Under the auspices of UN Women, International Campaign against Violence on Women is conducted regularly every year. UN Call for an active campaign world over on this theme for 16 days, starting from 25th November and culminating on 10th December Human Rights Day. All activist organizations world over responds to this call of UN and conduct campaign for 16 days and sensitize the society against all forms of violence on women. Dalit Sthree Sakthi responds to this UN call every year and conducts campaign on the theme of violence against women. As part of the annual feature, this year also Dalit Sthree Sakthi inaugurated its campaign against all forms of violence against women on 25th November. Dalit Sthree Sakthi specially focusses on the violence going on Dalit, Adivasi women and girlchildren. Further, Dalit Sthree Sakthi is seriously attempting to focus on gender inequality which is the root of all forms of oppression and violence against women. In this campaign Dalit Sthree Sakthi is enlightening the public in general about the patriarchal ideology and how it is rooted in the minds of all. Unfortunately, even women unconsciously adhere to the patriarchal ideology. Caste, religion, cinema and even the educational system propagate patriarchal ideology in various forms. Dalit Sthree Sakthi has geared up to conduct public meetings, gatherings in villages, towns, district centres on this theme and is conducting awareness camps.
This year’s Gender campaign by Dalit Sthree Sakthi was inaugurated on 25th November at 11.00 a.m.
through a press meet at Press Club, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. Press reporters of all important print and electronic media attended the Press Conference. The press meet was addressed by Jhansi Geddam, National Convener, Dalit Sthree and Bhagya Lakshmi, Hemalatha Coordinators of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Women Collective Leaders and dalit women activists also participated in the meet. The media persons were explained about the International importance of the campaign and the role of Dalit Sthree Sakthi in curtailing violence on dalit Adivasi women and girl children. The schedule of the campaign up to 10th December was released to the press. The need to sensitize the society on gender issues and the need to curtail all forms of violence on dalit women and girl children was explained to the press representatives.
After the press meet, from the afternoon the campaign was conducted in slum areas of Vijayawada. The slum areas of Balaji Nagar, Tarakarama Nagar and Ranigari Thota were covered.The slum residents were gathered at a centre point and they were explained about gender issues, the ongoing violence on marginalized women and how to combat the violence.
The women were motivated to oppose all forms of oppression and violence.
After the press meet and campaign on 25th there was cyclonic storm creating chill weather with rains. Despite the adverse climatic situation, the campaign continued and dalit women participated enthusiastically.
As part of the campaign on 26th in West Godavari district various villages were covered.Dalit
women gatherings of the villages were addressed and they were explained about the gender campaign and the need to fight against all forms of discrimination and oppression on women. The villages of Eluru, Pinakadimi, Chodimella, Koppaka and Vatluru of Pedavegi, Pedapadu mandals were covered on 26th November 2020.
On 27th November 2020 a conference on gender issues was held at Guntur in A.C. College conference hall from 11.00 a.m. onwards. This college is situated in the heart of the town and easily accessible to the people. The conference was attended by about 100 dalit women. The conference was addressed by Ms.Prasanthi Susanna, Managing Director of A.C. College spoke on the vulnerable situation of the women and stressed the need to continue to struggle for realization of the rights. She lamented that despite long struggles the rights guaranteed were not actually realized. She stressed the role of women as mothers, as mother is the first teacher to a child and the need for mothers to impart basic values to their children.
Jhansi Geddam, National convener of DSS explained about the theme and necessity of the campaign.She narrated various incidents of violation of rights of dalit, Adivasi women and how
they didn’t get justice in the present administration of justice.She explained how DSS has been relentlessly aiding the victims in getting justice.
Further, she elucidated various special laws that exist for the protection of dalit women and girl children, but how the laws are not properly implemented due to the deep-rooted bias of the personnel in the justice administration system. She cautioned the dalit women to be vigilant and acquire knowledge of the laws and rules, so that they can demand their rights. Coordinators of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh States BhagyaLakshmi and Hemalatha also addressed the gathering. They recounted the incidents of violence that took place recently and what DSS has done in each of these incidents in getting justice. From among the audience the women collective leaders and Youth leaders came on to the dais and shared their experiences.
Before the commencement of the conference dalit women marched towards Lodge Centre at Guntur and garlanded Ambedkar statue.
After the completion of the conference in the morning of 27th, campaign was conducted in the villages of Tenali mandal in the afternoon. Kopalle, Angala Kuduru and Tenali villages were covered in which gatherings of dalit women were explained about the gender issues and ways to contain violence on women.
On 28thNovember 2020 campaign was conducted in a few more slums in Guntur city, IsraelPeta, Mission Forum, Gaddipadu, Namburu, Pedakakani. Large number of dalit women actively participated in the campaign.
With these meetings and conferences, the campaign in A.P. was completed and next the campaign was taken up in Telangana at Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Vikarabad districts.
On 29th and 30th November 2020 and 1st December 2020 campaign in the villages of Yethirajpalli, Milardevarampalli, Madireddypalli and other parts of Chevella, Vikarabad areas was conducted.
As part of the campaign a conference was held on 2nd December 2020 at 11.00 a.m. at Conference Hall, Municipal Office, Vikarabad.Heads of various mass organizations and advocates of the area participated and spoke in the conference. They extended solidarity to DSS.
Before the commencement of the conference dalit women marched towards Ambedkar statue and garlanded the statue. Then, a press meet was conducted followed by conference on gender equality.
