The genocide in Gujarat has occupied all of us for more than four months. Numbed as we have been by the spate of events, all of us have been responding in various ways to these horrific events. The escalation of patriarchal violence through wars and pogroms of right-wing governments all over has brought us all together as always. In the context of Gujarat, we continue to be responding to relief, rehabilitation, legal cases and public awareness campaigns. The wounds are still raw and the effects of the genocide unleashed by the BJP-VHP-RSS-Bajrang Dal combine appears to be never ending.
Women from the Muslim community have been assaulted, raped and humiliated as never before. Of as much concern is the visible mobilisation of Hindu women in the hate campaign. As women's organisations we need to organise against a growing right-wing ascendancy that threatens our very existence and dignity. The participation of Dalits, Adivasis and Hindu women in the pogrom against the Muslim community in Gujarat also needs to be seen in the context of right-wing politics that threatens to divide various oppressed groups and dissipate struggles over real survival issues.
Such questions are painful and complex but not impossible if we put all our energies, experiences, and strengths together to face the challenges thrown up by this grim scenario. Several women's groups had met in Baroda in May and discussed issues of concern to women - from the sexual violence experienced, to issues of relief and rehabilitation. Over the last few weeks, many women's groups have expressed a need to take forward this process and concretise action plans.
With this in view, we are taking the initiative to organise a day-long meeting on: "Impact of the Gujarat Genocide on Women: Challenges and Strategies" on Saturday, 10th August 2002 in New Delhi. The venue and detailed schedule will follow soon. Please keep yourself free on this date, and make train reservations if necessary.
On 9th August, Saheli completes twenty-one years of its existence. We take this opportunity to stand firm and reiterate our commitment to resisting forces of fundamentalism and patriarchal control. We hope this meeting will give all of us the opportunity to talk about the horrors of Gujarat, to grapple with the overwhelming scale of the violence and to move forward together.
You will have to bear your travel costs, but you are most welcome to stay in any of our homes in case you do not have other accommodation in Delhi. Do join us and confirm your participation as soon as possible. Looking forward to your active involvement.
All of us in Saheli
Saheli Women's Resource Centre, Above Shop Nos. 105-108, Defence Colony Flyover Market (South Side), New Delhi 110 024, Tel.: 461 6485, E-mail: email@example.com