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Human rights activists for women's right to do sewa

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Human rights activists for women’s right to do sewa

By Express News Service

Aug 28, 2005, 15:29

Ludhiana, August 27:

THE Ludhiana-based International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) has taken a serious notice of the Damdami Taksal and ex-Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh’s statements that they stand by all jathedars opposed to allowing women the sewa at Harmandar Sahib.

In a statement issued here, IHRO chairman DS Gill and secretary general MS Grewal said, ‘‘The crimes against women are not just gender violence, female infanticide, sexual harassment and the like, but also denial of civil, cultural, religious, legal and economic equality with men.’’

The IHRO has demanded that the Sikh tenet of equality and equal status of women in all aspects be restored in all Gurdwaras, including the Darbar Sahib at Amritsar.

‘‘Women’s access to service (to do sewa) in all fields has been crucial to Sikhism during Guru’s period, whether it was for the preparation of amrit or langar. So they need access to all types of sewa without any gender bias,’’ they asserted.

IHRO has urged SGPC and Akal Takht to restorating the right of Sikh women to sewa, ‘‘which is the foundation stone of human rights and freedoms bestowed upon them by our gurus’’. IHRO has urged SGPC to devise measures and review old rituals or outdated practices to correctly restore the Sikh tenet of sewa for all without any gender discrimination so that the true spirit behind the sikh faith could prevail.

The IHRO has taken a very serious view of the predominance shown by the Damdami Taksal and ex-Jathedar Ranjit Singh that they would not allow centuries’ old traditions to be broken so easily, and too before the proposed Ludhiana Sikh conclave convened by them concludes anything on September 1. ‘‘They have exposed their viewpoint before reaching any consensus at the conclave,’’ said the IHRO activists.

They said that giving woman her rightful place of respect, honour and equality in the Sikh community was one of Guru Nanak’s main concerns. Every Sikh leader has a duty to fight for the rights of women to eradicate gender bias.

IHRO has urged the religious leaders to avoid confrontation on this crucial issue and arrive at a consensus as per teachings of the Guru, to improve the status of women in the panth. Earlier, SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur had advocated that sewa rights should be given to women.

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