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17th & 18th March, Patel Bhavan,  Ranchi.

All India Seminar

Tribal Women in Contemporary India : Their Status and Their Struggles
17th & 18th March, Patel Bhavan,  Ranchi.

 

A Tribal Women from Orissa
Struggling for life
Some tribal women's organizations have come together to form a platform,  "Sangharshrat Adivasi Mahila Manch", to organize a seminar to highlight the  plight and the struggles of tribal women in contemporary India. Though this  has not been in the focus of the media, it is a fact that all over the   country, tribal women are actively struggling against their exploitation. History has been a witness to these militant struggles continuously waged by  tribal women. Though away from the cities and the mainstream women's  movements, the courage and sacrifice of these tribal women are of great  significance to all those who believe in social change. To highlight these  struggles and the circumstances in which they are taking place, a seminar  has been organized in Ranchi. The seminar will be followed by a rally and  public meeting.
 
Struggles against British Colonialism  British Colonialism intensified the exploitation and oppression of tribals in India. Seeing the potential of exploiting the mineral and forest resources of the adivasi dominated areas,  the British made efforts to capture these lands. The reasons for the  miserable plight of tribals were many…their deprivation of forest rights, the entry of landlords and usurers into their areas etc. Tribal women and  men, all over the country raised their traditional weapons and fought  bravely against these forms of exploitation.

The Santhal Rebellion from  1855-56, the Bhumkal Rebellion in Bastar and Birsa Munda's Ulgulan movement  in and around Ranchi are some examples. The role of women in these adivasi  revolts was no less than that of men. They too faced the vicious repression  unleashed by the British to crush these movements. Adivasi men and women  carved their names in blood in the history of the Independence Movement in  India, but what is their condition in today's so-called Independent India?  

The Status of Tribal Women Today tribal women are amongst the poorest, most  marginalized and backward people. Even today they have no rights over the  forest and cultivating forest lands is considered an offence. In spite of  their important contribution in various types of labour, within the tribal  community too, women are oppressed by various traditional male chauvinistic practices.

This patriarchal oppression manifests itself in various ways  among different tribal groups.  Adivasi women are deprived of educational  and health facilities and we find that the rate of literacy in this section  is 14.5 %. Malnutrition is not only rampant among adivasi children but also  among women. Though the government boasts of having welfare schemes and anganwadis, tribal children are dying in thousands due to malnutrition each  year. Hundreds of tribal people die of malaria each year, but the government  tries its best to hide these facts. Tribal women are also victims of incessant sexual violence and abuse by  contractors, government officials and the police. Luring tribal women to  cities with the promise of giving them jobs, criminal gangs are in fact  trafficking women and ruining their lives. The economic policies of the  central and state governments, in keeping with liberalization, privatization  and globalization, have opened the gates for imperialist plunder. It is not  surprising then that imperialist companies and big capitalists are competing  
with each other for projects in tribal areas that lead to their displacement  and environmental degredation.  

In the last year itself, various Indian and foreign, or multinational  corporate houses have been expanding their activities or entered into  agreements with the state governments of Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhatisgadh and  Maharashtra. These are companies like Jindal, Essar, Mittal, Posco, Tata,  Reliance etc. Along with this, in an attempt to divert the adivasis from the  path of struggle, Hindutwa communal organizations are making an all out  effort to saffronise the adivasi community. The "Shabri Kumbh Mela" to be  held in February in the Dangs of Gujarat is one such example. All this ismaking the possibilities of future development for tribals bleaker and the  
plight of women more miserable.  
 
Tribal Women on the Path of Struggle. Tribal women have risen up in struggle  against their exploitation and oppression. They have given the clarion call  to fight the landlords, money-lenders and state machinery of the ruling  classes. They were in the forefront of the Naxalbari and Srikakulam  movements. In the contemporary revolutionary movement in Bihar, Jharkhand,  Andhra Pradesh, Bastar, Chhatisgadh, Orissa and Gadchiroli and Gondia of  Maharashtra, they have built up a huge women's movement. In Northeast India,  where nationality movements are going on, tribal women in places like  Manipur and Nagaland have active women's organizations. In the Narmada  Valley, Kashipur and Kalinganagar, they have agitated against imperialist  backed development projects. By trying to crush these movements with intense  and brutal repression, the state has made clear its anti-tribal stand. The  inhuman police firing at Kalinganagar, Jajpur, Orissa, is a recent example  of this approach.

In spite of arrests, beatings and torture by the police,  in spite of false cases being foisted on them, whether it be TADA or POTA, which have been used against struggling tribal women, they have carried on  fighting courageously. The state continues to try and crush their movements  through campaigns like "Salwa Judum" and "Sendra" where mass rapes and  murders of tribal women are taking place in the name of a state sponsored  "peace campaign." It is crystal clear that the powers that be would rather  kill and crush the tribal communities than work for their development, and  yet, fearless and strong, the struggle of adivasi women goes on and on….  . To bring these struggles of adivasi women into focus, we are holding a  seminar on the related issues. We appeal to all progressive women's  organizations, women activists and intellectuals to participate in this  seminar and help to make it a success.  
 
Sangharshrat Adivasi Mahila Manch
Rose Karketa, President, Reception Committee.
For correspondence: e-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Tel: Arati Kujur: 9835358379, Rose Karketa: 0651-2541681

 

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