can become if about four or five people withstand the pressures on organizations that protects the rights of its members. Ramjas is not the only college to have a committee that enjoys credibility, but it belongs to a small minority of institutions that have sustained the process. The majority of educational institutions in the country have a different story.

October 30, 2017 /

The list by Raya Sarkar raises questions that were, deliberately or otherwise, ignored and silenced increasingly over the years. The problems of male entitlement and casteist bias stand exposed in the names of the people in the list. We can’t therefore afford to dismiss the urgent resolving of these problems within our revolutionary politics and its practice. Our Parties and Organizations are filled to the brim with such people who wouldn’t baulk an inch if they had the chance to sexually harass or rape a woman. Our sole obsession with class struggle has made us blatantly ignorant of the gender question. These are legitimate critiques which this list has raised and which we need to address.

October 28, 2017 /

Yes, procedures and institutions have often failed us, but a feminist politics demands that we continue the struggle to make these processes more robust. Let me reiterate that I believe that testimonies are certainly a strong feminist strategy, but not the simple naming of people with no context or explanation. There is no easy fix. The building of feminist cultures requires taking responsibility for lengthy struggles, building of solidarities, rethinking of strategies from time to time, engaging in dialogue with mutual trust.
I am not very hopeful that the trust that has been so wantonly destroyed can be rebuilt very easily.

October 28, 2017 /

My only hope is that the list does not remain a list, but goes on further to secure some form of justice. It would be great to see older feminist activists, the ones we look up to, come forward and offer assistance to the victims and assure them of support. So that they can shed their anonymity and take on their perpetrators. It would be the logical conclusion to see those who keep talking of institutional redressal, actually offer some redressal to the victims by assuring that their institutions will seriously probe all complains. Unless, these are assured, this will remain another FB viral sensation to be forgotten within 3 months and I sincerely hope that this does not happen.

October 28, 2017 /

I have one simple question to the proponents of “The List”, what are we going to do next after this? I am not talking about preparing other lists; let us focus on this one for now. Assuming people named on the ‘list’ are actual perpetrators of sexual harassment, they might have a change of heart and rectify themselves after this social media outrage. Or else, they will get back at the complainants very nastily. Given our experiences, the latter seems more probable. The list has not given justice to anyone, it has only named and shamed people, most of them are highly placed and powerful.

October 27, 2017 /

As a student, I remember this surgeon, who took about 12 of us students, mostly male, on rounds, stripped a young woman upto her waist, without any form of consent and proceeded to ‘palpate’ her breasts the entire 15 minutes that he was ‘teaching’ us. What is my memory of that? My memory is filled with guilt – that I didn’t intervene, that I didn’t slap him, that I didn’t complain. What are women like us to do with guilt such as that? Where was ‘due process’ then and where is it now?

October 27, 2017 /

The fact is that it is too late to debate process vs. anonymous accusations. The deed has been done and from all accounts the list will expand. It serves no purpose to post facto discuss what should have been or what could be. All of us have always known the stink pit that all institutions are as far as masculinities and sexual harassment are concerned. The problem that we are facing today is that our dear friends and acquaintances occupy the list and it may at a later date also come out that some should not have been on that list. The question that is bothering me is whether my discomfort with this naming exercise would be as strong and as acute and as urgent if those being named were not from largely my side of the fence? My hunch is that most of us would be baying for blood with scant respect for process or principles.

October 27, 2017 /

Each instance of alleged sexual harassment needs to be examined and dealt with on its own merit – with due process available both to the accused and to the accuser. Sweeping, anonymously driven collective assertions of the culpability of a cluster of named and shamed persons violates the principles of the need for rigourous individual examination of each instance, with due attention to the testimonies of victims and the defences of the accused, without which justice and resolution can never be served.

October 26, 2017 /

Over the last two days, my facebook has gone on overdrive with feminists finding themselves in polarised positions against the list of perpetrators that Raya Sarkar, a Dalit lawyer in California circulated on facebook after compiling the names of some powerful men in the academic world and alleged sexual harassers. Some feminists as mouthpieces for the entire community wrote an apology of an article in kafila urging that the list be taken down for it violates ‘due process’ of law. Other feminists have come out in full support and some have taken the middle ground, allowing themselves to articulate their confusions, while many have remained mum for the more one thinks about it the more contradictory one seems to become.

