Saturday, January 28, 2017

50,000 Gujarat riot victims still displaced, lack housing rights, 20% women face triple talaq: Janvikas book

A  Muslim resettlement colony in Ahmedabad
By Our Representative
A new book released on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Janvikas, one of the premier civil rights organizations of India, has estimated that around 50,000 Gujarat 2002 riot-affected Muslims should be qualified to be considered internally-displaced persons (IDPs) – a term coined by the United Nations to identify those ravaged by violent social conflicts.
Giving a graphic picture of their living conditions and empowerment, especially among women, the book, titled “Creating Spaces: Nurturing Leadership” -- which focuses, among other issues, on the impact of the 2002 communal carnage on Gujarat's IDPs -- believes, many of them live in an "extremely vulnerable" condition in several of the 86-odd colonies in seven districts.
The most pressing issue of these IDPs, insists the book, is housing ownership. The religious trusts which earlier gave lands for housing, are now reluctant to give them housing rights, the book regrets, adding, what is now being assured is residential rights and not ownership rights, which has brought them much current insecurity.
Calling the IDPs' life a “living testimony to the socio-political disaster”, the book – authored by sociologist Dr Uma Ramaswamy, and released in Ahmedabad on Saturday by P Sainath, a top journalist who focuses on socio-economic inequality in and the aftermath of globalization – notes how most of these colonies were “designed as relief centres”, and “built by Muslim religious trusts” with the help of civil society organizations.
Interventions by Janvikas by setting up Antarik Visthapit Hakk Rakshak Samitis (AVHRS) with a membership of 20,000 IDPs helped several of them to become aware of their rights, the book reports, noting how women folk among them began coming out of their homes, join protests, got capacitated and began taking leadership.
The book claims, what has changed is, the IDP women who earlier did not know their rights language now talk about them, participating in discussions, going to government offices to get their work done, and have begun learning to actively participate in school management committees.
Suggesting that this inevitably resulted in domestic conflicts, the book quotes one of the IDP women as saying, “In the beginning, men used to tell their women not to allow me into their homes. Men were insecure. But women looked at me as educated, empowered and started welcoming my visits and supporting me.”
Pointing towards how women got together to form Panchmahal Mahila Vikas Sanghthan (PMVS) in a Central Gujarat district to fight for women’s rights, the book says, “Several of these women, having gone through violence have sublimated their trauma to emerge as local leaders.”
Another organization formed was Mahila Samajik Nyay Manch (MSNM) in North Gujarat’s Aravalli and Sabarkantha districts. MSNM made a "social departure", with women resolving to “stay domestic violence, and most importantly address the complex issue of triple talaq”, the book reveals.
“Reportedly”, the book states, “20% women in these districts are made single because of ‘triple talaq’,” adding, “While violence against women has become an integral dimension of women’s lives across India, Muslim women are doubly burdened by the custom of ‘triple talaq’ that their personal law allows.”
The book says, “Although women have property rights, they now talk of how patriarchal culture does not favour women to enjoy even this. Women who are deserted, separated and leading single lives emerge as the poorest and most vulnerable.”

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