Gender Campaign-16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence
(Campaign Conducted by Dalit Sthree Sakthi with the support of Women and Child Welfare Department, Government of Telangana)
Every year, UN Women calls for a vigorous gender campaign for 16 days which the UN described as “16 days activism”/ “Orange the World”. DSS has been conducting this annual campaign, “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” which begins on 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs through International Human Rights Day on 10th December.
Violence against women and girls has become routine and has increased during and after Covid-19. The present deterioration of economies around the world and looming food crisis is also manifesting in the form of violence on women and girls.
While these material conditions are taking the toll of women and girls on the one side, on the other side, fundamentalist ideology is attacking the very idea of women’s rights and her equality. This is happening around the world in various forms like anti-abortion rights, hijab, temple entry etc. In this background of anti-feminist movements, rising attacks on women rights activists, women’s rights organizations are being increasingly marginalized.
This context makes this 16 Days gender campaign more relevant. In the context of India, the violence on women is more acute and pronounced on dalit women and girls. For this reason, Dalit Sthree Sakthi conducts these 16 days gender campaign with focus on ending the violence on dalit/Adivasi women and girl children. DSS believes that ending violence on dalit/Adivasi women is not the business of dalit women alone, it is the duty of men, women of all castes, media, government and every right-thinking human being. For this reason, during 16 days, DSS conducts campaign in slums, villages, town centres, schools, colleges and encourages everyone to act against all forms of violence on women, particularly, dalit/Adivasi women and girl children. In a recent survey conducted on domestic violence, a significant percentage of women stated that they believed that the husbands have a right to beat their wives. This demonstrates the ignorance of a large section women about their rights and makes the gender campaign all the more necessary.
DSS launched this 16-day campaign by first conducting a Legal Clinic on day one i.e., 25th November 2022.
Dalit Sthree Sakthi Conducted Legal Clinic at Ambedkar Resource Centre, Lakdikapul, Hyderabad. It is necessary to clarify, what is meant by Legal Clinic. Legal Clinic is meant to bring together the women victims of atrocities and all concerned officials at one place, so that the victims can explain their woes to the higher officials and the higher officials can resolve the problems of the victims in accessing justice. The chief objective of the Legal Clinic is to give a fillip to deliver speedy justice by bringing together the Victims, Witnesses, Human Rights Defenders, Advocates, Social Welfare Department, Police Department, Director of Prosecutions, State & National SC Commissions so that a concerted effort can be initiated by all concerned. This Clinic will, thus, provide an opportunity to the jury to perceive directly the distress and predicament of the victims and witnesses of selected 30 blatant incidents of violence, so that they can evaluate the penal & pecuniary action taken and recommend for necessary further action till logical end. The other corollary objective of this Legal Clinic is to see that the S.C. & S.T. (PoA) Amendment Act 2015 is appropriately implemented in at least the select few cases which will go a long way in realizing the objectives of the Amendment Act.
In the Legal Clinic organised on 25th November 2022 at Ambedkar Resource Centre, Hyderabad. 30 dalit/Adivasi women and girls who were subjected to various forms of atrocities participated and presented their problems in accessing justice.
The proceedings commenced at about 10.30 a.m. and Jhansi Geddam, National Convenor of DSS, presided over the Legal Clinic.
The dignitaries that participated in this Legal Clinic were: Hon’ble Justice Chandraiah, Chairperson of SHRC, Mrs Vyjayanthi, DOP, Mrs. Lakshmi, JD- WCD, Mrs Kavitha, JD – SWC, Mrs Naga Lakshmi, JD – SC Development Dept., Ambassador Vinod Kumar, Shri Ravi babu IAS (Retd.). Women organisations leaders Mrs Sajaya, Mrs Sathyavathi from Bhoomika, Vanajakshi from DICCI, Jhansi and Pushpa from PoW, Sumitra from Ankuram, also participated. Shri Venkat Reddy, MVF, Advocates Shri Sadiq, Shri Ananthayya, Shri Srinivas, Narasimhulu and Shri PSN Murthy, IDAS etc also attended the Legal Clinic.
