INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: ANTI-WAR, ANTI-CAPITALIST MOVEMENT TO EMANCIPATE ALL WORKERS!

by Saswat Pattanayak 
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“Down with the world of property and the power of capital! Away with inequality, lack of rights and the oppression of women – the legacy of the bourgeois world! Forward to the international unity of working women and male workers.” (Alexandra Kollontai)

The radical roots of International Women’s Day are being systematically suppressed via liberal appeals for male virtues to prevail upon a patriarchy. Revolutionary struggles waged by the women and men to challenge feudal and capitalistic orders are being overshadowed by reformist emotions dramatized in commercials targeting women as a burgeoning consumer class. Incessant demands for emancipation of the working class under the banner of International Women’s Day (IWD) are being discarded in favor of trickling down of legislative charities.

When in 1917, the IWD was first observed in Leningrad, women workers of Petrograd had organized a mass of 50,000, comprising their fellow male comrades in demanding for “bread, peace and land” and to end the imperialistic world war. They confronted the Tsarist military exceeding 180,000 troops, and refused to disperse. Not only that, the organizing women proved to be so exemplary in their resistance, that the Russian Army had to turn mutinous and the first International Women’s Day resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II, the end of Romanov dynasty and the end of Russian Empire.

Alexandra Kollontai

Alexandra Kollontai

Alexandra Kollontai, who spearheaded the movement to establish March 8th as the International Women’s Day, had declared it as a “militant celebration, a day of international solidarity, and a day for reviewing the strength and organization of proletarian women.”

Far from being a day for reviewing the strength of working class, March 8th today has been rendered as merely a day for symbolic overtures. Far from a celebration of solidarity across working women, it has become a day to cheer for the women celebrities bossing over structural inequalities. Defeat of the very corporate culture which cemented the women’s day has today usurped the principles and made the anti-capitalist day into an event of consumerist fanfare.

March as the Women’s History Month:

With much of the capitalist world failing to officially regard March 8 as the International Women’s Day, considering its communistic roots, they have however acknowledged the month of March as one to acknowledge the role of women in nation-building. Women’s History Month is now celebrated in the US, UK and Australia among a few other countries. Just as they have succeeded in obliterating the significance of May Day by not celebrating it officially because of its communistic history, they have also managed to avoid IWD as an occasion to duly observe. Instead of celebrating the working class struggles against the imperialistic power structures, Women’s History Month has become a marketing opportunity to further reinforce capitalistic ethos. Instead of celebrating the mass movements and unsung protesters, the Month is instead being used as a way to iconize individuals, bereft of their political contexts.

This March 8 should serve as a reminder that despite the collapse of Soviet Union and despite the lack of global initiatives to bring the women’s rights struggles to the political forefront, the principles guiding the International Women’s Day remain as relevant as ever. IWD is an anti-war, pro-working class global movement that aims to emancipate all women and men. On the March 8th of 1970, the Berkeley Women’s Liberation Front outlined the heroism of Vietnamese Women while answering “What does the Vietnamese War have to do with women’s liberation?” In the words of these radical American feminists: “Everything! Women in the movement here are talking about the essential right of people to live full and meaningful lives, demanding an end to the way women, throughout history, have been objectified and dehumanized. How then can we not recognize these same claims that are being made not only by the oppressed in our own country, but by those who are oppressed by this country abroad?”

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The very heroic struggles of Vietnamese women which once informed the revolutionary potential of women in the US are at the core of the IWD history. Although the IWD was celebrated only in the communist countries, it had its roots in American labor history, and this is something the American ruling class conveniently overlooks. After all, it was on March 8, 1911 that the American working women had gathered to commemorate this occasion for the first time, even as it was never granted an official status in the US. And even during the anticommunist era, American women gathered again to celebrate the IWD in 1969 in the city of Berkeley. In subsequent years the day was to be commemorated across institutes in the US, despite official disapprovals. The popularity of IWD grew so much that to evade further embarrassment, Jimmy Carter had to proclaim the week of the March 8th as the “National Women’s History Week” in 1980. Under the Reagan Administration, this History Week was to be formalized and finally celebrated, starting 1982. Five years hence, in 1987, Ronald Reagan would finally expand the History Week to a month, upon the insistence of “National Women’s History Project” (NWHP). Through 1988 to 1994, several legislations ensured that Women’s History Month would be formalized and it has been so since 1995.

