self-appointed moral police on young women having lunch in a pub at Mangalore, Karnataka
We, women and men, condemn the brutal and unprovoked assault by self-appointed moral police on young women having lunch in a pub in the coastal city of Mangalore, Karnataka, during the afternoon of Saturday, 24 January 2009. We are saddened by the inaction of the public who looked on and simply watched the attack unfold. But we appreciate the attitude and actions of the staff of the pub who tried to intervene and the few young men who stood up to the attackers.
We are shocked by the tardy action of the State administration, police, and political leadership, some of whom have dismissed this is as a 'minor incident'. We do not believe that violent threats to the democratic freedoms and human rights of all citizens, including women, can be treated as minor.
We are deeply disturbed by the sharply escalating trend of political and social violence against women in public and private spaces as means to enforce a particularly regressive interpretation of culture in the name of 'religion and country' that has been taking place in several parts of India. We condemn all such forms of gender-based violence against women and also children (girls and boys) and the attitudes that make such violence acceptable, whether in the family, social or public spheres.
We believe this was not an isolated assault by a bunch of hooligans but part of the profoundly contested political struggle over what constitutes Indian traditions, religions and cultures. It is evident that in this instance the attackers were emboldened to carry out the unprovoked assault in a political environment that supports a particularly narrow and fanatical view of Indian culture as also a repressive attitude to women.
We recognise the role of the media in bringing this to public notice and the media's unrelenting efforts to get the State to act against those immediately responsible for the assault. However, we are troubled by the ethical question of why those members of the media who had prior knowledge of this did not inform the police, which was their duty as citizens.
Sumi Krishna, Bangalore Ammu Joseph, Bangalore Soma K.P., New Delhi U. Vindhya, Hyderabad Joy Ranadive, Ahmedabad Mary E. John, New Delhi Gopa Samanta, Burdwan (West Bengal) Anuradha Prasad, Bangalore Sharad Lele, Bangalore Prajval Shastri, Bangalore Ajit Menon, Chennai Cynthia Stephen, Bangalore
-- We have to start looking at the world through women's eyes' how are human rights, peace and development defined from the perspective of the lives of women? It's also important to look at the world from the perspective of the lives of diverse women, because there is not single women's view, any more than there is a single men's view." -- Charlotte Bunch
Adv Kamayani Bali Mahabal South Asia Advocacy Coordinator Women's Health and Rights Advocacy Partnership (WHRAP) Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre For Women (ARROW) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia