‘India brutally persecuting indigenous women with torture, sexual abuse’

New Delhi, Mar 8 (EFE).- India is brutally persecuting its indigenous women for defending their land rights, a new report said Tuesday, as the government plans to increase coal production to one billion tonnes a year in the areas that are home to millions of original inhabitants.

Indigenous rights group Survival International released its “devastating new report” on International Women’s Day to expose how the women were “incarcerated, tortured, and sexually abused” for their fight against a massive corporate and governmental mining rush.

The mining rush, including plans to increase coal production to one billion tonnes a year, is concentrated in six central Indian states, home to 57 million indigenous people who rely on their land for their livelihoods.

“Hundreds of thousands of Adivasi (indigenous) people could be dispossessed if the corporate and governmental mining rush continues unchecked,” the report warned.

The report highlighted the role of such women in resisting the destruction of their land by mining.

“(They) are being beaten, arrested, raped, imprisoned and killed. Their attackers almost always act with impunity,” the report said.

The rights group alleged that government agencies, police, and the security forces were “intimately” involved in the attempts to terrorize indigenous women.

“Draconian anti-terrorism laws are used to silence dissent, and any who resist are falsely labeled as members of the Maoist armed insurgency,” the report said.

It said that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power for his first term in 2014, the number of women charged with “sedition” had nearly trebled.

The report highlighted several women who have become victims of state repression.

It said Hidme Markam, a known indigenous women activist, was bundled into a vehicle and taken into custody at an International Women’s Day event last year. She remains in custody.

Similarly, Kuni Sikka, a Dongria Kondh woman, was targeted for her role in defending her people’s sacred mountain.

She was arrested and paraded in front of local media as a “surrendered insurgent.”

Adivasi activist and leader Soni Sori has been “incarcerated, tortured, sexually abused” and faced barrages of defamation and harassment for galvanizing Adivasi women to resist the violation of their lands, rights, and bodies.

Madkam Hidme, another indigenous woman, was dragged by security forces into the forest in front of her distraught mother.

Police returned her body wrapped in plastic a few days later.

The police claimed she died in a “fierce gun battle” and released a photo of her “in crisply ironed, spotless black overalls with a gun at her side.”

The report said sexual violence by security forces was commonplace in the highly contested areas where indigenous people defend their lands.

Under the Indian constitution, indigenous peoples have the right to their livelihoods and subsistence, protect their lands, manage their affairs, give or withhold their consent for projects on their lands, practice their religions, and determine their futures. EFE


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