This series of reluctant observations on part of American administrations also corresponds directly with the half-hearted approaches towards addressing issues of women’s rights in this country. Struggles for equal pay across sexes, maternity leaves, freedom from racial discriminations, wealth disparities across classes continue to define oppression of women in the United States, and pretty much rest of the world. Without any alternative economic model of women’s empowerment in this vastly unipolar world, capitalistic values continue to impose themselves on people everywhere. It has become almost impossible to break away from the chains of slavery gifted to us by capitalistic greed and mindless competitions which have systemically left behind the traditionally oppressed people, most significantly, the women of color and the disabled women.

If history teaches us any lessons, then the International Women’s Day teaches us a few: that, women will not be emancipated anywhere without women’s liberation everywhere; that, without the recognition of the ways race, class, gender and other social locations intersect, there is no way to bring the historically oppressed women to the same platform that has been achieved by the privileged women; that, the radical history of working women’s movements to liberate women and men must not be diminished by those eager to erase the history of struggles and replace them with history of charities. That, the month of March, the week of March 8th and the Day of the International Women instruct us this: the working women (and, men) of the world must unite in cause, because they have nothing to lose. And, everything to gain.

(Written for Women’s Rights NY Blog and published first on MARCH 8, 2014)

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Narendra Modi: The issue is human rights of his wife

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

What would be the response of Election Commission to allegation of Congress against Narendra Modi in matter of his affidavit on his marital status is a politico-administrative action to watch.

But on the basis of confession of Mr. Modi that he has married and abandoned his wife after two months of marriage, the issue is human rights of his wife.

Conjugal rights of a married person is a vital part of his/her human rights. Mrs. Modi’s conjugal rights are totally violated as Modi has abandoned her after two months of marriage.

For violation of human rights of any member of human society, the society has always insisted upon action against contravener of human rights and the Human Rights Commission has also taken action.

Therefore, the BJP’s assertion that marriage being a personal matter of Modi, the nation has nothing to worry, is not tenable.

It is a fit case for National Human Rights Commission to initiate action against Modi on the basis of his confession in the public that after two months of marriage he has abandoned his wife, such abandonment having shattered Mrs.Modi’s human rights as a married woman.

Higher Judiciary should quash the Delhi ADJ order on pre-marital sex

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Notion of judiciary is that consensual sex is no rape and so, an Additional Sessions Judge (ADJ) of Delhi has acquitted a person of charges of rape, as to him, “when a grown up, educated and office-going woman subjects herself to sexual intercourse with a friend or colleague on the letter’s promise that he would marry her, she does so at her own peril”.

Higher Judiciary should immediately intervene and quash it, because it is absolutely an anti-women judgment, supprtive of the treachery of man, over and above being vitiated with the venom of reliance on religion, inasmuch as the verdict underlines, “She must understand that she is engaging in an act which not only is immoral but also against the tenets of every religion”.

In other words, in the name of religion, the ADJ has said, that a male is above the laws despite having used the body of a female as a vehicle of his passion in an environment where the word ‘marriage’ has not got the seal of approval of religious society.

This is bad; and needs be rejected.

The case is that an orphan young nubile was proposed by a young unmarried man through chats online in 2006 and the young woman eventually had accepted the proposal. They got into a relationship that can be defined as ‘mutual marriage’. The said man used to have physical relationship with her in that environment of mutual marriage. When the mutual marriage should have been led into a socially recognized relationship, the young man abandoned her. On being abandoned by the male partner, she had interpreted her predicament as use of her body by the man on deliberate false promise of making the relationship known to the society.

Though in usual parlance, she had termed it ‘rape’, in reality it was not ‘rape’.

The ADJ has taken cognizance of the fact that there was frequent sexual intercourse between the two.

Rape_ a wrong perception

When ‘rape’ can be a sexual encounter for once between a man and a woman, frequent sexual intercourse between the both for years cannot be termed ‘rape’.

