As citizens of India and especially women citizens of India,
the Defense Minister George Fernandesís shocking statement in
parliament has outraged and agonized us. His statement (Hindustan
Times, May 5th 2002.):
cameras captured the moment when the Defence Minister of India
spoke as the Defence Minister of criminals who had perpetrated
grotesque acts of violence against women and children in Gujarat.
He said in his speech in Parliament during the debate on Gujarat
under Rule 184, "A woman with her womb cut open and her foetus
torn out, women raped, we have heard these stories for 50 years"
We as Indian women and citizens are amazed at this callous
denial of humanity and life to hundreds of women victims of
brutal sexual and physical violence. In a situation where hundreds
of women victims are not even able to file FIRs and bring perpetrators
to justice, the Defense Ministerís statement comes as a body
blow to the dignity and hope for justice for Indian women. His
dismissive and contemptuous attitude and utterances directed
at the victims and activists seeking justice exemplifies the
non-condemnation of the brutalities committed upon the women,
which characterizes the insensitivity that prevails in the hallways
of national and state power. These actions and utterances becomes
an endorsement of these crimes against humanity and should be
treated as his accepting these horrendous assaults as non-criminal.
It violates every tenet in the UN declaration of Human rights
and the National Policy on Women.
We the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jain and all other
women of all the faiths that call India home demand an immediate
apology from the Defense Minister. Failing which we demand his
ouster from the government. We cannot trust such a regressive
and insensitive individual with our personal and national security.
And as part of a wider struggle for the restoration of the
rule of law and Constitution in Gujarat we stand in camaraderie
with womenís organisations throughout India, who will be observing
May 13 as a day of solidarity with the women victims of Gujarat.
We support their three demands which are:
- Immediate filing of FIRs in cases of sexual assault and
violence against women and arrest of all those named;
- The institution of special courts with a time-bound mandate
in all such cases;
- Rehabilitation measures specifically designed for families
rendered female headed because male members were killed.
We urge all citizens and especially our women citizens to join in raising this voice for those weeping women of Gujarat who lost so much more than words can ever convey. Let rhetoric give way to humanity.