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Soni Sori case finds voice at MIT

WRise creates platform for dialogue on gender relations.


Bureau Report

BOSTON: WRise, a women-led group to engage the broader community through reflection and action around gender issues, held its inaugural event in the Right to Be Series at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), on March 3rd.

 WRise holding its inaugural event at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on March 3rd. Photo credid: WRise-Boston and Zainab Lakhani
WRise holding its inaugural event at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on March 3rd. Photo credid: WRise-Boston and Zainab Lakhani

The discussion opened dialogues on issues of custodial rape, state-supported violence against women in geo-politically sensitive areas, and problems of accessing justice through the case of Soni Sori, a tribal woman from Chattisgarh, India.

Shilpi Suneja, a writer in the Boston-area, presented a moving piece juxtaposing how Soni Sori is perceived by the Indian state against her identity as a woman, mother, and survivor of brutality. She addressed the issue of “gallantry,” against the background of “Gallantry Awards” being award by the Indian state to police officials like Ankit Garg, accused of torturing and abusing Soni Sori.

Shwetika Kumar, an electrical engineer, provided a concise yet effective background on the context of the conflict in Chattisgarh, the Naxalite movement in India, the vigilante-group Salwa Judum and the Indian state’s role in the conflict.

Chhavi Goenka, a PhD student at Boston University, spoke about the implementation of the Justice Verma Committee Report, which was submitted on January 23rd to suggest ways to make rape laws stronger in India in response to the gruesome gang rape of a young woman in Delhi on December 16. The event was moderated by Pronita Saxena, active in social justice issues in the Boston area.

Over 60 people, women and men, attended the event, including members of Women Fight Back (WFN), Chelsea Uniting Against the War, the Bolivarian Circle of Boston, and Association for India’s Development (AID). During the latter half of the event, there was a lively discussion and dialogue among attendees about systems of patriarchy, domestic violence, the double standard between media and acceptable conduct for women on the streets in India, and suggestions for future collaborations.

The group invited attendees to seek justice for Soni Sori through the “Take back the President’s Police Medal of Gallantry awarded to Ankit Garg” petition at the venue.

WRise’s discussions are open to the community and held every other Saturday at noon in Cambridge, MA.

The online petition can be found at:

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