Judiciary has a wrong perception in matter of rape so far, which needs to be rectified.

As the ADJ has given us the impression, it was consensual sex between the two, and hence was not ‘rape’ of the woman by the man.

We also say that it was not ‘rape’ of the woman by the man, notwithstanding the term used by the abandoned woman in deja vu.

But, then what was it? Had the ADJ pondered over this, in interest of justice, it should not have been difficult for him to see that, sexual intercourse between the both was nothing but consummation of mutual marriage, awaiting announcement thereof to the society, which, she being an orphan, the man had promised to do on his family platform. But he did not do.

The Offense is yet to be seen

A male partner making a breech of mutual marriage is an offense; because no marriage can be unilaterally terminated. Sadly, in the case, the ADJ could not see this offense before delivering the verdict.

Personal perception cannot be judicial

I am afraid, the ADJ has not freed himself from his personal prejudices in matter of sex and marriage while hearing the case of the victim. I say so, because he says, “In my opinion, every act of sexual intercourse between two adults on the assurance or promise of marriage does not become rape, if the assurance or promise is not fulfilled later on by the boy”.

This perception of a judge may be a personal perception. But, if justice is to be done, in such peculiar cases, a judge should rise above personal perceptions and read the reality before arriving at a decision.

In this particular case, despite the word ‘rape’ used by the victim under shrouds of the wrongly used terminology, specifically in absence of a judicially determined definition of frequent sexual intercourse between two male and female adults before announcing their marriage on social platforms, the Court should have termed it as ‘consummation of a mutual marriage awaiting announcement to the society’ and should have given it the legal status the spirit of the victim’s petition really craved.

An affront to a female’s human rights

But the Court has fallen in the trodden track of woman bashing and acquitted the man that has unilaterally terminated the mutual marriage consummated through years long sexual relationship. Therefore, the said verdict is an affront to human rights of the woman and deserves to be rejected by right-thinking society and needs be nullified by the higher judiciary, which should, if and when the case comes to its attention, create a definition of frequent sex before (legal) marriage as ‘an act of consummation of mutual marriage awaiting legal status’.

Will the higher/highest judiciary of the country please rise to the occasion, as such cases are rampant in the country; and come forward to fulfill their social responsibility in this peculiar issue by giving the required legal definition to frequent and years long sexual intercourse before marriage as ‘consummation of sexual rights in a mutual marriage’, instead of terming /accepting the case as a case of mere pre-marital sex?

The issue is serious and the answer should be speaking.

Neither there was, nor there is, any real Freedom of Speech and Expression in Theocratically Backward Orissa:AMOFOI on Free Speech Day

Forty one years ago, on August 2, 1971, the High Court of Orissa had issued a judicial writ to the Government to stop prosecuting a new entrant to Orissa Education Service, B. Ramachandra for criticizing a Government policy in a newspaper, as to the Court, the nature and character of the decision of the Government would improve, only if Government servants are allowed to criticize it.

Ramachandra was facing prosecution for having contravened Rule 6(ii) and Rule 7(i) of Orissa Government Servants Conduct Rules, 1959 that prohibit publication of articles by Government servants criticizing the Government. The High Court, in quashing the prosecution against him, had also declared the said Rules “void”.

It was a day of victory for freedom of speech.

But alas! the Government of Orissa has not yet withdrawn the said two Rules and the Government servants are yet kept suppressed and intimidated in matter of sharing their informed views with the public as a result of which the Government is often taking wrong steps without knowing where its shoes pinch.

Therefore, AMOFOI, the ‘anti-caste marriage and one-child family organization of India, founded by Ramachandra, has resolved to observe August 2 as ‘Free Speech Day’ every year as celebration of the judicial writ and in order to mount pressure on the Government to amend itself in term of the said judicial writ.

