Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sign on to Say NO to safeguarding “traditional values” over women’s human rights!



We, the undersigned organisations and individuals across the globe, are alarmed and disappointed that the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) failed to adopt agreed conclusions at its 56thsession. This failure has diminished the considerable work, energy, time and costs that women all over the world invested on the 56th session of the CSW.  The advancement of women’s human rights should not be put on hold because of political battles between states.  We say NO to any re-opening of negotiations on the already established international agreements on women’s human rights and call on all governments to demonstrate their commitments to promote, protect and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedoms of women.

We  are particularly concerned to learn that our governments failed to reach a consensus on the basis of safeguarding “traditional values” at the expense of human rights and fundamental freedoms of women. We remind governments that all Member States of the United Nations (UN) have accepted that “the human rights of women and of the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights” as adopted by the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna.   Governments must not condone any tradition, cultural or religious arguments which deny human rights and fundamental freedoms of any person.  After more than 60 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was embraced and adopted by the UN, the relationship between traditional values and human rights remains highly contested.  We affirm the UDHR as not only ‘a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations’ but a common standard of assessment for all traditional values.  The UDHR is an embodiment of positive traditional values that are universally held by this community of nations and are consistent with the inherent dignity of all human beings.  We remind governments that under the Charter of the United Nations, gender equality has been proclaimed as a fundamental human right.  States cannot contravene the UN Charter by enacting or enforcing discriminatory laws directly or through religious courts nor can allow any other private actors or groups imposing their religious fundamentalist agenda in violation of the UN Charter.

“No one may invoke cultural diversity to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor limit their scope.  Not all cultural practices accord with international human rights law and, although it is not always easy to identify exactly which cultural practices may be contrary to human rights, the endeavour always must be to modify and/or discard all practices pursued in the name of culture that impede the enjoyment of human rights by any individual.” (Statement by Ms. Farida Shaheed, the Independent Expert in the field of cultural rights, to the Human Rights Council at its 14th session 31 May 2010)

Amongst other things, it is alarming that some governments have evoked so-called “moral” values to deny women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Sexual and reproductive rights are a crucial and fundamental part of women’s full enjoyment of all rights as well as integral to gender equality, development and social justice.  Social and religious morals and patriarchal values have  been employed to justify violations against women. Violence against women, coercion and deprivation of legal and other protections of women, marital rape, honour crimes, son preference, female genital mutilation, ‘dowry’ or ‘bride price’, forced and early marriages and ‘corrective rapes’ of lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and inter-sexed persons have all been justified by reference to ‘traditional values’.

We remind governments that the CSW is the principal global policy-making body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women with the sole aim of promoting women’s rights in political, economic, civil, social and educational fields.  Its mandate is to ensure the full implementation of existing international agreements on women’s human rights and gender equality as enshrined in the Convention on  the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action as well as other international humanitarian and human rights law.

We strongly demand all governments and the international community to reject any attempt to invoke traditional values or morals to infringe upon human rights guaranteed by international law, nor to limit their scope.  Customs, tradition or religious considerations must not be tolerated to justify discrimination and violence against women and girls whether committed by State authorities or by non-state actors.  In particular, we urge governments to ensure that the health and human rights of girls and women are secured and reaffirmed at the coming Commission on Population and Development and the International Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).  Any future international negotiations must move forward implementation of policies and programmes that secure the human rights of girls and women.

We call upon the member states of the UN and the various UN human rights and development entities to recognise and support the important role of women’s groups and organisations working at the forefront of challenging traditional values and practices that are intolerant to fundamental human rights norms, standards and principles.








This will be submitted to UN Member States, CSW and other relevant UN human rights and development entities.Endorse here. The deadline 5 April 2012.

More information:

Download the statement here: Statement from Women’s Organisations on CSW

Click here to read statements from Norway and the EU supporting women’s human rights

Click here to read UN Women’s Michele Bachelet “Impasse at CSW deeply regrettable”



In solidarity with fight against Panchami Land Acquisitions….