Jhansi Geddam, first explained the 30 cases of dalit/Adivasi victims who were subjected to atrocities like murders, rapes, attacks, mass attacks, cheating in the name of love, land grabbing and sexual harassments. She explained the purpose of the Legal Clinic. She brought to the attention of the
participating officials that the victims were not given compensation or rehabilitation. She narrated how the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was not implemented properly.She explained that on the one hand the victims are denied access to justice and on the other hand they subjected to harassment by foisting false counter cases.The police who are unresponsive to the atrocity committed on the poor dalit women exhibit lot of enthusiasm in the counter case knowing fully well that it is a false case.The victims/witnesses are threatened to compromise the case.It is the responsibility of the government to provide protection to the victims and witnesses as per law, but it is neglected and the perpetrators of
violence are free to threaten and pressurise the victims and witnesses.The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is a comprehensive law laying down various duties on the police, prosecutors etc, but it is never implemented seriously.The police fail to book proper sections of the Act while registering the case.Investigation is to be done by higher officials which is done only on paper.Most of the time the police indulge in pressurising the victims for compromise than serious investigation.The Act lays down the time frame for filing charge sheet, which is not done even in one percent of the cases.The Act provides for rehabilitation which is rarely implemented.With regard to compensation also it is becoming difficult to get the same.The victims are forced to run around offices for getting the compensation
Justice Chandraiah interacted with the dalit Adivasi women victims and witnesses expressed sympathy with their suffering. He explained about various laws and institutions that provide relief to the victims. He referred to the institutions like, Human Rights Commission, SC Commission, but people are not aware of these institutions. There is one authority by name legal services authority
which is headed by the District Judge and this institution can resolve various issues of law without formal proceedings. Marginalised people can seek the Legal Services Authority to provide legal aid to them, solve their problems. An advocate is not necessary in approaching Legal Services Authority, no fees is needed. Despite the availability of such an authority, people are not utilising it to the desirable extent due to lack of knowledge. He opined that lack of legal awareness among the people and improper understanding about the laws is the reason for non-implementation of the law. He explained that institutions like Legal Services Authority, Human Rights Commission are doing commendable work in providing relief to victims in various instances of violation of rights and appealed to the people to utilise the service of these institutions for relief. He lauded DSS for the great work being done to assist the victims in accessing justice.
Mrs Vyjayanthi, first congratulated DSS for arranging this meet as it provides opportunity for getting feedback of the work done by them. She said Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is a very comprehensive and good legislation that not only provides punishments but
also the way of implementation of the Act. The Act places responsibilities on various officers to implement the Act and achieve the objectives of the Act. Due to lack of knowledge, overburdened responsibilities the officials are unable to effectively implement the Act. From the stage of investigation to the trial at court there is lot of procedure and responsibilities by various officials and this causes unwarranted delay in rendering justice. On our part, we give trainings to the concerned personnel about the Act and its implementation. Some of our officers are so well trained that they are able to give trainings to others, even at the national level. She advised the victims to know about their rights under the Act and utilise the provisions and fight for their implementation. But it is a process that takes its own time and whole process in evolution. She advised them to give truthful evidence, to stand up against pressures for compromise. If the victims can stand up properly, they can get good compensation also after the trial. If the victims select a legal counsel, we can appoint him/her as prosecutor. She insisted that the victims should stand up to get justice and not get tempted for money offers. If the victims compromise and surrender to the perpetrator of atrocities, that disillusions the implementing personnel also.
Ms. Lakshmi, Joint Director, Women and Child Welfare Department said that she has experience of 28 years in her department and her department is always available for any help, be it monetary or
rehabilitation or any other type of help. She asked anyone to call the toll-free number 1098 with regard to any problem of children below 18 years and with regard to women above 18 years one can call 181 for any help. She assured that they work 24/7 and respond to any call. She assured that they have hostels, homes to safeguard destitute and old age homes. She appreciated the services and assistance of women organisations as commendable.
Ravi Babu, Retired IAS, said that the concerned departments who are supposed to implement the Act have not been committed to do their duty. He felt that it is unfortunate that there are no police officers willing to respond and implement the Act seriously. In this regard, he appealed to the
Chairperson of Human Rights Commission to take up case Suo motto and start enquiry by issuing notices to the DGP etc. He appealed that at least in grave cases of murder etc the Commission should act Suo motto. He pleaded that the Commission should take up at least the 5 most heinous cases out of the 30 cases presented today. He felt that the Commission may conduct online trial and give verdict. He pointed out the lack of positive action from the district administration in going to the rescue of the hapless victims.
Ambassador Vinod Kumar appreciated Dalit Sthree Sakthi work. He said this process is very much useful to victims. In this society, all are assuming that lot of benefits are gained by Scheduled Caste people, but in reality, even 50% of the people are not getting any benefits. In this meeting the owes of the victims reveal many dalit women are living in precarious and heinous conditions. It is very
sorrowful to even to talk about the type of crimes against them. He pointed out conducting legal clinic and interacting with the concerned officials like this is a very helpful process to get justice. In the present-day society, there is lot of oppression going on the marginalised sections, but the response of the government to ameliorate these sections is not up to the desired level. Hence, it is the responsibility of all of us to respond and speak in support of oppressed and suppressed sections. He felt that in sexual harassment cases society has a major role to play, while in the instances of land grabbing the role of the government is vital. He called upon everyone to struggle for justice to the victims of injustice.
Ramadevi, JD, Social Welfare Department, expressed sorrow at the agony of the victims. She said that what they see in the department and what they now actually see in their interaction with the
victims is different. She appreciated DSS and its commitment in assisting the victims. In all the districts the Social Welfare Department functions to attend to the requirements of victims in each district. We always instruct our district officers to give compensation promptly. Compensation is disbursed at the district level and in these cases also we give necessary instructions to the district personnel to disburse compensation. Our department and other departments give some aid, but it is actually victim should stand up against all odds and muster courage, awareness, internal strength to fight for rights.