Prof. Biswaranjan

This new campaign for free speech was launched on August 2, 2012 at the State Information Center (Jaya Dev Bhawan) Bhubaneswar under Presidentship of Prof. Biswaranjan. He held that every act of suppression of Government servants’ right to expression by using the rigors of Rules is nothing but indication to what extent administration is inflicted with malfunction. Whichever Government knows that it cannot give good governance, prefers to silence its employees by curbing their right to expression through creation and imposition of restrictive laws. Miles to go; yet initiation of observation of the ‘Free Speech Day’ is the best beginning in this regard he said.

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Representative-in-chief of orissamatters.com Subhas Chandra Pattanayak was the guest of honor-cum-chief guest. He lauded AMOFOI for its decision to observe August 2 as Free Speech Day as free speech is the strongest weapon to defeat plutocracy that has taken over India through political treachery.

Chittaranjan Nanda

Advocate Chittaraanjan Nanda, a senior practitioner in Orissa High Court was the guest of honor, who gave an account of evolution of right to information from the right to freedom of speech and observed that the government has erred in not having dropped the restrictive provisions from the Conduct Rules by way of amendment, in view of the 1971 decision of the High Court.

Dr. Shashikant Acharya

Dr. Shashikant Acharya, Ex-Professor in Mechanical Engineering in REC, Rourkela, pointed out how the rational thinking contributes to free speech too. A government that do not discourage people’s mad rush into grip of blind beliefs cannot encourage free speech, he warned.

Dr. Bijayanand Kar

Dr. Bijayanand Kar, retired professor of Philosophy, Utkal University, strongly supported the free-speech-campaign, as to him any restriction on expression is anathema to evolution of society that human beings always dream for.

When John Omprakash, President of AMOFOI had welcomed the seminar, educationist Ms.Swapna Bijayini proposed the vote of thanks.

We place below the key-note address given by Prof. B.Ramachandra CST Voltaire, founder secretary of AMOFOI on whose case the Orissa High Court had issued the landmark order .

Prof. B.Ramachandra CST Voltaire

Lord Jagannath of Puri with his clones and other deities in each and every village of Orissa are being used to perpetuate caste system and social exploitation in the name of religion and thus a great obstacle to free thinking and free expression, despite advancement in technological modernity. Because of this theocratic backwardness, neither there was nor there is freedom of speech and expression in Orissa.

Freedom of speech is the essence of all that the best of thinking minds have prescribed for human society of the world.

Even as Tagore’s famous words in this respect were, “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; where knowledge is free, …….. into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake”, the utilitarian thinker J . S. Mill’s work ‘On Liberty’ says, “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would no more be justified in silencing that one person, than if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind”. When Bertrand Russell said, “Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do, the opinions will suppress you”, Voltaire championed free speech in the following words: “I do not agree a word of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

The High Court of Orissa had issued a writ of this wisdom, in the case of B. Ramachandra, in 1971, by declaring “void” the Rules that restricted freedom of expression of government servants; but sad, the governments that have ruled over the State since then, have not complied with the High Court order. To campaign for its implementation, the Free Speech Day may lay the foundation.

THE PIPILI SIN: A SCENE FOR ORISSA TO BE ASHAMED OF ITS GOVERNMENT

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Pipili gang-rape victim’s cremation gave birth to such a scene that every genuine Oriya should have liked not to have seen.

Orissa has a government that hijacked the Ambulance the victim’s father was using to take her body for funeral at Ghatikia after receiving the same from SCB Medical College, Cuttack; and, arbitrarily halted the cremation for long 51 hours till it totally decomposed.

Perpetrators of the crime being members/supporters of the ruling party, the police was used to suppress the FIR and the medical system was used to make out a case of snake bite in order to protect the criminals. As media exposed the felony, the minister, who represents the Pipili constituency, had tried to intimidate the reporters. This is why the Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) had to intervene. In its attempt to protect the journalists from the ire of the minister, MUFP involved the general public in expression of solidarity with the media persons of Pipili. This eventually gave birth to Orissa Gana Samaja (OGS), where political parties thought it prudent to unite sans their flags in demanding justice for the victim of the gang rape.

The government, then, had no other way than taking the victim to its own care and providing free advanced treatment at SCB Medical College, Cuttack.

