Tag Archives: gender


Partition, Patriarchy and the Politics of Memory: film screening and discussion

Partition, Patriarchy and the Politics of Memory: film screening and discussion

Saturday 11 November 1.00 pm

Unite the Union, 33-37 Moreland St, Clerkenwell, London EC1V 8BB

Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters) screening and discussion with Humaira Saeed (Nottingham Trent University) and Amrit Wilson (South Asia Solidarity Group)

Including a photo exhibition titled ‘The Uprisings of 1857’ from 12pm.

Khamosh Pani (Dir. Sabiha Sumar, 2003, 101 mins), a film in Punjabi with English sub-titles, is a winner of 14 international awards. Set in a village in Pakistan during the Zia era, it is about the long shadow of Partition on women’s lives.


Today, as the forces which fuelled Partition 70 years ago are once again becoming extremely powerful, we reflect on some contemporary resonances of the film across South Asia, including in India under BJP rule.

Humaira Saeed teaches English Literature at Nottingham Trent University. She is the author of Persisting Partition: Affect, Memory and Trauma in Women’s Narratives of Pakistan (London: Bloomsbury, forthcoming 2018), and is beginning work on a new research project tentatively entitled “Exploring Dissident Sexuality in Postcolonial Texts”.

Amrit Wilson is a writer and activist on issues of gender, race and imperialism in Britain and South Asia. She is the author of Finding a Voice (London: Virago, 1978) and Dreams, Questions, Struggles: South Asian Women in Britain (London: Pluto, 2006) and a member of South Asia Solidarity Group.

The exhibition ‘The Uprisings of 1857’ will also be on display from 12.00pm onwards so do join us early if you can! Tea, coffee and snacks will be provided. Organised by South Asia Solidarity Group www.southasiasolidarity.org Twitter: @SAsiaSolidarity

Please join our Facebook event page here: South Asia Solidarity Group.

Supported by Unite the Union.

Hear Kalpana Wilson speak on India’s 70th Independence Day on 15 August 2017




Black, South Asian and Minority Women’s Organisations and Academics write to Narendra Modi about gender violence

PRESS RELEASE 15 October 2015

For immediate release

Black, South Asian and Minority Women’s Organisations and Academics write to Narendra Modi about gender violence

With less than a month to go till Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK, all the major South Asian, Black and minority ethnic women’s organisations involved in combatting violence against women, together with more than 20 prominent South Asian women academics from British universities have written to Narendra Modi expressing their deep disquiet about the escalation of violence against women since he came to power. Citing detailed evidence, they write that they are particularly concerned about the Indian Prime Minister’s relationship with the RSS which they describe as ‘a paramilitary organisation modelled on the Italian Fascist and German Nazi parties known, along with its allied groups, for its violent misogyny openly displayed in the pronouncements of its leaders’.

They write that Mr Modi’s cabinet ‘includes a number of ministers against whom criminal cases, including rape, are pending’ and urge him to dismiss them and also dismiss, Amit Shah who, they note ‘directly incited rape’ in April 2014 calling on Hindus to ‘take revenge’ on ‘those who have been ill treating our mothers and sisters’. Citing a number of instances of rape by men from groups allied to the RSS they point out that Mr Modi did not condemn the rapists or launch an investigation into the right-wing Hindu organisations which support them.

Finally they urge the Prime Minister to make his position clear: ‘ Do you approve of the hate crimes, patriarchal violence and misogyny perpetrated by the RSS and its affiliated organisations? If not, we urge you to openly condemn these organisations’.

for further information contact Freedom Without Fear Platform



Letter from South Asian Black and Minority Ethnic Women’s Groups and Academics in the UK to Narendra Modi

Panchavati, 7 Race Course Road, New Delhi

Dear Prime Minister Modi,

Recently, you, along with top ministers of your cabinet, reported to an unconstitutional authority, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who have called you to account for your actions. http://thewire.in/2015/09/04/indias-prime-minister-should-be-careful-about-the-company-he-keeps-9976/

