ANANDI’s Rally in Shihor, June 2013

The horrifying gang rape of a young woman, on 16th December, 2012, on a public transport vehicle in Delhi, which led to widespread media and public outrage on the incompetence of existing institutional structures to protect women's rights to bodily integrity and protection from violence, coincided with the formal launch of the project. Mahila Swaraj Manch, the collective of Elected Women Representatives in Shihor block that the ANANDI team works with, wanted to express their solidarity with the women's groups and organisationa who were expressing their outrage and shock, and demanding state accountability for the increasing lack of safety for women, in urban centres. Therefore, they decided to take out a rally, to the block headquarters, as an expression of their solidarity with the global One Billion Rising Campaign against gender-based violence. The participants secured the required permissions to take out the rally and successfully sought the support of local police and government authorities. This rally received widespread coverage in the local media. 1600 signatures were collected in support of the One Billion Rising Campaign, and another 1200 signatures were obtained for a petition to the Government of Gujarat seeking changes to existing legal provisions – for ensuring adequate,effective and timely response to victims of sexual violence. This is a significant step in linking the mandate of elected women representatives, to represent the interests of a women's constituency, with the concerns of the larger feminist movement, at a very tangible level.