Therefore, since the day her charge was taken over by the government, she was, alive or dead, absolutely official. It was the responsibility of the government to treat her dead body officially. The government should have decided where and how to cremate her and in that, only accommodated her family members in witnessing the cremation and performing the rituals. So, instead of handing over the body to her family, the Medical College should have handed it over to the government. Government did not take over the body from the Medical College. As result of this, the father of the child had taken over the corpse for cremation.

It is shocking that, thereafter, when the corpse, as received from the Hospital, was being carried for cremation in an ambulance, the police planted its men in the same Ambulance, who, at Rasulgarh, threw out the family members accompanying the corpse and instead of allowing the Ambulance proceed for Ghatikia as desired by the father of the victim for her cremation in presence of relations present in that village, forced its driver to proceed towards Puri. As hundreds of onlookers at Rasulgarh watched it, they tried to foil the carjack by the police itself; but they were subjected to brutal beating by a police force summoned to the spot. It was incumbent upon the government to cremate the body of the victim with due dignity; but it failed. This shows how irresponsible, incompetent and confused the government is.

The irresponsibility, incompetency and confusion of the government is squarely established by the very fact that the dead body of the Dalit girl could not be given obituary respect in her own village as her family was not allowed by the caste hindus, the collaborators of the rapists and the mafia ruling the roost there to perform her last rites, even in presence of the police and the magistrates and the men who matter in administration.

Nothing can be more shameful for the people of the State than the fact that, the State could not dare to ensure cremation of the victimized child by her family members in terms of its tradition in their own village, because, failure of administration to keep under leash the hounds that tortured her to death, was too alarming for them to perform the last rites in their place of birth.

That, the government failed to have the cremation in the birthplace of Babina, the victim, has established that law is not working in Pipili and administration has no control over the area.

It has become a free land for fellows in or close to power to rape any girl of the locality, to attempt to murder her post-rape, to use police and medical officers to arrange death of the victim in medical environment so that the curpus delicti would be of no active witness utility, to keep the family of the victim under constant alarming intimidation so as to deter it from taking appropriate legal action, to purchase the silence of the victim’s relations through posthumous release of massive amount of money from the state exchequer in the style of the ruling chief minister’s help, to use a section of obliging media and village touts and vested-interest politicians to demoralize the civil-society activists through cultivated insinuations even while managing the prosecution to weaken the case by eliminating/ignoring material evidences.

Every Oriya should feel ashamed of having such a chief minister, such a government, such a network of crime and such a situation.

IS THERE ANY GODMAN WHO IS NOT A DEVIL?

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Swami Nityananda, a self-styled Godman, a swindler and a sex-offender in the eyes of prosecution, enlarged on bail last year in trial for crimes including rape, is hiding when the Karnataka Police is chasing after him on recent orders of the Chief Minister to take him into custody on fresh allegation of crime and after his pet goons assaulted the reporters querying about his alleged refusal to accept court summons on charges of sexual abuse raised newly by one of his victims, a woman belonging to USA.

The criminals are using bails as their freedom to commit further crimes as the courts are not binding them to prove themselves innocent within a stipulated period. By wrongful interpretation of bail, the courts are helping criminals to hoodwink the law and to stay free to play further havoc upon the society.

It is absolutely wrong to assume that everybody is innocent until proved guilty. Judiciary from bottom to top is addicted to this wrong. Therefore, the criminals are misusing bails to their own advantage.

It is not that the bail granting judge considers the accused not guilty.

The cognizance of the case against the accused is by itself indicative of acceptance of the alleged offense as true until proved otherwise.

So, the accused, granted bail, is an offender until proved innocent.

In other words, the judge holds the accused prima facie guilty; but honoring human rights, grants him time to prove himself not guilty.

This is the concept of bail.

Therefore, every bail needs be time-bound with stipulation that the accused must prove his/her innocence within the period of bail, failing which the court should simply pronounce the punishment, provided for the offense under the penal codes.

But judiciary is not doing it. As a result of which, judges are continuing to make farce of their power to grant bails; crimes are spreading and criminals are not being properly punished and the society is not being free from the grips of the offenders, the shrewd Sri Sris, the avaricious Babas, the spiritual looking mafias, the Gurus and the Godmen.