தோழர்களே, ப. சிவகாமி அவர்கள் நடத்தி வரும் இந்த தொடர் போராட்டத்திற்கு மாசெஸ் அமைப்பு ஆதரவு தெரிவிக்கிறது. இப்போராட்டம் காஞ்சிபுரத்தில் நடந்து வருகிறது. 7.4.2012 (saturday) எனும் நாளை நான் தேர்வு செய்துள்ளேன். இது ஒரு முக்கியமான பிரச்சனை. பஞ்சமி நில ஆக்கிரமிப்பில் சில கொடூர கொலைகளும் நடந்துள்ளன. இவற்றை கண்டிக்க ஒரு வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்துள்ளதாக கருதுகிறேன். இந்த பதிவின் வாயிலாக உங்கள் அனைவரிடமும் ஆதரவு கோருகிறேன்.

சனிக்கிழமை காலை 10 மணிக்கு நாம் காஞ்சிபுரத்தில் இருக்க வேண்டும். கலந்து கொள்ள விரும்புபவர்கள் 97908 45745 எனும் எண்ணில் தொடர்பு கொள்ளவும். இல்லையேல் உங்கள் தொடர்பு எண்ணை எனக்கு sms செய்யவும்.



In solidarity with fight against Panchami Land Acquisitions….

Mobile phone based report for Community Radio from Idinthakarai

Mobile phone based report for Community Radio from Idinthakarai, Kudankulam
MARCH 22, 2012
tags: anti-nuclear protest, community radio, Kudankulam,Udayakumar
by ponni

Recording of a report by Sundari from Idinthakarai, the village in Kudankulam where many are on fast unto death and 15000 people have gathered in protest of the Nucelar Plant. Sundari is a long time local activist in the region who has been part of the struggle against the Nuclear plant.

Police have cracked down on the village and there is now a complete blockade. Journalists are not being allowed at all. This is an effort to get news out regularly. This recording has been made possible by the efforts of activists who work with enabling reporting for community radio through mobile phones. These broadcast and others that will follow, will be sent to community radio networks within Tamilnadu and around the country. Please spread the news. A translation is available below.

Sundari reports from Idinthakarai here.

I am calling from Idinthakarai. Can I speak now?

My name is Sundari. I am from Idinthakarai. We have been in a protest against the Nuclear Plant since the past 219 days. Till now, we have not caused any nuisance to the government or the public. We are holding a Peaceful Protest. The Chief Minister told us that she will stand by the people. When Manmohan Singh declared that he will open the nuclear plant, she said that the wishes o the local people is what matters to her. She closed the plant saying it is against the wishes of the people. Now suddenly, in a completely unexpected manner, has brought it the paramilitary and police. We are being tortured as much as the people in Sri Lanka must have been. There is no water. They have stopped the electricity connection to our village. Even milk packets have not been allowed in for the children. They are not allowing any journalists inside. They are not allowing anyone from the nearby villages to come in. No one is being allowed out of the village. All forms of transport have been stopped, including buses. Any people who come to help us are being arrested immediately. They sent the police and told us to ask Udayakumar to surrender. They are forcing us to make him surrender. They are threatening us with harm and say they can do what they want and there is nothing we can do about it. Here we are, women, children, pregnant women- we are all here. Around 15000 of us have gathered here. This is not an individual struggle of Udayakumar. This is a struggle that all of us people here, who live here, are fighting for our soil, our ocean and our livelihood. This struggle is for that. Now why the state pretending like this individual person is has fought this struggle. That is a huge crime. We are all in this struggle together. How can they isolate him like this? We cannot have Udayakumar surrender. We have said, brings vans for all 15000 of us and we will climb into them calmly and peacefully and court arrest. We are ready for that. But they won’t accept that. From Kuthakuli 180 people have been arrested. About 48 among them are women. They have small children that they have left behind. Their cattle are standing unfed. They have taken these women put them in a dungeon and tortured them. This is wrong. What crime have they committed? They have simply performed their democratic right and duty to protest. This is not a struggle that began yesterday. It has been on for seven months. How come we don’t have the right to protest? People who have murdered ten people can roam free in this country. But here, our children don’t have milk. My heart breaks to think of the brutality of the government. We are unable to silence the cries of the hungry children. This is manifold of what has happened to the people in Sri Lanka. The world knows what is happening. What has happened to us should not happen to any people across the world. All we ask for is that you give milk for our children. We are asking that you arrest all 15000 of us. We will not allow for Udayakumar to be arrested alone. We are struggling peacefully. Tell us if we have harmed a single person. This is a fast unto death through peaceful means. Tell us if this is wrong. And all this for the nuclear plant that is so harmful for all of humanity. How is this fair? In a situation where women in labour have not been able to leave. We have kept her at home. What if something happens to that mother or child? Where will we go? All I am asking is- What have we done wrong? Why are we being tortured? We are in the midst of so much torture. They have blocked our village of completely. They have not let any journalists in. Every five minutes the security personnel come and intimidate us with guns and people run helter skelter. And they retreat and come back again. They are intimidating us. It breaks my heart to think that this is a democracy and that the Chief Minister is a woman. Many of us are on fast unto death. Nobody has come to our support. So I plead with you- the plant has not even been opened yet and already we are in this state. How are we going to live on this earth at this rate? I plead to with you to let the world know and this should not happen to anybody else. I plead with you. Thank you