As women concerned with combating violence against South Asian, Black and Minority Ethnic women and girls, we find this extremely disturbing because the RSS is a paramilitary organisation modelled on the Italian Fascist and German Nazi parties  and is known, along with its allied groups, for its violent misogyny openly displayed in the pronouncements of its leaders. http://www.ibtimes.com/hindu-nationalists-historical-links-nazism-fascism-214222

RSS Chief, Mohan Bhagwat, for example, declared in 2013 that rape happens only to westernised women. http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/rapes-occur-in-india-not-bharat-says-rss-chief-mohan-bhagwat-509401

Revered RSS ideologue V.D. Savarkar exhorted Hindu men to prove their masculinity by raping non-Hindu women, who are seen as ‘symbols’ of the ‘enemy culture’. The public condemnation of this aspect of Savarkar’s ideology by you is, we feel, particularly important, because it was under your watch as Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002, that this ‘theory’ was put into practice with countless Muslim women raped, mutilated and murdered. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/india/India0402-03.htm#P527_94439

Few of those responsible for the rapes and murders during the pogrom have been brought to justice. http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/only-the-pawns-have-been-jailed-say-victims/article3845273.ece

Babu Bajrangi, a leader of the Bajrang Dal, sister organisation of the RSS, was caught on camera, in 2007, boasting of the rapes and murders he had committed in Gujarat in 2002 and recounting how he attacked nine month pregnant Kauser Bano. Her belly was torn open and her foetus wrenched out, held aloft on the tip of a sword, then dashed to the ground and flung into a fire. Bajrangi has been charged for these terrible crimes but he is continually out on bail and like many others who were involved in the rapes and murders during the 2002 pogrom, he is effectively free.

Equally worrying is the fact that your own cabinet includes a number of ministers against whom criminal cases, including rape, are pending (Sanjeev Baliyan the Minister of Agriculture is one example). We urge you to dismiss these men and also dismiss your advisor, Amit Shah (an RSS cadre and President of your party the BJP) who directly incited rape during your election campaign in April 2014 calling on Hindus to ‘take revenge’ on ‘those who have been ill treating our mothers and sisters’ . http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/Vote-for-BJP-if-you-want-revenge-Amit-Shah-at-Muzaffarnagar/articleshow/33275312.cms

After the brutal rape and murder of two young oppressed caste women in Uttar Pradesh in 2014 you did not condemn the culture where such rapes and murders of Dalit and oppressed caste women are commonplace or do anything to prevent such brutality taking place again. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Narendra-Modi-pained-by-Badaun-rape-techie-killing-in-Pune/articleshow/

Instead you declared that ‘honouring women and protecting them should be the top-most priority of the government’ despite the fact that such concepts of ‘honour’ and ‘protection’ are routinely used to justify violence against women.

These organisations are also responsible for vicious ‘moral policing’ which has   led to murderous attacks on couples who cross religious and caste boundaries. Your silence sends them a message of approval. http://indianexpress.com/article/india/five-episodes-of-moral-policing-that-made-national-headlines/

A number of laws directly contribute to gender violence, for example, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act which allow the police and armed forces to perpetrate horrific sexual violence (effectively with impunity) in Kashmir and the North Eastern states of India http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/dont-allow-armymen-to-take-cover-under-afspa-says-verma/article4337125.ece  ; the law which permits marital rape; and the homophobic section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalises LGBT people. But despite popular campaigns against these laws you have chosen to retain them. What does this say about your attitude to gender violence

We would also like to point out that the overseas wing of the RSS is currently being investigated by the British Charity Commission for hate speech against Christians and Muslims https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-charity-investigations-global-aid-trust-and-hindu-swayamsevak-sangh-uk

Surely these are not organisations by which a Prime Minister of democratic and secular India should be guided, or held accountable.

