Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top Gujarat-based woman rights activist regrets it's "common" for Indian women leaders to face sexual abuse

Manjula Pradeep during a women rights campaign
By Our Representative
Foremost woman Dalit rights activist from Gujarat, Manjula Pradeep, executive director of Navsarjan Trust, referring to a gruesome incident of sexual abuse in a Facebook post on October 30, 2015 on her timeline, has said that “it is high time" one raised the point of concern as it is not only happening or happen to one person, but many women across India who are in leadership position.”
Referring to an incident of how a former male employee (we are withdrawing the name -- Editor) of a Dalit rights organization had “sexually attacked” a senior woman leader in a campaign of violence against women, which she began on November 25, 2014, she said, in her Facebook post, the incident “completely shocked” her. She added, it is only "only a woman who can understand what it means to be attacked sexually.”
The Gujarat-wide campaign attracted considerable attention, so much so that it was called an effort by a “green gang” to fight for women’s rights. In one such campaign, a media report said, 1,600 “bravehearts” from various villages of the state joined a rally with green muffler tied around the forehead on the first day of the rally.
The media report said, “These women have done incredible work in the field of human rights. They would talk about the issues and challenges pertaining to women.” The motto of the campaign was – Dalit women suffered two types of oppression, one as a Dalit, and another as a woman.
Pradeep, who has been one of the top Indian activists who successfully campaigned for taking Dalit plight in international forums, including in the United Nations, says, though this employee had been given chance apologize ... he did not.”
In fact, pointing towards how an male employee behaves, she regretted, instead of apologising, this male employee "tried to do everything by filing a case in the labour court, lodging a police complaint, by trying to lodge a petition in the High Court of Gujarat”, adding, this employee went so far as to “a letter to the charity commissioner."
Recalling what it means for a woman to be in the leading position, Pradeep said, “Eleven years back, I was elected against five Dalit men who were my colleagues, to lead Navsarjan. From the first day itself, I started tasting the bitter truth of what it means to be head. Those men who lost against me, tried to make my life hell”, Pradeep says.
“They tried to implicate me in a false murder case. There were several of them who sat with banners, placards, stripping themselves saying, I am the worst ever person in Dalit movement. They equated me with Hitler. They humiliated me by saying that I am a loose character woman”, she angrily said.
“Despite all odds”, she said, she went on doing her work. “There were several times, when I wanted to submit my resignation, but the board did not accept it. During my tenure as Director of Navsarjan, the organization grew up as one of the effective grass roots organizations and also received few recognitions.”

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