First conference of Savitri Bi Phule Mahila Panchayat
Not only in India but in whole world condition of women is becoming bad to worse. Violence against them is increasing. Women are the most affected at the time of war as well as peace. Their life and dignity is not secured inside or outside of home. Everywhere greedy eyes are at set to exploit the women’s body and soul. Women have no independent entity in this society. They are like an easy prey, which can be consumed easily.
Women face violence and torture from their birth. They do not have life of dignity and honor as a human being. There is no doubt that our society has been driven by the Manuist tradition based on patriarchal supremacy and exploitation.
If one looks at the conditions of Dalit women, he will get upset deeply. Where women belonging to caste Hindus community face two fold exploitation the women belonging to Dalit community face three fold exploitation due to Brahamanical and patriarchal dominated policies which are following-
1. Caused by castist discrimination.
2. Caused by patriarchal values.
3. Caused by poverty.
The exploitation and torture of Dalit women often of such nature and so inhuman that an outsider unknown to the caste system could hardly imagine it. Sometimes they are made forced to walk naked and sometimes they are brutally killed. This is the very reason why women tortured by such a cruel and inhuman way become forced to adapt the path of Phulan Devi. On the vulnerable condition of women neither media is sensitive nor the so called intellectuals. Analyzing the conditions of Dalit women exclusively, we have decided that on the question of torture of Dalit women and for their liberation, it needs comprehensive, deep and wide campaign. We talked with some like-minded people and groups and reached to a common understanding, which came forth in the shape of Savitri Bi Phule Mahila Panchayat.
This conference is being organized to sensitize the people of each community against the violence and torture of Dalit women. In India, population of Dalit community is nearly up to 16 crore 70 lakh and population of Dalit women is nearly 8 crore, which is 47.06% of total Dalit population. It means population of Dalit women is nearly 16.3 percent of total Indian population. Each 12th woman can be identified as Dalit woman. Today 89.5 percent Dalit women are living under acute poverty in spite of the fact that these dalit women are contributing a lot in national production as an important and huge source of labour force. They are involved in agricultural production and non-agricultural production. Among them 94 percent Dalit women are made forced to work at a low wages under unorganized sector, it is ironical that such a big labour force, which is playing so important role in the national production, are totally deprived of their human Rights.
In their 4th annual report, national commission on Sc/St has reported that yearly 25,000 women are facing torture and violence caused by castist discrimination. But actually such type of complains against Dalit women are far more. There, a comprehensive study was conducted on 500 victim women belonging to Dalit community taken from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and Pandicheri. In this study different forms of violence against women are detected, as for example Physical assault, verbal abuse, sexual exploitation, rape, abduction, forced prostitution, murder etc. which are inflicted by the men belonging to caste Hindus. Apart from that there are some more form of violence are reserved only for Dalit women as misbehave, verbal filthy abuse, sex violence, force to walk naked, Dalit women are forced to throw urine on their own face, they are tortured by taking their teeth and nail out, to cut the breast off, to pour the petrol in their vagina are commonly occurred.
Women frequently face violence and torture in their life but due to weakness of judiciary and predominant patriarchal mentality perpetrators easily escape out of the hands of rule of law. All studies and research work indicate that even not 1 percent perpetrator has been convicted in the matter of violence on women. In such a condition how can one hope to get justice for the women?
There has been important contribution of Dalit woman in the social development of India and its history. It is ironical that this manuist society never accepted the contribution of Dalit women in Indian society. It can be said that all literature and history is nothing but documents of so called heroic saga of patriarchal greed and Brahamanical values because there has not been mentioned the contribution of Dalit women. These reactionary historians have intentionally forgot the heroic role of Jhalkari Bai in the struggle of Indian national independence. They never remember revolutionary role of Savitry Bai Phule who dared to open school for girls first time. They exploited dalit women by making forced them to adapt the life of a prostitute as Devadasi in the name of religion and god. But when an upper caste Hindu forcefully make sexual relation with a dalit women then how she becomes touchable it is a mystery. They forget that when hands of labors unite they can throw the reign of terror away. Our supporters and we Dalit women declare that now it would not happen. We will hit hard to abolish the Brahanical and patriarchal tyrannies. Our struggle is not against the men but against those traditional reactionary ideas and system, which creates mentality to enslave the women. Our struggle is in the support of all those voiceless communities, classes who are grinding under imperialism, manuistic and patriarchal system.
Friends what might be done in such a situation without raising the question of liberation of Dalit women? Whether we can talk about the liberation of women as a whole. It is not possible to think of a batter society without solving the problems of Dalit women. Struggle of dalit women is a symbol of struggle of social honour and to have an independent recognition as a human being. There should be ensured social security by giving them employment. So we call for all these progressive forces working for the upliftment of the whole society to come forward and to join the struggle against the exploitative system based on patriarchal supremacy. A better world and better society can only be constructed by our collective effort and struggle.
Taking this into the view Shruti formed Savitri Bai Phule mahila panchayat in 2002 and Seema, kalawati, and durga joined her. Now it has taken the shape of an organization by carring out continuous of struggle. On 10th march which is death anniversary of Savitry bai phule, Savitri mahila panchayat has decided to celebrate this day as national women liberation day and has clarified that untill women belonging to upper caste hindus do not come out of Varna system and until the question of dalit women would not be in the centre of Indian womens movement there is no meaning of celebration of national women’s day.
On 10th march 2006 a meeting of savitri bai phule mahila panchayat was held at saint Kabir Janmitra Kendra in village Belawa and in the meeting it was decided-
To organize its first conference to form Savitri Bai Phule mahila panchayat and for which a central core team was formed by taking Shanti (Baghawanala), Sushila, Manshila and Asha from Shivram pur, Nageena (Kuar), Shakuntala (Fattepur) Bhagwati (Baghawanala), Samdei, Bhagawani (Belwa), Parvati (Ayear), Munni Devi (Bhatauli) Anupam (City) along with Shruti. At the same day women raised the question of disparity between the wages of women and men, domestic violence, caste based violence and not to give ownership to women in the family land property and in the common property of village level they made following demands -
Women should be identified and recognised as distinct social group:
To abolish untouchability, to give recognition and honour to Dalit women, to formulize explicit principles.
To give employment and education to Dalit women.
Dalit women, working in unorganized sector should be given social security.
Compulsory punishment for those who commit offense against women.
-BY Shruti, Founder:Savitri Bai Phule Women Forum
Translated by :S.P.Singh (Adv.)