We urge you Prime Minister Modi to make your position clear. Do you approve of the hate crimes, patriarchal violence and misogyny perpetrated by the RSS and its affiliated organisations? If not, we urge you to openly condemn these organisations.


Zlakha Ahmed, Director, Apna Haq, Rotherham

Ila Patel, Director, Asha Projects, London

Shaminder Ubhi, Director, Ashiana Network, London

Sarbjit Ganger, Director, Asian Women’s Resource Centre, London

Mwenya Chimba , Director, Black Association of Women Step Out, Cardiff

Anjona Roy, Director, Dostiyo, Northampton

Camille Kumar, on behalf of Freedom Without Fear Platform, London

Firoza Mohmed, Director, Humraaz, Blackburn

Marai Larasi, Director, Imkaan

Carolina Gottardo, Director, Latin American Women’s Rights Services, London

Baljit Banga, Director, Newham Asian Women’s Project, London

Priya Chopra, Director, Saheli, Manchester

Pragna Patel, on behalf of Southall Black Sisters

Sanjeevini Dutta, on behalf of Kadam Asian Dance and Music

Dr Camilla Bassi, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Brenna Bhandar, SOAS

Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London

Dr Sukhwant Dhaliwal University of Bedfordshire

Dr Meena Dhanda, University of Wolverhampton

Dr Aisha Gill, University of Roehampton

Dr Marsha Henry, London School of Economics

Dr Rubina Jasani, University of Manchester

Dr Nisha Kapoor, University of York

Dr Sneha Krishnan, University of Oxford

Dr Sumi Madhok, London School of Economics

Dr Sarita Malik, Brunel University

Dr Suryia Nayak, University of Salford

Dr Goldie Osuri, University of Warwick

Dr Navtej Purewal, SOAS

Professor Shirin Rai, University of Warwick,

Dr Anandi Ramamurthy, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Parvathi Raman, SOAS

Dr Ravi Thiara, University of Warwick

Dr Rashmi Varma, University of Warwick

Dr Kalpana Wilson, London School of Economics

Dr Surinder Guru, lecturer, University of Birmingham




‘Candles in the Wind’ Film Screening and Q & A with Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl

South Asia Solidarity Group and Decolonising our Minds society  invite you to the

Film screening of the award-winning

Candle in the Wind

Karamjeet Kaur, Moga, Punjab


‘Candles in the Wind’

(India 2014 52 min)


Followed by Q& A with the directors

 Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl


7.00pm Thursday 28 May

(doors open at 6.30pm)

Room V111, SOAS Vernon Square Campus,

Vernon Square, Penton Rise, WC1X 9EW

(nearest tube: King’s Cross)

Punjab is known globally as the success-story of India’s Green Revolution. Popular cinema from Bollywood keeps this carefully cultivated image alive. This image is a mirage.

Behind the smokescreen of an idyllic Punjab, there is real smoke, from the smouldering pyres of the farmers who are driven to suicide by the debt burden due to high costs of seeds, fertilisers and pesticides set by the almighty corporations in collusion with the State.

With suicides of men spiralling, women are left to bear the burden of their debt, and the responsibilities of taking care of children, ageing parents and the carcinogenic chemically damaged fields.

‘Candles in the Wind’ witnesses the silent determination of these women to survive and struggle against the politics of domination. The film provides a unique insight into the effects of neoliberal globalisation on rural India and the socioeconomic flux which has accompanied it.

Awards: Special Mention, 61st National Film Awards / India; John Abraham National Film Award for Best Documentary / SiGNS Film Festival / Kerala / 2014; Special Mention / IDSFFK / Trivandrum / 2014; Official Selection: Indian Panorama-2014, IFFI-Goa.

Watch the trailer for Candles in the Wind: http://youtu.be/S__AsI0VKSc

Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl are independent filmmakers and media trainers.

