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Mass Upsurges for Women’s Rights

Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), CPI (ML), 6th January 2013


The numerous mass upsurges in different parts of the country in recent times, especially the unpreceedented mobilization of students, youth, women and other sections in Delhi streets following the 16th December ghastly gang rape of the girl, and which are continued even later she succumbing to the injuries on 28th December in Singapore hospital where she was taken in the name of better treatment, are symptoms of the growing democratic consciousness against the growing atrocities against women and it should be welcomed. In India like in other countries under rapid neo-colonization, though capitalist mode of development is taking place, it is not happening after settling accounts with the feudal system in its totality. Rather the capitalistic changes are super-imposed over the old society. So the feudal culture and values are left almost untouched in these countries. As a result, patriarchy continues to play a major role in the enslavement of women. Along with this, the commodification of everything including human relations and women in general is taking place very fast. This has aggravated atrocities on children, girls and women further.

The tens of thousands of students, youth, women and all progressive sections coming out in Delhi streets and trying to occupy the elite areas preserved for the ruling classes, protesting against the attack on the girl have panicked the ruling class. It was evident in the barbarous manner in which the protesters were lathi (baton) charged, water cannoned and tear gasses hundreds of times to vacate these areas. But this brutal attack has snow-balled in to protracted protest demonstrations continuing at Jantar Mantar and numerous places all over the country. Demands for capital punishment and castration of the culprits are vehemently coming up including fast decisions on rape cases through fast track courts. Panicked by the growing protests, even the government leaders at centre and in the states and many among the ruling elites have also reciprocated to these demands positively. It is a positive development that the continuing protest movement has compelled the authorities to talk about taking urgent steps for speedy trial of cases involving attacks on women and for maximum punishment for the culprits. It is also a positive fall out of these protests that the central and state government has at least started talking about many steps for the protection of women in the streets and at working places. Pressure should be mounted continuously and the mass movement should be continued so that these promises of today are put in to practice.

But these are only touching the periphery of the question. It is the still powerful patriarchal thinking in the society which is reflected in the statements of many leaders of the elite political class, caste-religious leaders etc that it is the style of clothing, mingling with men, going out alone or ‘late’ by women etc are the reasons for the growing cases of rape. So these elite leaders try to define limits to feminine freedom and quote their own actions as responsible for the attacks on them. That is why the demonstrators in the streets are now raising the slogan: it is not the clothes, but your thoughts which are to be changed. Like the religious fundamentalists, they also want to impose a dress code on women.

Here two apparently contradictory, but complimentary things are happening. On the one hand, the patriarchal sections including the political leaders in our country, the caste-religious leaders and other revivalist sections try to impose a dress code for women and to bind them to their kitchens and bed rooms. In line with the Manusmriti (Hindu scripture), Shariaat and other religious dictums they in effect declare that 2women do not deserve freedom or equality with men. On the other hand the imperialist culture is imposed ruthlessly in every field through the media, films and any number of books, along with fashion shows, vast variety of fashion goods and designer made dresses etc. All these aspects of decadent culture, dress codes, ‘social etiquettes etc are made rampant, and are imposed by the male dominated society. Patriarchy and neo-liberal onslaughts both play complimentary, though apparently antagonistic, roles to impose enslavement of women. Though the economic base is undergoing fast changes through reforms imposed from above under neo0colonization, the superstructure in our country, including the influence of feudal culture along with caste-religious rules and regulations have not undergone much change. Without militant movements in line with the progressive aspects of the renaissance movements according to the revolutionary needs of present situation, without changes in the very thought process and culture the influence of feudal and caste-religious influences imposing inequality of women and their enslavement cannot be overthrown. The struggle for immediate reforms and basic changes in the very social habits and culture should be carried forward together. Let the present upsurges in the streets be kept alive and the struggles continued unabated so that women’s liberation remains a live part of the social revolution.

Red Star Weekly, 6th January 2013

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