The Forum for Fact-finding Documentation and Advocacy (FFDA) is an Indian human rights monitoring organization founded in 1995 that fights to promote and protects human rights in India by working with the victims of human rights violations and their organizations. It educates the victims and their communities, and facilitates and builds the capacity of the organizations of victims to take their own action collectively. It addresses the issues of displacement and forced eviction, violence against women and children, exploitation, torture, abuse and discrimination against Dalits (untouchable and low caste poor), and attacks on minorities and indigenous communities.
Based on the learning and work experiences, FFDA integrated democracy monitoring into its core activity as the basic path to ensure rights of above said target group; participation in decision making and asking accountability and good governance of the state in particular. It focuses on having a right to:
- Social and political participation
- A sustainable livelihood
- Education, particularly access for girls and tribal children
- Life and security
FFDA investigates, reports on, and campaigns against human rights abuses. Tribal and Dalit people, especially women and children, are its priority. FFDA is led by Subash Chandra Mohapatra.
Aims and Beliefs
FFDA dreams of a humane society where there will be freedom, justice, peace, and inherent dignity of all human person. . In India
, FFDA works with a mission of a just social and humane order by deleting all class and caste
-dominated economic, social, cultural, civil, and political structures. It visualizes that real people will have the means (democratic and in the interests of the poverty stricken people) at all levels as an alternate to so-called Indian society.
FFDA's goals are:
- Promotion, protection, and respect for human rights to ensure the fights against political, institutional, and social oppression in India.
- Promotion and strengthening the people’s organizations and their representative organizations.
- Protection of human rights of deprived communities, especially for indigenous tribes, women, children, Dalits and other victims of human rights violations.
- Human rights institution building.
- Promotion and protection of democracy as the basic part of accountability and transparency of the state.
Some Successes of the FFDA
Prevention of child marriages
Child marriages persist in rural India, although prohibited by Indian legislation since 1929. Such marriages continue to be organised in massive numbers under the patronage of tradition, principally in the poorest of families. Today, 33% of girls in India are married before they reach the age of 15. Another third are already married by eighteen, the legal age limit for marriage. It’s a traditional ritual that affects primarily girls: apart from the fact that they are not physically equipped to give birth, forcing a child between the ages of 11 and 15 to marry condemns her to a life of illiteracy, economic dependency and psychological and physical incapacity.In 2003,FFDA filed a public interest litigation before Supreme Court of India seeking ban on child marriages in India. The appex court directed to enact a new law to prevent.
In 1994 in the Indian state of Orissa
, after a political party rally, 150 party members raped
56 Dalit and Tribal women working in the local stone-crushing industry. Mr Mohapatra, then working as a journalist for a leading national newspaper, helped the women get medical statements from reluctant doctors and pressed police to register the rapes and go after the rapists. Mr Mohapatra exposed the rapist politicians in the newspaper, and as a result the state government fell.
Tribal people fight for land rights
In 2000, twenty-six families got their land back (225 acres). 47 other land cases are pending.
In 2001, a steel company funded by the IMF displaced 3000 Tribal people from their land. 250 people were then employed by the company. Tribal women went to the forest to collect leaves and roots to eat. Foresters and police forced the women to leave. When the women protested, the police and foresters kidnapped, raped and beat them in a government office. FFDA is helping the women to publicise the atrocities and take legal action.
Organising against GM food and environmental destruction
FFDA is exposing how genetically modified
(GM) food makes people ill. In 1999, 30,000 people died in a cyclone
. CARE International
and Catholic Relief Services
gave GM bulgur wheat to survivors. After six months, thousands of people became ill from the wheat. FFDA picketed CARE International offices. After a long battle, the Indian government in the last week of February 2003 banned the GM food supplies by overseas organizations.
FFDA publicises the consequences of the mining industry’s destruction of the hills in Orissa.
Situation of freedom of expression in India’s Tribal State of Chhattisgarh
Attempts to silence journalists are intermittent throughout India and not confined to specific conflict zones. Journalists in the Naxal Conflict
area in the state of Chhattisgarh
can pay the ultimate price for telling the truth. They are prevented from reporting and investigating by corrupt politicians, police and Salwa Judum
members, many receiving harassment, intimidation and beating. Reporting on the Maoist
conflict in this area is restricted to press releases by government officials and on occasion statements issued by the Maoists. There are heavy restrictions on the freedom of movement and expression causing many victims not to speak out. Underneath the one-sided government press releases and gagged journalists; the war rages on.
The ugly face of law keepers
In India, human rights violations against women are relentless, systematic and widely tolerated. This public epidemic of inequality, discrimination and violence against women spreads to the authorities that are employed to protect them. The raping of women in police custody and by security forces deployed to provide their protection, is a gross but common violation of their rights.
First lesbian marriage in India
Mr Mohapatra, the team leader of FFDA, provided legal expertise for and was a witness at the first official lesbian
marriage anywhere in India of two young Tribal women in Chhattisgarh