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Life Beyond The Spotlights

A sample of women who have quietly built up the movement

Life Beyond The Spotlights
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K. AJITHA

She shot into the limelight in the late 1960s as a high-profile member of the Naxalite movement in Kerala. She was part of the group that stormed the Pulpalli police station in Wayanad in north Kerala, resulting in the death of two policemen. Captured, tried and incarcerated, she emerged traumatised and disillusioned and thereafter settled for a life of domesticity looking after her two children and penning her autobiography. In recent years, Ajitha has re-emerged as a fiery crusader for women's rights. She heads the Anweshi Women's Counselling Centre, which was instrumental in exposing the Koshikode sex racket involving leading politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen.

KAVITA SRIVASTAVA

If politicians in Rajasthan have a bug-bear, it is this 34-year-old women's rights activist who first shot into prominence with the Bhanwari Devi rape case. She helped bring the sathin, gang-raped by five men, into the national consciousness. Although Bhanwari lost her case in the lower courts, Kavita took it to the High Court. More recently, she was at the forefront of the campaign to bring the guilty to book in the Jaipur hostel rape case, the Alwar sex scandal and the Jain muni rape case, all of which have political overtones and threaten to snowball into election issues. Described by friends as low-profile, she is nonetheless quick to join issue with chauvinistic politicians of all hues.

ROSAMMA

This 42-year-old housewife spearheaded the anti-arrrack movement from the coastal hamlet of Dubagunta in Andhra Pradesh's Nellore district in 1992. The campaign spread like wildfire until it engulfed the entire state. N.T. Rama Rao travelled to Nellore and, taking on board the demands raised by Rosamma, bounced back with a brute majority in the 1994 assembly elections on an anti-arrack plank. The movement started by her has been carried on by CPI(ML) activist Sandhya and Maladi Subbamma and has now acquired an organisation.

NEIDONUO ANGAMI

President of the Naga Mother's Association (NMA), one of the most powerful Church groups in the Northeast, she has been working against drug addiction and rampant alcoholism besides doing her bit for the peace process in the region. The NMA was floated in the late 1980s out of concern for the Naga youth waging a losing battle against the multiple scourges of drugs, AIDS, insurgency and alcoholism. In 1989, the NMA associated itself with the Mumbai-based Kripa Foundation and stepped up its activities. And to think it all started with a group of mothers concerned about their children.

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