They received the National Award for Best Investigative Film at the National Film Awards (2011), for the film ‘Cotton for my shroud’. It was screened as ‘Headline Film’ at the World Investigative Film Week at London in 2013.

Almost two decades into filmmaking, they work in the genres of documentary and poetry films. Their oeuvre spans the domains of ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights.

Their most recent film ‘I cannot give you my Forest’ has been awarded the ‘Rajat Kamal’ for the Best Film in Environment, including Agriculture at the National Film Awards (For 2014).




Delhi Police Files Charge-sheet Against AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan and AISA, RYA Activists for Anti-Rape Protests Post Dec 16

The Delhi Police has informed activists of AISA, RYA and AIPWA, including AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan, AISA activists Anmol Rattan of DU and Om Prasad of JNU, and RYA activist Aslam Khan that a charge-sheet has been filed against them for their participation in a protest on December 19th 2012 against the December 16th rape, at Sheila Dixit’s house.

 This protest action had been one of the key protests that galvanized more protests all over Delhi and the country. At this protest, the Delhi Police had used water cannons for the first time against the anti-rape protesters. Also, a speech made by AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan at that protest, went viral with thousands of people across the country feeling that it reflected their own sentiments. 57,615 people till date viewed the YouTube video of the speech, that asserted women’s right to be “adventurous”, rejected curbs on women’s freedom in the name of “protection”, and demanded that Governments protect women’s right to “fearless freedom.” The speech had been spontaneously translated into many Indian languages as well as English, and shared. In many ways, that protest, and the speech made at that protest, came to symbolize, for people in India and all over the world, the spirit of the anti-rape protests in Delhi.

Police brutality, high-handedness and harassment against protesters were notorious at the time – even the Justice Verma Committee commented on it.

It is highly unlikely that leading December 2012 anti-rape protesters would have been charge-sheeted by the Delhi Police more than a year later, without a political green-signal from above. The Delhi Police falls under the Union Home Ministry. Why are the charge-sheets being filed against key AISA organisers in DU and JNU, days before DUSU and JNUSU polls where AISA is a major contender?

The BJP, at that time, had attacked the Congress Govt and the Delhi Police for its brutality to anti-rape protesters. Why, now, is the Delhi Police under the BJP Govt filing charge-sheets against the same protesters now?

Clearly, the Modi regime, like the Manmohan regime before it, holds protesters, especially those who speak of women’s freedom, to be criminals.

Just as the anti-rape protesters anticipated way back in December 2012, ‘protection’ for women from ‘love jehad’ and ‘rape’ has quickly come to mean moral policing and restrictions on freedom. Even as this charge-sheet is filed against people agitating for women’s freedom, Sangeet Som, the BJP MLA who incited mobs in Muzaffarnagar, has again called for a ‘mahapanchayat’ – this time against ‘love jehad’. Leaders of such mahapanchayats are the same khaps that kill daughters and their lovers – in the name of ‘honour.’ Now, in the name of the ‘love jehad’ bogey, they will legitimize harassment of inter-community couples, and justify family/community/khap surveillance on adult women. Recently, the Gujarat police issued posters asking parents to maintain surveillance on their daughters’ mobile phones. For such reactionary and patriarchal politics, the very idea of ‘women’s freedom’ and the freedom of young women and men to love each other without fear is dangerous.

 The AISA, AIPWA and RYA demand that the case against all protesters in the anti-rape agitation of 2012-13, including its own activists, be withdrawn immediately.

The charge-sheeted activists declared, “We and thousands of others will continue to protest and demand the right of women, as well as of every one, including men and women from Dalit, Muslim and other marginalized identities, to be free and adventurous, as we did on December 19th. If this Government and the Delhi Police holds that this a crime deserving our arrest, so be it.”

Meena Tiwari, General Secretary, AIPWA

Sucheta De, President, All India Students’ Association, AISA

Ravi Rai, General Secretary, Revolutionary Youth Association, RYA