Hundreds of women, led by senior leaders of women’s organisations including CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, staged a protest march at Rohtak in Haryana on Monday against the failure of the State government to halt the continuing violence and rape of Dalit women and minors and also the reckless statements made by senior political leaders on issues related to women.

Taking serious exception to the unconstitutional solution by Khap panchayats to deal with rapes, the activists said silence of the government on Khap panchayats was a matter of serious concern.

The panchayats had said lowering of the marriage age could help in containing rapes.

Families of victims, students and rural women from various districts, along with members of more than 25 women's organisations from across the country, gathered at the HUDA Complex where there was a public meeting. They then took out the march to meet District Collector Vikas. A statement on behalf of the organisations said they were not allowed to meet the Collector and police lathi-charged the protesters.

At the public meeting, Ms. Karat condemned the Hooda government for failing to first provide security to women and the police and administration for refusing to lodge FIRs or arrest the accused.

“She also took on the Khaps and INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala and wondered how they could even have suggested a solution of decreasing the age of marriage, which is against the law. Is legitimising rape within marriage a solution she asked? She also said that education and freedom from fear was the right of every girl and we all demand that women’s rights are not curtailed any more,” the statement said.

Ranjana Kumari of the Centre for Social Research, Sudha Sundararaman of AIDWA, Gargi of NFIW, Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad, Jyotsna Chaterjee of Joint Women's programme, Kavita Srivastava of PUCL and Leila Passah of YWCA joined in the condemnation of the government and pledged that till justice was delivered to the victims and safety ensured for women they would not give up the struggle.

Jagmati Sangwan, vice president of AIDWA, who has been spearheading the struggle in the State, placed a resolution against violence on women and it was passed unanimously.