Indian women in the fight against Modi fascism
Written by: All-India Revolutionary Women's Organisation on 15 February 2023
Above: Anganwadi – rural childcare centre - women workers on indefinite strike, January 2023. Photo credit Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Red Star.
This is the first of several report we will publish from a recently-held seminar on the United Front Against Imperialism and Fascism. The reports focus on women's issues in prepartion for the world-wide International Women's Day commemorations. This not just an overseas report - Indians comprise a growing section of the Australian population. Keeping abreast of issues in India will assist us to develop unity between Australian-Indians and other workers in this country - eds.
Contribution to the United Front webinar on 12.2.2023 from Selvi Mano/AIRWO India.
Greetings to one and all. It is a great pleasure for All India Revolutionary Women organisation to participate in this discussion.
We are the women’s organisation working in around India
International discussion is very important for women's liberation. Because discrimination against women is not just here and there or in this country and other country. It is a global scenario. From poor countries to developed countries women are being oppressed. Even though the ratio of suppression varies, the treatment of women as second-class citizens is happening globally and these practices are interrelated.
Since time immemorial, India has been an extremely patriarchal society. The patriarchal setup in Indian society contributed to the fundamental inequality between women and men.
Especially in the second phase of the BJP government, oppression and discrimination against women is increasing. (1)
India is a growing country in the world. But India ranks 135 among a total of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index 2022 and is the worst performer in the world in the “health and survival” sub-index where it is ranked 146.
BJP has been feeding on culture, they derive their support from the traditional patriarchal families and pander to them by mirroring their beliefs and incorporating it into the Government policy. They formulate a customary public opinion of right and wrong, and determine the direction the country has to steer in. These are culture bound, not constitutionally bound and thus a clear violation of the liberalism, freedom and democracy. It is also true that the cultural conditioning has eroded one’s personal judgements.
Savitri Bhai Phule, India's first female teacher, started the first school for girls in 1848 along with her husband Jyotibhai Phule after a long struggle. Female education continued to grow little by little. But with this BJP government privatizing education, education for women is becoming questionable.
And more-over India is a caste-based society. The oppression of Dalit women (2) is incalculable. They make them naked in public places. Gang violence and gang rape are also happening in public places. We also see the actions of such criminals being celebrated.
In the southern parts of India, such oppressions are lesser than in the northern parts of India. Especially in the states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where the progress of women is comparatively noticeable. Great leaders like Thanthai (Father) Periyar, women leaders like Meenambal and many progressive movements fought for social justice and against these caste and gender oppressions from British India period itself . As a result of the struggle and massive propaganda many changes took place in the society. The government also brought various reform laws.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar framed many laws in the constitution of India to generate equality for women. But the current corporate fascist government is trying to completely change the constitution. The previous Congress government also discriminated against women. Both the governments have not come forward to implement the 33% reservation for women in Parliament. In addition now the present BJP government is trying to legislate Manusmiruti (3) instead of the constitution. They are spreading hate politics all over India, even the Prime Minister and cabinet ministers are spreading ideas against religious minorities, Dalits and all women. BJP leaders are talking about bringing back the cruelly regressive practice of sati. (Sati or suttee is an ancient practice in which a widow belongs to upper caste gets herself burnt to ashes during her late husband’s funeral pyre. This, the widow would do by setting herself on fire while his corpse is being burnt.) It is said to be a practice to preserve the chastity of women. As the society grew civilized, laws were introduced to prohibit such reactionary practices.
Now such views of them against women drag the society back centuries.
The BJP government is making labor laws on behalf of corporates. We know it will definitely be against the workers. Female workers are already paid less than male workers. The revised Labor Act has drastically reduced the wages of women workers and stripped them of their hard-earned labor rights.
Oxfam India’s latest ‘India Discrimination Report 2022’ finds women in India despite their same educational qualification and work experience as men will be discriminated in the labour market due to societal and employers’ prejudices.
In today's environment of corporate interests, women and women workers are suffering tremendously all over the world. In countries with fascist regimes like India, women face even more oppressions.
Let's unite women around and across the world to get women's rights and a world of equality. Thank you for starting and continuing our journey as an effort for that.
(1) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), or Indian People’s Party, was elected in 2014 and continues to this day. It is a right-wing party, and under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has taken on an increasingly fascist character. Modi is feted by Australian politicians, but he had banned, in February, 2022, a documentary by BBC named, “Modi: The Man, The Myth, The Legend” for its focussing on Modi’s fierce way of handling the Kashmir conflict. This year he has banned a second BBC documentary “India: the Modi Question”. University students have been arrested and beaten for holding clandestine showings of the documentary.
(2) The Dalits, or “untouchables” form the lowest rung of the Indian caste system.
(3) Manusmiruti – Hindu religious law
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