October 24, 2017 /

The Meeting resolved to start an Opt-Out campaign for those who had already enrolled in Aadhaar but who wish to withdraw their consent and with draw from the Central Data Storage which they believe that both their Bio-metric and Demographic Information are stored. The Opt-Out campaign is based on an informed opinion that the adhaar project is inherently flawed/dangerous and it is also based on the fact that now Privacy is a Fundamental Right as guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution of India so therefore the Adhaar Project infringes upon this Right and as citizens we resolved to protect our Right to Privacy by opting out of Adhaar. A sample Opt-Out Letter was drafted both in English and Khasi and distributed so that people can read, understand and decide. The Meghalaya Peoples Committee on Adhaar had fixed 30 October as a date to collect all those individual opt-out letters and send them to authorities concerned and the Committee firmly believed that this opt-out campaign will have long lasting impact on the fight against intrusion by the Power of the State on individual citizens. Individuals who wish to withdraw their consent are requested to come to KSU office at Jaiaw Shillong on the 30 October 2017 and submit their opt-out letters from 11am to 3pm.

October 13, 2017 /

On the third day of their ongoing peaceful agitation around 1200 longstanding regular casual workers of Meghalaya Energy Corporation Ltd had lunch time protest in various parts of Meghalaya, including Shillong, Umiam, Kyrdem Kulai, Jowai, Khlierihat, Tura, Phulbari, Ampati, Baghmara, Garobadha, Mendipathar, Nongstoin, Mairang & Mawkyrwat. They held placards with slogans outlining their various grievances.

September 19, 2017 /

Few days ago one of the Raiot collective members received a Whatsapp message in Hindi. However, since some of the receivers of this message could not read hindi, the thrust of the threat was not instantly delivered, so it turned into a bit of a failure. But then yesterday, it came to our attention that a few other people- journalists, activists, as well as students – received the same whatsapp-forwarded death-threat; each coming from different numbers originating from different states in the country.

September 13, 2017 /

The high profile rally initiative to save India’s rivers taken up by well respected religious guru Sadguru and his followers is noteworthy, and the most recent case in point. It is striking that so many film stars, politicians, governments, and public personalities, are joining the call. Lakhs of children are expected to join in the program. While we welcome such an outpouring of good intentions and good will as a demonstration of the positive energy all around, unfortunately, we have seen no evidence either from the rally organisers, on their website or their messaging, that they understand or plan to address the real threats faced by our rivers and their sorry state.

September 7, 2017 /

Almost seven years ago, to the week, I had sent off instructions to Gauri Lankesh about who would receive her at Imphal airport and then take her up to Ukhrul. She was part of a team of women writers from different parts of India who had been invited to travel across the Northeast and write stories about their experiences

September 6, 2017 /

We are curious about why the government wants to block our website. A traveling arts project is not exactly threatening the status quo. Further, curiosity and engagement with processes of identity construction is necessarily an open-ended process. There is no in-advance condemnation of any particular party, politician or any social group. From concerns about language, to food habits, to religion, marriage, divorce, clothing, color of skin and other minutiae of public and private life, identity has acquired weight if you live in India.

August 24, 2017 /

MPCA urges upon all concerned and at various levels of authority not to breach upon the right of privacy of each and every individual while attempting to get maximum number of persons for Aadhaar enrolment during a given period of time. As we have received the Ruling on the Right to Privacy, so shall come the Ruling on Aadhaar enrolment and registration. “Force, unaided by judgement, collapses through its own weight.” (Horace, 65-8 BC: Ode)

August 12, 2017 /

“Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) condemns the intolerant residents and the dorbar of Shnong Madan iingsyiem, Mylliem who tried to prevent the cremation of (Late) Mr. Kulam Nongrum (President Sengbah ki Nongshad Nongkheiñ) in accordance with Niam Khasi faith in his village. It was only after the intervention of the District administration and an offer of space by Seng Khasi Hima Mylliem that Late Mr. Nongrum could be cremated. The fundamentalist and intolerant behaviour of the some of the Christian majority of the village ensured that the solemn funeral procession was also an occasion for hurling insults on the adherents of the indigenous faith.”

