Today we decided to showcase a story of inspiration amongst all the pain and suffering of the past week in India.
“I will not give up this battle as long as I am alive“
Soni Sori, is a human rights defender, tribal and women’s rights activist, who works in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. She and her associates have been fighting the violence of the paramilitary forces and the police. They have meticulously recorded State-sponsored atrocities in this remote, inaccessible part of the country against Tribals, including burning down of homes, sexual assault, rape and torture. The security forces have subjected her to inhuman custodial torture.
Soni describes herself as ‘just a small teacher’ from the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, one of India’s most mineral-rich states. But, in reality, she organizes Adivasi (indigenous) women to speak out against the sexual violence and assaults they have endured at the hands of the local police and the central government’s security forces stationed there to fight what the government refers to as ‘leftwing extremism’. She is also the political leader of Aam Aadmi Party in Sameli village of Dantewada in south Bastar.
Soni Sori was among the five recipients of the prestigious Frontline Defenders’ Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk for the year 2018. Soni dedicated the global award to all the social activists fighting on the ground for the rights and legitimate dues of the Bastar Tribals. “I will not give up this battle as long as I am alive,” she said.
The ethnic minorities, the tribal communities in India has been for long been stuck being an outsider, without being included in the decisions about them. While individual cases of rape cases like that of a rape that occurred in Labhpur, Eastern Bengal where the 20 year old victim stated that she was raped by almost a dozen of men in her village as punishment for falling in love with a boy from other community which was unacceptable in her village or when a newly married 20 year old Santhali woman was gang-raped for 10 hours at Pakur village in 2015 have gained attention, there is barely any data or research done to understand the perverseness of the issue.
India prides itself on being inclusive, respectful of all the diversity it is known for, but lately the actions have not matched up to that pride.
This article is in collaboration with #Adivasislivesmatter to bring to light to the fact that even though rape is a national and international problem, some groups’ voices don’t get heard.