AIPWA Leader Addresses Talks in the US and UK

AIPWA Secretary and CPI(ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan delivered the 3rd Maharaj Kaul memorial lecture on September 26th at the behest of the Centre for South Asian Studies, University of California Berkeley. Her lecture was titled ‘Women Want Freedom’: Shifting the Terms of Debate in the Anti Rape Movement.

On October 3rd, she addressed an open meeting and discussion in London at the SOAS on ‘India’s anti-rape movement – experiences, reflections and strategies for the future’ organised by the Freedom Without Fear Platform, a loose coalition of women’s organisations and individual women inspired by India’s post-December 16 2012 anti-rape movement. The Freedom Without Fear Platform aims to provide an arena for Black, South Asian and ‘Minority Ethnic’ women to lead discussions on the violence against women and girls; to highlight the co-opting of violence against women and girls issues by various groups who seek to further their own racist and imperialist agendas; and to expose the implicit and explicit violence against women and girls in the economic policies imposed by international financial institutions and governments. The meeting was chaired by Amrit Wilson on behalf of the Platform.

At this meeting, Kavita reflected on the experiences and lessons of the anti-rape movement in India. She said that such movements push against patriarchy only if they serve to make visible the discrimination, coercion, and violence inherent in the normal, the everyday structures of family, society, state. Pointing out the racism inherent in some of the reporting by media of US or UK of sexual violence and gender discrimination in India or other South or West Asian countries, she said it would be comforting to patriarchy in the West to draw a binary between ‘unfree Indian women, free Western women’. She said that instead of gasping at the horrors of Indian patriarchy, what is needed is to make visible the coercion and unfreedom of women which appear ‘normal’ in the context of Western countries. She spoke of the need to interrogate policies of the British Government against ‘high risk’ domestic violence cases or legislation against forced marriges, and propaganda against grooming, that seeks, in the name of ‘protecting women’, to take away any control an immigrant or working class woman has over her life, and the profiling, surveillance and discipline of working class and immigrant communities. She also pointed out that while rape culture and victim blaming flourish in the US, UK, and Europe, it is equally important to point out how state policy itself in these countries in times of austerity measures, moralises against women in non-sexual ways too, for instance by telling women who are granted welfare that they are ‘bad/failed mothers.’ She called for genuine international solidarity which would interrogate the ways in which global capital and imperialism is implicated in violence against women all over the world. The talk was followed by lively discussion.

Kavita also addressed a talk at the London School of Economics Gender Institute and another at Cambridge University organised by the Students’ Union.

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