What is the status of safety of Women Rights Activists? Are Women Rights Activists safe? what should be done to make them safe and secured?
Rights of individual and society is stated in law. Though there are provisions in the law, if we look at our context and society, in fact many people have not been access justice and actually forbidden from it, in the society. The context is such that its not just they are unable to access it, but they also do not have the knowledge about their rights. To get justice from law is far from them; these people do not even know that there is law with legal provisions. Status of women’s right in our country is in the similar state. Therefore safety and security of human rights defenders and women human rights defender is also one of the important part. The society where we live in, is more challenging from the security context for the defenders.
In rural areas lives of women in marginalized family, society and the environment of society is very difficult. Women in such marginalized society and family face mental and physical abuses and torture from husband, mother- in- law and other members in family, even though they work from morning till night, because they do not have access to financial resources. At the community they level, they face accusation of being witch, polygamy are common abuses that is faced by women. Basic rights such as education and health, lack of access to financial resources, powerless – though they have ears they have no access to information about the rights of women and be aware about their rights. You cannot speak about your feeling and thoughts though you have a mouth, though you have ears, they donot hear and know about their rights.
Life of women activists like us are at risk for standing up, speak up for women whose voices are not heard, who are marginalised and discriminated who are victims of violence. Coordinating and Facilitating to end advocate for such vulnerable people makes us more insecure and unsafe.
There was an incident in the village. A young woman in the had developed a relationship with a man. After long relationship, they later decided to get married. They eloped and stayed together for a week at the boy’s house. After 1 and ½ weeks the family member of the boy sent him somewhere, and the woman came to us for help. After this we had to facilitate make sure that the woman gets justice and for this we gathered the two families in the village. Detail discussion went between the two families. Many of the community people spoke in favor the victim, but the perpetrator did not accept her because of the support of so called powerful elements in the community. Which is why her life was in the more vulnerable state. Many question arise as where should she be placed, where to go and what to do? But we did not stop advocating for her. To get justice we went ahead in the legal process. Instantly we put the issues in front of the Human rights Activists, and with their help we placed in a safe place for the night and designated responsibility to process further in a legal process , in favour of the victim.
After this facilitation, I had to walk home and it was already dark. The road to home was not safe, no one knows what will happen, but I arrived home safely. After reaching home I was asked many questions at home, I got scolding instead, if the family members did not like my answers. In addition, I got many threats on phone because of my work. This is how women like us have to go through many negative state physically, mentally and financially. The negativity of such thing in society stays for long.
While advocating for other, you get to loose your own rights and while facilitating others security you tend to being yourself unsafe. Law enforcements in our country is not strong.
If activists like us have a safe and supportive environment from home and community, we would feel safe. There should be strong laws and policy for women . I would like to thank for giving me an opportunity to express my views. This is our campaign so will work for this. Thank you.