news courtesy: R.r. Srinivasan via face book.


Koodankulam protesters solidarity movement starts relay fast in Chennai.

Koodankulam protesters solidarity movement starts relay fast in Chennai.
Venue: Thaayagam, MDMK office, Egmore, Chennai. Time: 9 a.m to 5 p.m

We request all democratic forces to join hands.

The struggle that has been on for decades against the koodankulam nuclear power plant has gained momentum in the last 7 months as a significant and co-ordinated people’s struggle. However the current turn of events have landed this extraordinary people’s movement into a critical juncture. Facing unjust slander by the central government on the antecedants of the leaders and their monetary status and demolishing the utterly unscientific proclamations of the Indian nuclear power scientist lobby the ordinary working masses, the fisher people of Koodankulam have stood by their resolve and continue till this moment even as guns are being pointed at their tiny coastal village from all directions possible. The Tamilnadu government whom the people of koodankulam trusted has let go of its promises and has announced the plant open just after the sankarankovil by election.

In this situation, thousands and thousands of police, para military and industrial security forces and rapid action forces have arrived upon the democratic and peaceful struggle of the people and have literally laid a siege making idinthakarai a forsaken island. This is not just illegal but its against the grains of democracy.

If the state thinks it can bend the will of a peaceful protest using its ugly hands of force we can’t just stand witness to this and there cannot be a greater injustice to keep quiet on the face of such state violence against its own people. In order to protest many groups and individuals have come together in the name of koodankulam protesters solidarity movement and have started a relay fast from today. On the first day of the fast women writers and activists took part in the fast.
The fast today was started solemnly and many leaders including mallai sathya of MDMK, Vanni arasu of Viduthalai siruthaigal katchi came to felicitate the fast. Many tamil writers, artists and activists took place and registered their emotional and political solidarity to the biggest struggle of our times.

Demands of the relay fast
1. The enormous police force gathered in koodankulam should be immediately withdrawn. Section 144 which has been clamped for almost a month is ill motivated to fizzle out a peaceful and democratic struggle and hence it has to be removed.

2. It is a shameful and heinous precedent if a government thinks it can resolve a struggle by stopping electriciry and drinking water to a village with thousands of people. Similarly food, medicines, hygiene facilities, and essential material like milk for the children should be restored to the community immediately.

