Indian farmers celebrate Women’s Day at protests
New Delhi, Mar 8 (efe-epa).- Thousands of women farmers on Monday joined the massive protests against agrarian reforms taking place on the outskirts of Delhi to mark the International Women’s Day, assuming leadership of the more than three-month old struggle for the day.
Around 20,000 women from the agricultural states of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh arrived at the protest sites near the capital in trucks, buses and tractors to take center-stage at the sit-ins, according to organizers.
Thus they took on the mantle from their husbands and sons who have been protesting three farm laws since Nov. 26 by blocking multiple access points to New Delhi, even as women take complete charge of farm work back in their villages.
These protests, which completed 100 days on Saturday, have been demanding the revocation of the laws that allow companies to directly negotiate crop prices with the peasants, reducing the role of government-regulated markets.
According to the farmers, this would skew the sector in the favor of corporates and jeopardize the government’s guaranteed minimum purchase price to 22 crops, although the authorities has denied this.
“All the farm laws should be removed and taken back by the government, they have to give guarantee of the minimum support price, as women we stand with farmers,” said Babli Singh, who had come to the protests from Hapur, Uttar Pradesh.
Peasant women, most of them unable to complete their formal education, represent the major part of the workforce in the agricultural sector, generally occupying the lowest and most exploited position as daily wage laborers.
According to official data, around 75 percent of working women in rural India work in agriculture.
On the other hand, data from the 2011 general census reveals that employment is extremely low among women, with just 25 percent forming part of the workforce in rural areas and 16 percent in cities.
In a deeply conservative society, Indian women still face restrictions on leaving the house and are pressurized into marrying at an early age, often having to give up their education in the middle along with plans to seek a better life in other cities.
However, the country has also witnessed a strong movement for women’s rights in a society where they face widespread discrimination.
The practice of paying dowry to the husband’s family is one of the root causes of a lot of violence against women in the Indian society, such as the infanticide of the unwanted girl child, so-called honor crimes and mistreatment of the wife.
“We have been unable to get ride of this social evil of giving dowry, but at least (now) there are laws” against the practice after years of protests, activist and academician Vibha Maurya said at an event organized jointly by the Spanish Embassy and the Instituto Cervantes in New Delhi.
Another Hispanist and women’s rights advocate, Sonya Gupta, highlighted the importance of using a more just language, as “patriarchy and sexism was maintained through language.”
A report of the National Crime Records Bureau covering 2018 revealed that 7,277 women had been killed during that year over dowry-related issues, which accounted for 94 percent of the 7,747 murders committed against women during that year in India.
The same body reported that in 2017, out of the 33,658 rape complaints filed across the country – averaging nearly 100 per day – 10,221 were by minors under the age of 18. EFE-EPA