Hyderabad: Three Dalit women who won the United Nation’s Equator Prize award have been allegedly denied visa by the US consulate in Hyderabad. Ms Anasuyamma, Ms Mogulamma and Ms Mayuri were to travel to the US on a personal invite from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) between 19th – 26th September to receive the prestigious award. However, unfortunately, the women were turned down by the US consulate with a simple rejection quote that said: “You are not eligible”.
Ms Anasuyamma, Ms Mogulamma & Ms Mayuri are members of the Decan Development Society (DDS), an Agri-based NGO in Telangana.
According to DDS, the UNDP had personally sent an invite to the women farmers of the NGO requesting them to come for the award ceremony. “We look forward to personally congratulating you on Deccan Development Society’s remarkable achievements”, the invitation said.
Last month DDS had won the UN award for being “an outstanding example of a local, nature-based solution to climate change and sustainable development.”.
“Finding such solutions and initiatives must rightly belong to the women of DDS Sanghams who over the years, through their commitment and hard work have made these local solutions possible and listen to a level of recognition by the highest organisation in the world,” said PV Satheesh, Director, DDS.
In recognition to UNDP’s invitation DDS had selected two community workers Ms Anishamma, a community forester & Ms Mogulamma, an outstanding organic farmer, who is also the President of All India Millet Sisters Network and also the youngest filmmaker of the community, Ms Masanagari Mayuri who had the distinction of winning an award for being the youngest biodiversity filmmaker in Asia.
However, when the women went to visa office for a personal interview, they received a rejection slip saying they are not eligible for US visa according to Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, US.
According to this act, a visa applicants must convince the Consular Officer of the following:
- that he or she will return to their home country following a temporary stay in the US,
- that he or she can financially afford the stay without having to seek non-sanctioned employment in the U.S.,
- that the visit is for legitimate reasons permitted by the applicant's visa category.
“If this was the reason why were they (the women) invited to come from the villages to the Consulate office. Why were the fingerprints were taken yesterday giving us the hope the visa process had started?” asks DDS
“This indicates that bureaucrats who handle the visa section display zero sensitivity to the poor and women in India and reject their right to personally receive a prestigious international award. US, as the upholder of the Human Rights cannot simply trample over the rights of the people to genuinely travel to that country that too on valid invitation by the highest international body, United Nations,” said a representative from DDC.
“We strongly protest this ill-treatment of 3 outstanding Dalit women from the privileged sections of the society who have worked very hard to merit international recognition,” the Organization added.
This year only 20 organisations around the world from 847 nominations and 127 countries were selected for Equator Prize and from India DDS is the sole winner.