On 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7thand 8thDecember the campaign continued in the villages and slums of Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy and Medchal districts. The following areas were covered during these days:
Veer Nagar, Chintal Basti, Prakash Nagar, CC Nagar, Gundala, Chanvelli, Malkapur, Khanapur, Aloor, Kushaiguda,Jeedimetla, Balaji Nagar, Tukaram Gate, Addagutta, Bholakpur and Asif Nagar.
A conference was held at Ambedkar Bhavan, Chevella on 5th December 2020.Heads of various mass organizations and advocates of the area participated and spoke in the conference. They extended solidarity to DSS.
Round Table Conference:
As concluding part of the campaign in A.P. and Telangana States, a Round Table Conference (RTC) was conducted on 10th December 2020to mark the Human Rights Day.
The RTC is a convenient way to focus on the redressal of dalit, Adivasi women and girl children victims of various atrocities. In this RTC, concerned officials of various departments will listen to the victims and witnesses of violence and take decisions on the spot to redress their grievances.
This year’s RTC was held at Madina Education Centre, Nampally, on 10th December 2020. Out of a large number of cases DSS selected dalit Adivasi victims and witnesses of 24 cases of atrocities who gathered at the venue and narrated their struggle for justice and the hardships they are facing in the implementation of SC, ST(PoA)Act and other laws. A booklet consisting of full details of each case was prepared and circulated to the participating officials beforehand. Concerned officials from Director of Prosecutions, Women and Child Welfare, Social Development departments participated in the Zoom conference. Heads of various organisations also attended. Important officials and others who participated in the RTC are:
· Ms.Divya Devaraj, IAS, Commissioner, Women & Child Welfare Department
· Ms.Vyjayanthi, Director of Prosecutions, Telangana State
· Ms. Lavanya from Social Development Department
· Dr. Siddoji Rao, Convener, SC&ST, IAS/IPS Officers Forum
· Sri. Narsingh Rao, President, All India SC/ST Federation
· Ms.Rajitha, Lecturer
· Dr.Sudarshan Balaboyina, Lecturer
Apart from the above officials and functionaries, heads of various organizations, representatives of print and electronic media attended the RTC.
Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS spoke about the 16-day gender campaign and its international significance as UN call for ending the violence on women. She explained how the campaign was carried out in villages, slums and cities. The purpose of this campaign is to sensitize the society on the violence on dalit, Adivasi women and girl children. She stressed the need to enlighten everyone in the society about the gender discrimination and the roots of patriarchal order. She pointed out how deep rooted the patriarchal order is that even women unconsciously follow and reinforce the gender oppressive norms. These oppressive and discriminatory norms are strengthened by literature, movies and even by the education system. Then she narrated how the personnel whose responsibility it is to implement the laws are failing to do their duties due to various bias and negligence. Though SC,ST(PoA) Act is stringent the perpetrators of atrocities are able to escape punishment because of the lapse in proper implementation. She explained about the 24 cases of victims of atrocities and their owes in getting justice.
Then the victims of 24 cases of atrocities narrated how the atrocity took place and their difficulties in getting justice and compensation. The victims broke down while explaining their griefs. The participating officials in Zoom responded to the problems of the victims.
Ms.Vyjayanthi, Director of Prosecutions: She assured that she will discuss with the PPs and other concerned about the issues of the accused not being arrested, counter cases foisted on the victims as a revenge, improper registration of sections of law. She assured to rectify the illegalities. Commenting on the medical negligence of doctor in Sunitha case, she condemned the negligence of the doctor and suggested to complain against him to All India Medical Board.
Officials of the Women and Child Welfare assured to provide education, shelter to the girl children victims of rape and other atrocities. Further, she said that a decision was taken to provide compensation and relief to the victims irrespective of evidence.
Officials of Social Development assured to examine the 24 cases in detail and solve the issues like delay in getting justice and see that compensation and rehabilitation is provided at the earliest.
Heads of various organisations who attended the RTC appreciated DSS for its work and assured solidarity with DSS in getting justice for the victims.
The visible and immeasurable impact of the campaign and RTC may be summarised as follows:
Victims who have been undergoing agony all the time felt relieved after the RTC. Their morale got boosted and they gained self confidence that they can stand up to fight until they achieve justice.
·As for as other participants, including officials, are concerned, face to face interaction with the victims served as mirror of the ground reality of how the system is functioning in fact. This definitely made all of them to reflect on the gap between the reality and the ideal which makes them to think of ways to rectify the loopholes.
The media persons that attended the RTC themselves saw the reality of functioning of the system as well as the agony of the victims which influenced them to sympathetically understand the situation dalit women. The wide coverage of the RTC in the print and electronic media helps the dalit women, men and society at large understand about the plight of the dalit women and how the SC, ST Act is diluted in reality. Further, the RTC and its wide coverage helps in shattering the arguments of a section of prejudiced persons who propagate that the SC,ST Act is being misused.
The gender campaign, conferences in the villages, slums and town centres enlightened the dalit women and also dalit men about the gender discriminatory practices.
The participating organizations were motivated about the work of DSS on gender disparities and it strengthened the networking bonds with DSS.
Due to Covid situation there was a lull prevailing among the social activists and organizations. The 16-day campaign and RTC gave a fillip to everyone.
Thus the 16 days gender campaign and the concluding RTC has discernible and invisible impact on various sections of the society and definitely gives a boost to the social consciousness in right direction.