... Susie Shah says AAP is all blah, blah. Protestors call State Womens Commission parking spot for failed politicians; chairperson Shah hits back asking what they have done for women's rights
The Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are on a collision course. The AAP protested yesterday afternoon in front of the MSCW headquarters at the MHADA building in Bandra (E). The AAP has upped the ante asking a number of Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to boycott an interaction to be held at the Sahyadri Guest House on Malabar Hill, hosted by the MSWC, today.
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According to the AAP, there are question marks hanging over the process of selection and appointment of MSCW members and the chairperson, Susie Shah. Says AAP, "The State Government had failed to make any appointments since 2009, for a period of five years. It was only after two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were filed and with just a few months left to elections, that the State chose to appoint persons in MSCW in a manner that violates the provisions of the MSCW Act, 1993. "
The AAP has zeroed in on Susie Shah, specifically stating that the State has “disregarded the complaints pending an inquiry into the alleged misconduct and dereliction of duty by Susie Shah.” They have also dug up controversial comments by Dr Asha Mirge (see box) to shore up their arguments against the Commission. AAP slammed Mirge saying, “Shameful statements of board member Mrs Asha Mirge totally demolishes any hope from this Commission, for women expecting treatment as equals.”
Hitting back: Susie Shah retaliates against the AAP
Susie Shah stated that she was not present at her office yesterday when this protest took place as she had no clue that a protest was to take place. “I think there were hardly any persons at this protest. I was away to receive an award at a hotel in Bandra. I do not know what the problem is. "
Vijashri K, AAP’s representative at the protest and part of AAP ki Shakti, the women’s cell of the AAP hit back stating, “We had only 15 persons protesting yesterday because the police told us to keep numbers down, as they were tied up with several protests and marches in the city. It was a peaceful protest and went on for 1.5 hours in the afternoon. We had two victims of harassment joining in the protest though they are not members of the AAP. These victims also spoke to the media that was present there, explaining their case and reasons for being there."
Out, out: Aam Aadmi finding a voice at Bandra (E) yesterday
When asked to be specific about what their problems were with the Commission and whether AAP was becoming a protest party, holding protests and dharnas all over the place, so that it had become a laughing stock, Vijashri reacted strongly.
“We are asking why this body is simply associating with so many NGOs, without looking at the work they are doing. So many NGOs are corrupt and do not function in a proper manner. Is the MSCW looking into this? After the protest outside, we went inside the office and met a couple of board members. One board member, an advocate, did not even know that the Commission was to hold a day-long interaction today on a number of issues. Can you believe it, she, a board member did not know what Susie Shah was doing?”
Susie Shah though, scoffed at the claims stating, “that is not possible. Everybody knows about our program and today, they will all be present at Sahyadri Guest House.” AAP also stated that instead of meeting NGOs, “The Commission must start meeting victims. We want various political appointments in the MSCW to be stopped. By political appointments we mean people like Susie Shah.” Vijashri stated firmly that, “Yes, we will continue to protest and we want an andolan, a revolution in Mahila Ahyog.”
Susie Shah stated, “I am proud to be from a political party. Just because I am from a political party that does not mean I cannot be a social activist, I am also an activist for women’s issues.” A protestor claimed that other board members, explained to them that Shah’s appointment was justified. "Next week, we will be protesting outside the CM’s office, against Shah’s appointment,” she added.
Susie Shah, however, rubbished all claims by protestors claiming there was nothing pending against her and said that the interaction with NGOs would be go ahead today at the Malabar Hill venue. The Mumbai-based chairperson ended by saying that, "Everybody has a right to protest, but instead of simply holding protests, I want to ask them the (AAP) who oppose political appointments what have they done for women’s empowerment.”
Maharashtra Women’s Commission member Dr Asha Mirge said that the Delhi student who was fatally gang-raped on a moving bus should not have been out late at night watching a movie. The photographer gang-raped while shooting a deserted mill in the heart of Mumbai placed herself in danger by visiting the area at 6 pm. “Girls should be careful about what they wear. They should mind the time of their moving out. Girls’ body language should not be such that it invites attention of a potential rapist lurking around,” she said. Following her shocking remarks, she apologised for her insensitive comments.
Today’s NGO interaction
The Maharashtra State Commission for Women is holding an NGO Interaction on February 15 2014 at Sahyadri Guest House at Malabar Hill from 9 am to 6pm.
The interaction is divided into 3 sessions:
1. Gender Based Violence (Safety, Security, Role of Police) & Acts (DV, IPC, 498A, Criminal Amendment Act 2013)
2. Declining Sex Ratio. Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act in 2003
3. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013(SHW Act).
The Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Fauzia Khan, Minister of State, Government of Maharashtra and Prof Varsha Gaikwad, Minister, Department of Women & Child Development, are chief guests at the inaugural session. The Commission stated that the need for the consultation has arisen in the context of an increase in reported cases of sexual crimes against women and children as well as the low rate of convictions.