Nobel peace laureates Jody Williams (USA) and Shirin Ebadi (Iran) were in India with the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict to stand in solidarity with women’s rights organisation Breakthrough and other activists at a seminal moment in India’s women’s movement and to call for an end to violence against women.
‘We are here in solidarity with our Indian sisters, to share our own experiences as grassroots and international activists and to learn from the fearless activists on the front lines of India’s women’s movement,’ said Jody Williams, Nobel peace laureate and co-chair of the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict.
This movement gained significant momentum following a series of high profile cases of rape and gender violence, including the 2012 gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a Delhi bus and the rape and hanging of two teenage girls in 2014.
‘The people of India are turning their outrage at these crimes into powerful activism. Right now, students in Jadavpur are protesting sexual violence and police brutality on their campus. All around the country, activists are mobilizing for change like never before,’ said Williams.
Every day, 92 women are raped in India, according to the India’s National Crime Bureau. Rates of rape are at a record high in the Capital, Delhi. And Breakthrough’s recent survey of women in six Indian states reveals that 91 per cent of women and girls in India face sexual harassment in their lifetime.
‘Violence against women is the largest human rights pandemic globally. If we want to create a world where all people can thrive, we must transform the norms that lead to women’s second-class status. And the women Nobel peace laureates are showing us the way,’ said MallikaDutt, President and CEO of Breakthrough.
The laureates are calling on the Indian government to take more decisive steps to end sexual violence in India and internationally-among them, endorsing the G8-backed Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed to tackling violence against women and said India was shamed by sexual violence and gender inequality. Now is the time for India to show leadership by endorsing the Declaration and ending impunity for violence against women,’ said Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi.
‘We echo the calls of Indian activists for broader legal definitions of sexual violence, outlawing all forms of marital rape and ending victim blaming by law enforcement and medical professionals. It’s time to turn words and commitments into action.’
The laureates were a part of a public event, co-hosted by the Campaign and Breakthrough tonight in Delhi, to discuss the movement to end violence against women in India and internationally. Dutt will moderate the conversation, ‘How Women Are Mobilizing to End Violence Against Women and Transform our World’.
Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize with her that year. At that time, she became the 10th woman - and third American woman - in its almost 100-year history to receive the Prize. In 2006, along with Shirin Ebadi, Jody founded the Nobel Women’s Initiative. Shirin Ebadi, JD., was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote human rights, in particular, the rights of women, children, and political prisoners in Iran. As a lawyer, Ebadi has taken on many controversial cases.