Had the so-called Godman Nityananda not been enlarged on bail or had his bail been time-bound and had he been required to prove his innocence within the boundary of that time, he might have already been punished for the crimes he is charged with or the cause of seeing in him a menace might have been removed.

But going through the Nityananda episode one does not feel like seeing something exceptional in the self-styled Godman.

In the country of the Sathya Sais, of Jayendra Saraswatis, of Chandraswamies, of Krupalus, of Thakurs, of Dadas, of Didis, of Dhirendra Brahmacharies, of Nirmal Babas and the likes, who of the so-called Godmen is not a devil?

Fanatical Face of Pipili: Rape is Our Prerogative; Action Against That is Not Yours

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Orissa Gana Samaj that stresses on CBI inquiry into Pipili gang-rape, is facing police action, as the local police station – ill-famed for having given protection to the rapists – has entertained a FIR against its leaders, alleging, because of them, the rape having attracted national attention, face of Pipili has been blackened.

Pipili Assembly Constituency is in strong grip of ruling party BJD. No official here is expected to act independent of BJD influence.

Here, in the village Arjungoda, on 29 November 2011, a Dalit girl was found lying like a dead body in a paddy field abandoned by perpetrators of gang-rape who had tried to murder her after raping, as her living was dangerous to them, she being the only eye witness to a 2008 rape-cum-murder they had committed; and, assuming that she was dead, they had left her motionless body to be eaten away by scavengers.

But a villager stumbled upon the poor child in that pathetic condition and notified her family.

The shocked family took her to Pipili Hospital for immediate medical intervention and informed the police. None of them came to her rescue.

The girl was then taken to the Capital Hospital at Bhubaneswar, which not only blatantly neglected her, but also to eliminate the angle of rape, probably under political pressure, tried to make out a case of snake bite.

The girl, due to willful wrong treatment, went from senselessness to coma and her reference even to the SCB Medical College failed to fetch any proper medical attention; as if revival of her sense was not in the agenda of the government doctors.

She was discharged from the medical college without any medico-legal investigation even though her family had apprised the medical officer of the gang-rape and attempted murder.

As she was thus left without medical care, in the lap of slow death, in a condition of no attention from the State as police was not taking cognizance of rape and attempted murder, the local media took up the matter.

Surprisingly, the loudmouth bigwig of BJD, Minister (as he then was) Pradip Maharathi, representing Pipili in the Assembly, till then silent, woke up to intimidate the Press for reports of the rape!

The minister’s such unexpected attack on the media made the watchdog of journalistic interest, the Media Unity for Freedom of Press (MUFP) take up the issue and eventually, under its initiative, for the first time in the post-independence history of Orissa, politicians sans their party flags got united with the civil society against the government’s design to suppress this felony, which gave birth to the Orissa Gana Samaj (OGS), with representatives of MUFP – Prasanta Patnaik and Rabi Das – as its joint conveners.

The loudmouth minister had to resign from the cabinet; the Government had to readmit the victim in the medical college afresh and to arrange for her treatment under inspection and instructions from super-specialists and medical scientists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; and other official organs had to get activated. The Home department had to initiate action against the police inspector who had protected the rapists and the alleged rapists were arrested, notwithstanding howsoever farcical that was.

Had the OGS not taken up the matter, the victim could never have got government attention and the possibility of prosecution against the rapists could never even have developed.

So, the ruling party, its loudmouth leader who was forced to resign in the gang-rape context, its local hoodlums to which segment the alleged rapists belong, are acrimoniously angry upon the OGS.

Now as a FIR has been filed against the representatives of OGS by a man who claims that by exposing the gang-rape, they have embarrassed Pipili in the eyes of the nation, one is inclined to accept that there are elements in Pipili to whom raping a woman is not a crime against the land, but exposing the crime is a crime. This throws light on the liking of the party that rules over Orissa, specifically when such a mischievous FIR has been entertained by the police.

Prasanta Patnaik, Convener of OGS, has demanded that the matter in its entirety be handed over to CBI for an in-depth investigation, as the State Police seems to be in habitual nexus with the criminals.