Representatives from twenty five women´s groups from Gujarat, Delhi, UP and Mumbai who met in Vadodara on May 1 2002 strongly condemn the systematic and horrific violence that has been inflicted upon people in the state and especially upon women and children. We want to place before the nation the nature and extent of violence that has been perpetrated and continues against women. It has been over two months and the fear and insecurity facing people is tremendous. This is compounded by the fact that even large relief camps, the only secure place for those people who have fled murderous mob attacks and which are housing over ten thousand people have faced attacks in Ahmedabad and other places.
Several fact-finding reports by both independent teams and by the NHRC provide compelling evidence of sexual violence committed against women. Women have been subjected to brutal forms of sexual assault and many of them were also burnt alive. Many women and children have been witness to mass sexual assault and subsequent murder of their relatives. The trauma of these survivors is bound to be tremendous. In this situation of continuing violence and the complicity of the State in perpetrating this and protecting criminal elements, these criminal acts have gone unreported and unpunished. To further the misery, women are the targets of physical, verbal and sexual abuse in the so-called combing operations being carried out by the police in the wake of the carnage.
In addition, camps in several areas are being dismantled and people are being forced to move back to areas where they have run away from, where their homes have been burnt and razed to the ground, where they have seen members of their families and communities stripped, beaten, burnt, raped and mutilated. A Gujarat Government GR has been issued to dismantle all camps by May 31, 2002 yet in Dahod district camps have been dismantled without relocating people in Dahod district. . Where are victimised citizens to go in the absence of a proper rehabilitation plan and assurance of safety.
In the situation of the breakdown of administrative machinery in the state and the vulnerability and insecurity with which people are living, we place the following demands
The state should allocate land for people who want to shift from camps into safe localities of their choice and a special rehabilitation package for single women and female headed households.
Relief and rehabilitation packages should be at least comparable to those given to the earthquake affected.
The State should take complete responsibility for the running and maintenance of the camps in a humane manner. It is imperative that the appalling sanitary conditions be improved and better health care be provided in the camps. Adequate facilities to address the health needs of pregnant women and the trauma of all the camp residents, particularly women, must be provided.
The camps should not be dismantled without consultation with camp organisers and those living in camps
It is imperative that the appalling sanitary conditions be improved and better health care be provided in the camps. Adequate facilities to address the health needs of pregnant women and the trauma of all the camp residents, particularly women, must be provided.
FIR´s should be lodged immediately in all criminal cases. Specifically for cases of violence against women, we strongly recommend setting up of Special Courts to deal with them, with specific reference to rules of evidence as medical examinations were not possible and in many cases the women were burnt and killed. In view of the extraordinary circumstances under which the crimes were committed and evidence that state machinery was not accessible to the victims, there is a need to make the normal requirements of a legal process contingent on these factors.
To ensure impartial assessment of the situation and as a step towards reconciliation and justice we demand that international human rights mechanisms be employed immediately to address the horrific violations of rights of the minority community, with a particular focus on women in the community. In this regard, we demand that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against women and other concerned Special Rapporteurs be called in for investigation and assessment.
Gujarat Forum for Womens Studies, Ahmedabad
DKT India, Vadodara
Jan Kalyan Seva Samiti
Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Ahmedabad
Shanti Abhiyan, Vadodara
ANANDI, Bhavnagar, Devgarh Baria
Mahila Samakhya , Vadodara
Ahmedabad community Foundation
Citizens Initiative, Ahmedabad