Socialist Worker

Millions of women line the streets in mass protest over sexism in India

Issue No. 2636

Millions of women lined National Highway 66 in Kerala state

Millions of women lined National Highway 66 in Kerala state


Women in India took part in mass protests against sexism last week—and on Tuesday tens of millions of workers began a two-day general strike.

Both will undermine the right wing BJP-led government of Narendra Modi.

According to Indian media between 3.5 million and five million women lined up on National Highway 66, which runs along the country’s western coast.

The “wall” last stretched to cover most of the 385 miles.

The demonstration was designed to raise demands for women’s equality.

Religious

It was also to protest against a religious ban that prevented women of menstruating age from entering one of the country’s Hindu temples.

Religious leaders had ignored a Supreme Court ruling in favour of their entry last year.

Protester Kavita Das said, “This is a great way of saying how powerful women are, and how we can empower ourselves and help each other.

“Of course, I support the move to allow women of all ages into the temple.

“I don’t think tradition or any kind of backwardness should stop women.”

The event was organised by the Left Democratic Front, a coalition of political parties in Kerala state.

The demonstration was funded by several independent women’s organisations and by political parties in Kerala.

It came after a growing wave of protests by women against rape, abuse and unequal legal rights.

The day after the “gender wall” demonstration, two women managed to visit the shrine early in the morning under police protection.

They were denounced by Kerala state leaders of the BJP and the Congress Party.

The next day right wing groups, with the RSS fascists at the centre of them, declared a hartal—an attempt to close shops and stop work.

Violence

They tried to enforce it by violence but were largely unsuccessful.

In contrast tens of millions of workers joined a 48-hour strike on Tuesday against Modi’s neoliberal government.

It is called by ten major trade unions and many other small ones.

Early reports suggested the strike had been effective in Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal, Manipur, Bihar, Rajasthan, Goa, Punjab, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Haryana.

It involved groups of dock workers, domestic workers, miners, public sector workers, railway workers, power workers and bank workers.

And in some areas transport workers and auto-rickshaw drivers joined the walkout.

It had been prepared for months by the union leaders.

It is primarily about putting on pressure ahead of the general election that is set to take place in April and May this year.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.