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Women’s Groups manhandled, pushed & arrested a day after the Government’s discussion on extending the Parliament session to Pass the Reservation Bill

New Delhi, 21th February, 2014: Several women’s rights organizations demonstrating outside the parliament yesterday to demand speedy passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, were violently pushed into police vans and arrested in the afternoon where they were made to wait till late evening. This shocking incident came a day after the Government announced that they were contemplating to extend the parliament session for getting the long-pending Bill passed.

Furious women’s rights activists were appalled at the way they were handled by the police and expressed their anguish over the Government’s non commitment towards passing the Bill in Lok Sabha when it has already got tabled in Rajya Sabha in 2010.

“The bill, which has been in the making since 1996, will again be pushed back if not passed in this Parliament session,” said Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research, who was leading the protest yesterday.

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Women comprise nearly 50 per cent of India’s population yet continue to be under-represented in all aspects of politics including as elected representatives in the Parliament and Legislative Councils. The marginalisation of women from politics is clear as today women hold only 10.9 percent of the parliamentary seats and make up less than 1 percent of ministers and 4 percent of the negotiators in major development processes.

The Women’s Reservation Bill demands the political inclusion of women through a 33% reservation of seats mandate through Parliamentary elections. This has been a long-standing demand of over 17 years which has routinely been treated with little seriousness from the political leaders.

Yesterday, representatives from approximately 12 women’s rights organizations reached the gate of the Parliament, while it was in session, to sloganeer for the Bill which once again failed to be tabled in the Lok Sabha. The Bill had been listed to be taken up in the ongoing session and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Kamal Nath, had also expressed his intent to extend Parliament to pass crucial bills. Women’s groups staged a protest to ensure that this intent gets translated into effective action.

“When the Parliament can pass the Telangana Bill despite huge opposition, why can’t they do the same for the Women’s Reservation Bill? Why is the system so hostile towards women? The women of this country will not tolerate this anymore,” further added an aggrieved Dr. Kumari.

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The protestors were roughed up by the Police, CRPF and RAF personnel who reached the spot immediately. The group courted arrest and were huddled together and taken to Parliament Street Police Station in Police jeeps &buses, where they were detained for over 3 hours.

Alliance Meets Shri Prakash Karat for 33% Women Reservation Bill

The 33% Now alliance arranged a meeting in support of the 33% Women’s Reservation Bill at AKG bhavan, near Gole market with CPI(M) leader, Shri Prakash Karat. The representatives from leading women organizations including Jagmati from AIDWA,  Bhavna from ANHAD,  Padmini from JWP,  Nilakshi from Bahai, Parvinder from Oxfam, representatives from NFIW, Sonia and Anshika from Center for Social Research,  Radhika and Rachna from Women Power Connect.

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Shri Karat on one hand shared that the up going Telangana Bill is consuming majority of time in the parliament, but also assured that the Left MPs will take up the issue of the Women Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha if the house functions smoothly in the next two days.

He said they are hoping the Telanga bill is passed and the Lok sabha will look into other matters in the next two three days.  Further he said that they will double the number of women candidates from CPI (M) in the general elections. As per Mr. Karat’s suggestion the alliance will seek an appointment with Mr.Kamal Nath, Minister of Parliament Affairs and urge him to place the bill in the business hours of the Lok Sabha.

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The alliance also received a warm welcome and word of Support from Smt Brinda Karat, who reaffirmed her commitment with the women’s cause and to strengthen them to get their rightful share.

33 Percent Now! rally

#33Percent Now rally

#33Percent Now rally

Hundreds of women gathered from all walks of life to support the 33 percent now movement here in the national capital on 12th February 2014. Many prominent women rights activists as well as leaders were present at the rally including Dr. Ranjana Kumari (director) CSR, Ms Brinda Karat, Ms Shobha Oza (Mahila congress) and Ms. Nandita Das (women’s activist and actress) to name a few. There were more than 30 Ngo’s present namely AIWA, AISF (JNU), AIWC, All India Democratic Writers Association, All India Mahila Congress, ANHAD, BGVS, Centre for Social Research, Chetna Vikas – Jharkhand, EKTA- Tamil Nadu, Guild of service Rajasthan University women’s association, HNYKS- Haryana, Hope for the suffering, Institute for social development – Odisha, Integrated development foundation Bihar, Jagori, MRA, Ms Subrahmaniam(Independent Researcher), Ms Usha Mehra, Ms Singh (Independent Consultant) , Oxfam India, PHIA, Stree Shakti, The hunger project, The young citizen of India Gujarat, VMM- Andhra Pradesh, Women Power connect and YWCA.

The women’s coalition demanded the passage of the women’s reservation bill, which has been pending since more than last 3 years since it was passed in the Rajya Sabha. The struggle to get the women’s reservation bill has been going on since more than 17 year and has been marked with various protests and demonstrations across the country noted Dr Kumari. With more than 30 Ngo’s coming together to demand the passage of the bill the need for the immediate passage of the bill was highlighted given the current situation of women in Indian political scenario and  the danger of the bill getting lapsed if it is not passed in the current session. Dr Kumari noted that this will be a gross injustice to half the population of this country if this bill is not passed. This has not been done in any country and this will only be an injustice by government on the people of this country.

Director- Centre For Social Research

Director- Centre For Social Research

Ms Karat addressed the audience and said that even if we are not given what is ours then we will have to fight for our rights and continue our struggle. “The bill was passed by the upper house of parliament in 2010, and we have been demanding that it be passed in the lower house, but it has faced resistance from male parliamentarians,” Nandita Das, a Bollywood actress and social activist, addressed the rally in central Delhi. “The men in parliament need to realize that this is not about giving up their political power, but that by giving women their right to a political voice, it will be for the betterment of the entire nation,” she said.

Ms Brinda Karat from the Mahila congress

Ms Brinda Karat from the Mahila congress

Currently women hold only 11 percent of the seats in the Lok Sabha (lower house) and Rajya Sabha (upper house) of parliament combined, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) – half the global average of 21.4 percent.

Indian women and girls still face many dangers – from female foeticide, child marriage, dowry and ‘honor’ killings to discrimination in health and education and crimes such as rape, domestic violence and human trafficking. Giving them a voice by empowering them by giving them their rightfully deserved place in policy making positions will give the women of this country an opportunity to break barriers and stand up for themselves.

The women’s reservation bill will ensure 33 percent seats for women in parliament and state assemblies. The women’s coalition in the past few days has been meeting parliamentarians, urging them to mobilize support of their party colleagues on the issue. The public meeting at Jantar Mantar was followed by a march to parliament. There was a sea of people, all in one voice demanding 33 percent now!

Young team of #33Percent Now !

Young team of #33Percent Now !