3. The children of the protesters who are locked up in the siege on Idinthakarai have not been able to write their school final exams. This is a clear cut child rights violation. The children should be enabled to write their exams with due protection.

4. We request the Chief minister of Tamil nadu to hold a open minded dialogue with the protesting fisher people and resolve the issue of their threatened livelihoods.

5. The koodankulam people are struggling to safeguard their livelihoods, the life of their children and for the safety of tamilnadu. Even if one cannot accept thir demand they do not deserve to be threatened at gun point and we urge all democratic forces to raise their voices against this unjust violence that is being unleashed on a peaceful struggle.

An open appeal to NHRC and SNHRC

STOP REPRESSIVE MEASURES AND ECONOMIC BLOCKADE IN KOODANKULAM which is against the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.

Children are the most affected without supply of food. Electricity and Water supply has been cut. People are denied of their ‘RIGHTS TO LIVE’

pl send this as a mail to,,

or fax it to SNHRC – 24951484


1. 91-11-23384863 (Administration)
2. 91-11-23386521 (Law Division) For Complaints-filing
3. 91-11-23073876 (Investigation)


A life lost…a painful tribute – Sunitha Krishnan

When I think of Shaheda, I remember a bright and bubbly child who would run and hug me close. She was 9 yrs old when her maternal uncle sold her. The mother who was also into prostitution was a mute spectator. We got the information a tad too late, but we rushed and rescued her. On a precaution we also rescued her younger sister Sahera as we thought she could be the next target.Out of fear that we may book a case if they protested the mother and uncle kept quite. In those days we were not too particular about booking a case mostly because we did not work closely with police then and felt it was just enough that we saved the children. Also our main informers were women in prostitution and they were not at all comfortable giving any information to the police.

What was very striking about Shaheda was her extraordinary resilience, the moment she reached the safety of our shelter she was a new person. Her own efforts to overcome her pain and trauma was for me a great inspiration. I do not remember spending too much time counseling her apart from the first three or four sessions. Then she became a role model for all other victimized children. Her interest to excel in all activities both curricular and extra-curricular made her a high achiever. In the meantime we saw change in the mother who slowly gave up prostitution and started a new life. For 7 yrs Shaheda lived in our shelter. After she finished her X std I asked her whether she wanted to go back to her mother. Shaheda and Sahera both felt the need to go back to their mother. We let them go with a undertaking from the mother that she will ensure that the children’s education will not be discontinued. In the first two years we regularly monitored their welfare. After that we lost touch.

Yesterday evening I got a call that Shaheda died. I was numbed to silence. The worst was to know that she was dumped before a dargah and that is where she breathed her last, day before yesterday night. Shahida was positive due to the sexual violation she was subjected to, but throughout the 7yrs that she was with us she was like any normal child. 3 yrs after she left our shelter slowly opportunistic infections crept in. The mother refused to take her to a hospital fearing social repercussion, instead took her to one dargah after another. Finally three weeks back when matter worsened she just dumped the girl before a dargah and left. My little Shaheda was just 19 yrs old…she was lying before a dargah as a destitute, seeking alms…can there be a more painful and inhuman death?

Today I am filled with guilt and pain. Was I right in sending this child back to her mother? Should I have taken care knowing her HIV status. They say institutional care is the last option and community based care should be the first option. But if the communities around us are no more safe for our children where do we send them? Should I have created a longer follow up plan…if so for how long should we have followed up? As civil society organizations do we have the wherewithal to sustain long term follow up plans…I kept asking the mother why she did not abandon the child with me, I could have taken care?
As I struggle with all these questions…Shahida’s face haunts me…did she deserve such a death?

The wage gap

இன்று பெல்ஜியத்தில், பெண்ணுக்கும் ஆணுக்கும் சமமான ஊதியம் வழங்கவேண்டிய அவசியத்தை முன்னிறுத்தி “சமவூதிய நாளாக” (EQUAL PAY DAY) பல தொழிற்சங்கங்கள் அறிவித்திருக்கின்றன….