June 24, 2017 /

[WATCH] Trinamool Congress, led by Mamata Banerjee, came to power in West Bengal in 2011, riding a popular wave of mass fury over forcible acquisition of land and state atrocities in Singur, Nandigram, and Lalgarh. But six years down the line, the faultlines of the new regime are showing up, most notably in the ongoing farmers’ movement in Bhangar, with a sense of déjà vu.

April 26, 2017 /

Assam’s Debjani Bora, who has won gold at the national level for her javelin throws, was targeted as a witch in 2014 in the state and assaulted, of all the places, in a community prayer hall. Debjani’s case puts into question one of the biggest myths around witch-hunting, that it takes place only due to superstition, ignorance and lack of education in far-flung remote villages, and among poor, uneducated people.

April 25, 2017 /

So the stone-slinging begins. It is the usual show. UDP will throw shingle at INC who will throw gravel at BJP who will in turn attack UDP. It is unimaginative, reactionary and all about head-line grabbing. Here’s a little info for the political party honchos: Nobody cares. It is cynical to say so but what can you expect?

March 23, 2017 /

Ngi lah iohi ha kine ki sngi ia ka jingshahthombor ki kynthei ha ka ri bad jylla jong ngi, khamtam ha ki heh ki hain, bad ngi iohi ruh ba wat lada ka don ka ain ban iarap bad iada ia ki kynthei kiba shah leh-beijot bad lehbein, bun na ki kym shim ioh ia la ka hok namar ha kane ka juk mynta, ka ain ka la don ha ka kti ki briew shynrang kiba donbor. Kane ha rum kadei ka shithi ba thoh kawei ka kynthei ba shah batbor ha hynriew ngut ki shynrang ha Mawringkneng. Ka shithi ka pyni shai shisha ia ka apot jong ki kynthei ha ka jylla, ha kaba wat lada ki shah thombor, ka ain ruh kam iada bad ai ia ka hok jong ki. Ka paw ha kane ka shithi ba ka Dorbar ruh kam shim long shuh kaba iada ia ka hok ki kynthei, hynrei kaba pyrshang pynban ban woh bad pyndem ia ki.

March 8, 2017 /

Compromise is a familiar term when it comes to a woman. Compromise, if there is an abuser within the family for the sake of clan honour. Compromise, if you have to follow de-humanising traditions as it is forbidden to question religion. Compromise, if there is unequal treatment in schools and colleges at least you have got a chance to study compared to your ancestors. Compromise; if you are bonded for labour and domestic work at least you are getting some food to eat. Compromise, if you are assaulted, raped, teased, objectified, silenced and ridiculed as you belong to the excluded caste of being a woman. Compromise, in fair share of land and property as a woman cannot be equal to a man in public affairs. Compromise, in a spousal relationship as you have to save the relationship.

February 20, 2017 /

Within Nagaland, especially among young people, there is a quiet groundswell of support for women reservation. When the protest against reservation begun, I had been following the discussion on social media and whatsapp. Of course, there are those young men, with their regressive views, who are the loudest even here. Their opposition to the reservation is usually because, in their views, women are premature to partake in decision making, or that it is an open field where both women and men should fight equally. But there are other voices, both men and women, who believe that the existing social structure is highly discriminatory, and that without reservation it is almost impossible for women to take part in decision making. Yet these voices are seldom heard, primarily because of the draconian directives passed by the tribal bodies.

February 15, 2017 /

Given that Naga men and their tribal bodies have complete control over both the definition and exercise of what constitutes Naga customary laws, there is no room left for any debate or conversation with other concerned persons. It has now come to a point where customary laws are being used to reinforce patriarchy and legitimize violence, to subject and silence women and to shut down any space for gender justice.

February 13, 2017 /

We, the undersigned women’s organisations and concerned individuals take serious note of the fierce opposition to women’s reservation of 33% seats in Nagaland Municipal Councils by male dominated tribal bodies in Nagaland in the name of protecting their tradition and customary practices that bar women from participating in decision- making bodies.