10 Things To Know About ‘Rape Roko’: A Fight Swati Maliwal ‘Won’t Give Up’

Swati Maliwal will not give up.

Half an hour after it was reported that the Union Cabinet has approved an Ordinance providing for death penalty to those convicted of raping girls below 12 years of age, the chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women tweeted to congratulate the people for achieving a victory in a short span of time. She had started an indefinite hunger-strike on April 13 to demand stringent laws against rape of minors and action against those accused in Kathua and Unnao rape cases. This is part of the ‘Rape Roko’ campaign she started on January 31 this year.

“But until something concrete happens, I will not give up. Until a system is there which ensures safety for the last girl, I won’t give up,” Maliwal said after congratulating her supporters for the Ordinance. Amid false reports that she had broken her fast, she further clarified that she won’t stop until the Ordinance is passed.

Since January 31, when she began the ‘Rape Roko’ campaign, Maliwal has led a relentless battle to fight crimes against women. Here are 10 things you need to know about her campaign:

1. The Satyagraha

The ‘Rape Roko’ campaign started on January 31 with a ‘Satyagraha’ aimed at collecting 1 lakh signatures from citizens to demand urgent action against rape of minors. She also announced that the DCW team, including Maliwal, will work day and night until March 8 — the International Women’s Day — until her demands are met.

She subsequently wrote a letter on February 3 to the Prime Minister with a charter listing these demands.

2. Six Demands


The charter formulated by the DCW, and subsequently circulated for collecting signatures, has six demands. The first among them: a law by the central government that awards death penalty to those guilty of raping minors within six months.

The demands also include more fast-track courts for cases of crimes against women and children, increasing the manpower of Delhi Police and digitising its functions for accountability, strengthening of forensic science laboratories and prosecution departments, and better utilisation of the Nirbhaya fund.

A letter to the Prime Minister that Maliwal wrote today lists a more immediate action-oriented version of this charter. These demands have also been made to the central government as opposed to both central and state governments.

For example, instead of better utilisation of the Nirbhaya fund, Maliwal has demanded a committee — comprising of the Home Minister, the Lieutenant Governor, the Chief Minister, the DCW, and the Commissioner — for monitoring women’s safety in the capital on a monthly basis. “I have taken a resolute vow that will continue sitting on the hunger-strike until the Central Government doesn’t fulfill the following demands,” the letter says.

 

3. A March And A Website

To gather momentum and support for her campaign, Maliwal marched along with students from the Vishwavidyalaya Metro Station to the arts faculty campus of the Delhi University on February 13. On the same day, a website was launched for gathering signatures online for a letter to the PM.

4. Detained On The Way To PMO

On the eve of the International Women’s Day, a day before the scheduled end of the ‘Satyagraha’, Maliwal was detained on her way to the Prime Minister’s Office. She was going to deliver the letters received in support of the campaign. The number of such letters was around 5.55 lakh according to some reports.

“Ms. Maliwal has been gravely injured and she is not in a condition to move her arms. This has happened while she was on her way to the PMO in a peaceful manner, to deliver the thousands of letters that the commission received over the last few weeks,” a DCW official said about Maliwal’s detention.

5. Boxer Shorts, A Human Chain, And A Song

A day before Maliwal was detained, male volunteers of the ‘Rape Roko’ campaign led an interesting awareness drive. They walked in boxer shorts in the capital to say, “Clothes do not cause rape, sick mentality does.”

On March 8, thousands formed a human chain around the Central Park at Connaught Place in Delhi to raise awareness about the issue and reiterate the charter of demands. A song featuring the likes of Anushka Manchanda and Farhan Akhtar was also released.

6. MPs Show Solidarity

A fortnight after Maliwal wrote to all MPs, the DCW said on March 10 that MPs across party lines have extended their support to her campaign.

“I would assure you that I would raise this sensitive matter in the Parliament and before our Prime Minister,” Krishan Pal Gurjar, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, said in his letter.

“The Parliament and State Legislatures must frame stricter laws against such crimes, in order to ensure the safety and well being of women and children,” said PJ Kurien, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

7. Hunger-Strike After Kathua And Unnao

After the gory details of the Kathua rape to light and after the death of the father of the survivor in the Unnao rape case, Maliwal has intensified her movement with an indefinite hunger-strike.

Her initial letter addressed to ‘Friends’ demanded justice for Kathua and Unnao, among other demands from the ‘Rape Roko’ Charter. Today, she has written a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and set conditions on breaking the fast.

 

8. Affidavits Not Enough

In a PIL filed after the rape of an 8-month-old in Delhi in January, apparently the trigger for Maliwal’s campaign, the Centre filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court yesterday saying it is thinking of amending the law to provide for death penalty in cases involving children below 12 years of age. The Central government had earlier opposed the plea for a death penalty.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal requested Maliwal to end her fast after the submission by the government in the court, but Maliwal refused to budge. “Every day affidavits are submitted in courts by the government. Unless the law comes into enforcement, I won’t stop,” she said.

9. Finally, Ordinance In Progress

A day later, Union Cabinet today approved an ordinance with a host of changes in laws concerning rape. In cases of gangrape of a girl-child below 12 years of age, the punishment will be death sentence or life imprisonment, ANI reported. The minimum punishment for those raping girls below that age is 20 years’ imprisonment.

Similarly, minimum punishment for raping girls below 16 years has been doubled to 20 years’ imprisonment, and increased to ten years for raping women.

10. Not All Think Death Penalty Is Right

A group of lawyers and activists have also expressed differences with Maliwal over her demand for death penalty. While Maliwal has argued that death penalty will serve as a deterrent, the group explained to Maliwal that there is no evidence to suggest that.

“The most important factor that can act as a deterrent is the certainty of punishment, rather than the severity of its form,” the group, which includes lawyers Indira Jaising and Vrinda Grover and activists such as Kavita Krishnan and Annie Raja, wrote in a letter to Maliwal.

Featured image: Swati Jai Hind/Facebook
Similar Posts

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below