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About the Open Letter to the Women of Gujarat.

The idea for the Open Letter, and the initial draft, emerged at "Aarohan 2003," a conference for South Asian women's organizations, which Manavi hosted in August 2003. Participants who were interested in formulating the letter formed a subgroup, and continued to work on the letter after the conference. The letter was released in March 2004 on the second anniversary of the violence.

The Open Letter is available as an online petition at: We encourage you to sign your name to the petition, anonymously or otherwise, and forward the petition to your friends, families, colleagues, and other community members to show solidarity with the women who suffered during the violence and to help raise awareness about the intersection of communal violence and violence against women.

Open Letter to the Women of Gujarat

We, the undersigned organizations and individuals working to end violence against women in the United States, write to express our deep sympathy and support for the women of Gujarat who suffered and continue to suffer due to the state-sponsored communal genocide that took place in February and March of 2002.

We write to convey our heartfelt grief for the scores of women and girls who were murdered and brutally raped, and the thousands of women who were widowed, orphaned or lost other loved ones as a result of the violence. We recognize that the minority Muslim community was the main target of this genocide and that the violence was pre-meditated and perpetrated by mobs of men including members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and the Bajrang Dal. We are outraged at the horrific sexual violence and humiliation women and girls of all ages were subjected to during the attacks. We strongly condemn Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the government of Gujarat for justifying the violence and the Sangh Parivar for its role in the pre-meditated attacks against the minority Muslim community.

The widespread sexual subjugation of Muslim women and girls in Gujarat is a testament to the fact that women's bodies were the battleground on which state-sponsored violence was perpetrated. Women bore the brunt of the violence in Gu jarat just as women bear the brunt of violence every day in their own homes at the hands of family members and loved ones. We also recognize that what happened in Gujarat is not an isolated event and that other communities in different parts of India have suffered as a result of the hateful actions of a few to communalize Indian society.

We recognize that no one is safe in the culture of violence unleashed by the militant Hinduism of the Sangh Parivar, and wish to express our sympathy to the Hindu women who also suffered during the mob attacks. We also want to recognize our solidarity with the so-called lower caste women of all religious backgrounds whose victimization is often silenced. We recognize that violence against women knows no boundaries and takes many forms. Hence, we denounce violence against women everywhere in all its forms including female infanticide including abortion, forced marriage, marital violence, financial and reproductive control, physical and sexual abuse, and murder.

We wish to convey to the women of Gujarat that we have not forgotten them. After the horrific events occurred in 2002, some of us spoke out against the atrocities and community-building movements did occur. However, with this letter, we wish to speak out against the atrocities with one voice. We refuse to be silent any longer and make the following demands of the Indian judicial system:

1. We hold the government of Gujarat accountable for the crimes committed and denounce it for its inaction to end the violence.

2. We demand that those who perpetrated the heinous crimes in Gujarat and those responsible for organizing the genocide be brought to justice.

3. We demand an immediate halt to the revictimization and continued harassment of Muslim women by the Gujarat police and members of the Sangh Parivar.

4. We demand adequate relief and rehabilitation for the more than 100,000 Muslims who were displaced by the violence.

We are aware that many of the groups responsible for orchestrating and perpetrating the violence in Gujarat received and continue to receive funding from the Indian community in the United States. We are concerned that the overseas Indian community donates to these charities believing that the funds will be used for development and humanitarian purposes when in fact they are routinely diverted to finance communal politics. Hence, we strongly urge the NRI community and individuals to ensure their contributions go to worthy charities and not to organizations such as the VHP and RSS, groups which promote an ideology of hate and violent acts against minorities.

We call upon the international community to help us break the silence and join us in solidarity with the women of Gujarat and those around the world working to end communal violence and violence against women. As organizations and individuals working to end violence against women, we pledge to continue to speak out against the atrocities and to make communal harmony an integral part of our work.



AASRA (Boston, MA)

Chaya (Seattle, WA)

Daya (Houston, TX)

Manavi (New Brunswick, NJ)

Narika (Berkeley, CA)

Saheli for Asian Families (Austin, TX)

Sakhi for South Asian Women (NYC, NY)


* Over 500 individuals have signed this letter as of June 2004

* This list reflects organizations that signed the letter as of March 2004
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Publication:Manavi Newsletter
Date:Mar 22, 2004
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