Monthly archives: August 2011

Courts of Women

The AWHRC – a network of women and human rights organization in the Asia Pacific region has integrated the spirit of the Women in Black Movement into one of its major programmes, the Courts of Women.
In the words of Corinne Kumar who is the founder of the AWHRC and the International Coordinator of the Courts of Women “The Courts of Women are an unfolding of a space, an imaginary: a horizon that invites us to think, to feel, to challenge to connect, to dance, to dream. It is an attempt to define a new space for women, and to infuse this space with a new vision, a new politics. It is a gathering of voices and visions of the global south, locating itself in a discourse of dissent: it is in itself a dislocating practice, challenging the new world order of globalisation, crossing lines, breaking new ground: listening to the voices and movements in the margins”
The Courts of Women are public hearings.
They are symbolic spaces; sacred spaces where the voices of women victims of violence, of survivors, of resistors are listened to and through the listening attempt to challenge the universality of the human rights discourse, hegemonic knowledge paradigms that have excluded the visions, wisdoms and experiences of women. The Courts of Women hear of the need to extend the discourse to include the meanings and symbols and perspectives of women.
While the Courts of Women began in Asia and several Courts have been held in the region, Corinne Kumar who is at present the Secretary General of El Taller – an international ngo based in Tunisia has taken the Courts of Women to the other regions of the world – Africa, Arab, Central and Latin America.
Thirty nine Courts have been held so far on different issues and held mostly in the global south; some Courts have been World Courts, some regional and several Country Courts.
There are several events that are held before and after each Court including the Women in Black which is held before the day of the Court.
The following are some of the Courts before which the Women in Black was organized
• Speaking Tree Womenspeak on Crimes against Women Related to the Violence of Development, Bangalore, January 1995
• Daughters of Maat
First World Court of Women on Crimes against Women, Beijing, September, 1995
• Mahakama ya Wamama Wa Afrika, June 1999 Nairobi, Kenya
• The World Court of Women Against War for Peace, Cape Town, South Africa, March, 2001
• The South Asia Court of Women on the Violence of Trafficking and HIV/AIDS, August 2001, Dhaka, Bangladesh
• Daughters of Fire, the India Court of Women on Dowry and Related Forms of Violence was held from July 2009, Bangalore.

At the World Social Forum

Yet another gathering which has been infused with the spirit of Women in Black is the World Social Forum.
The World Social Forum which was created in 2001 is a space for social movements and individuals resisting and in search of alternatives to the process of globalisation and neoliberalism to gather, to share ideas and experiences, to debate and to articulate another vision of a world. Visions that is more rooted in the lifeworlds of those who are at the margins; visions that are more wholistic.
The social movements that gather at the forum come from the global south and north and believe in the dream that another world is possible.
El Taller International, the AWHRC and Vimochana have been part of the WSF and together with other partner organisations have organised several Courts of Women and Women in Black Vigils at the World Social and Polycentric Forums, Africa and the Asia Social Forum.
• At the WSF 2003 held in Porto Allegre, Brazil we held with our partner organisations in Cuba and Latin America the World Court of Women against the Economic Blockade in Cuba.
• At the WSF 2004 held in Mumbai, India we held with our partner organisations the World Court of Women on War as Crime (focussing on US war crimes).
• At the WSF 2005 held again in Brazil we offered with the Africa Social Forum, the Africa Court of Women on Poverty: Lives, Livelihoods, Lifeworlds.
• At the WSF polycentric 2006, we have held the World Court of Women on Resistance to Wars: Wars of Globalisation, Wars against Women in Bamako, Mali, in Caracas, Venezuela and in Karachi, Pakistan.
• In January 2003 the Asian Women’s human Rights Council with Vimochana organised Women in Black Against War for Peace at the Asian Social Forum in Hyderabad.
• In preparation to the World Social Forum 2004 to be held in Mumbai, there were many country specific forums that were held. India too held the India Social Forum in Delhi subsequent to the Asia Social Forum in Hyderabad.
• World Court of Women on Resistance to Wars, Wars of Globalization, Wars against Women, World Social Forum Polycentric, January, 2006 Bamako Mali
• World Court of Women on Resistance to Wars: Wars of Globalisation, Wars against Women, Karachi, Pakistan, 2006. World Social Forum Polycentric, January, 2006
For more information on the vision and perspectives on the Courts of Women and the Courts held so far, WIB vigils held at the Courts of Women and the WSF see