Speakers at a workshop, organised jointly by the United States Consulate-General and International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care, exhorted women and girls to stand up and fight against the different kinds of violence and crimes perpetrated against them by society.
Addressing the one-day workshop on ‘Gender-based violence – Taking a stand,’ at the Women’s Christian College here, Sarah Talalay, Vice Consul, US consulate, told the faculty and student gathering that it was important to continue to work together on the issue locally as well as globally. “After all, tragically, one in three women will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime,” she rued.
Organised as part of the annual “16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence” – an international campaign launched in 1991 from the first Women’s Global Leadership – the event will have a 16-day run from November 25, which is the International Day Against Violence Against Women, to December 10, International Human Rights Day. “The idea is – at least symbolically – to link violence against women to human rights,” the Vice-Consul said.
As part of the efforts, the Consulate’s Women’s Empowerment Working Group was working on a number of initiatives aimed at empowering women and ensuring their safety. “We hosted a series of roundtables highlighting women’s achievements in politics, science, business, and media during Women’s History Month,” she pointed out. “We’ve screened movies about women’s issues and honoured some of South India’s exceptional women leaders and entrepreneurs.”
Describing India as a “world leader when it comes to women in politics,” Talalay said: “You have women chief ministers, including our own here in Tamil Nadu, and have even had a female Prime Minister and a female President.”
Tamil Nadu was one of the pioneers of all-women police stations (AWPSs) in the early 1990s to help address violence against women and provide a safe environment for women to get help. “These All Women’s Police stations have served as model throughout the world,” she added. Superintendent of Police, Economic Offences Wing, Annie Vijaya said gender-based violence seldom got reported because of the reluctance shown by women and girls to approach the police on the issue. “It is discussed within the groups, but never got reported” she said. ”
The police officer exhorted women and girls to approach the AWPSs, which had been specifically set-up to deal with issues involving them. “There are NGOs and counsellors attached to the AWPSs to deal with women’s problems such as domestic violence,” she said. “But we cannot take any action unless women themselves come forward and lodge written complaints.” Rofia Ramesh, a post-graduate student of the college, called upon women to put a united fight against gender violence. Indrani Goradia, Life Coach, Indranis Light Foundation, US, conducted the workshop.