B. Manikyam, Deputy Engineer, Electricity Department, appreciated the courage of the victims and witnesses in standing up for justice. She said that Dalit Sthree Sakthi is standing as a support to the victims in accessing justice as per law and the constitution.
Women development can happen with the support of the family, but unfortunately, they are subjugated and neglected within the family. Women should be able to assert the rights conferred on them by the constitution. Women should strive to get their socio, economic and political rights. She said that as a government employee, they face lot of restrictions and pressure. She said all of us need to extend our support to Dalit Sthree Sakthi activities.
Ms. Kavitha, Counsellor, State Women Commission, in her speech referred to the girls who were cheated in the name of love and called upon them to face the problem with courage and not to get
frustrated or depressed. Then she advised them not to think that they are alone but think independently. She appealed to the victims that they should utilise the services of Women and Child Development to the extent possible. She said women’s commission has been serious to work as much as possible and then she announced her WhatsApp number as 9490555533 and assured that she will respond to any problem sent through that WhatsApp number. Then she asked everyone to note her mail ID: firstname.lastname@example.org and suggested them to send all available material like FIR etc to the mail. She assured that she will definitely look into all the 30 cases presented in the Legal Clinic and take up them as a challenge. She added that if the police don’t respond they will summon the Deputy Superintendent of police.
Sadiq, Advocate, spoke about the prevailing fear psychosis of advocates, prosecutors in not arresting one of the hardened perpetrators of violence who is occupying the lands of Dalits. He said
he was prepared to take up such cases and appear along with prosecutor. The Act provides for intervention and assistance by advocates and the court cannot deny this. He assured that he will argue along with the prosecutor and see that the case is tried properly.
Sumitra, said that though she has been associated with Jhansi for long, she is practically seeing the victims and their owes only now. She added that these victims need psycho social counselling. It is not group counselling but each individual has to be given psycho social counselling. The victims
need to understand the process involved in which the abuser/oppressor employs various methods of keeping the victim in control. In fact, he uses these methods first to subjugate her and seduce her and that is why the victim submits to him. If the entire process of his control can be understood by the victim, she can become free to a large extent. The abuser indulges in character assassination of the victim to terrify and make her feel low. Sometimes the male files counter cases and controls her. If the girls are sensitive, he touches those weak points to subjugate her and disarm her. Counselling helps the girls to understand this mechanism. Sakhi is rendering counselling services. In all instances of women victims, be it domestic violence, land grabbing or any other, the concerned NGOs should keep touch with Sakhi as nodal agency and review all cases. Likewise, there were committees earlier under domestic violence law etc and we should try to revise and activate these committees. Under the POCSO Act also it is necessary to have a support person to assist the minor girl. We should train up these support persons in all cases.
Leaders of various mass organisations appealed to the commissions to take up all cases of atrocities Suo motto and render justice. They lamented that young girls are being cheated in the name of love. They appealed to the media to give coverage of violence on dalit Adivasi women and girls.
Photos of a few Jury Members addressing the gathering
Photos of a few Victims:
Ms. Baghya Laxmi, State Coordinator of DSS Thanked the jury, leaders of all organisations for participating in the Legal clinic.
Legal Clinic, thus marked the inauguration of gender campaign and from the next day i.e., 26th November onwards, the gender campaign continued in the villages, slums, schools and colleges of State of Telangana.
Zilla Parishad High School Road No.7, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad
DSS conducted the educative campaign in this school on the morning of 26th November 2022. DSS
team and the in-charge Head Mistress, Ms Nusrat Fathima and staff actively participated in the programme. The school children comprising 277 boys and 232 girls totalling 509 children assembles to listen to the speakers. In charge HM Ms. Fathima welcomed the DSS team to the school.
She spoke about the need to understand gender concepts and fostering gender equality. She observed that the 16 days activism of UN is not known to many people. She appreciated and thanked DSS for conducting the 16days activism and educating everyone about the UN call.
Zilla Parishad High School at Ramakrishna Nagar, Erra Manzil, Hyderabad
DSS team then proceeded to Zilla Parishad High School at Ramakrishna Nagar, Erra Manzil, Hyderabad. In this school the gathering of 145 boys and 95 girls totalling 240 was addressed by the team. The Head Mistress of the School, Ms. Santhabhai spoke about the need to know about gender
violence. She said, she has been observing regular violence on women and girls in the slums around her residence. She further pointed out that most girls get educated up to 10th class with difficulty and a good number of girls are undergoing child marriages and abandoning their education and dropping out of school. There are various other issues due to which many girls are dropping out of school. She stressed the need for education without which there won’t be any future for the girls. She warned the boys and girls not to get tempted by harmful habits like intoxicating materials, alcohol and other habits.
Public Meeting at RK Nagar: A meeting with 60 participants was held at Park Grand, RK Nagar, Erra Manzil colony. National Convener, Ms. Jhansi Geddam, State Coordinator, Ms. Bhagya Lakshmi,
Women Collective leaders, Ms. Suneetha, Ms. Sumathi, Ms. Manjula and Ms. Keertana discussed about the 16 days activism and gender equality.
Constitutional Day: DSS team participated in the 73rd Constitutional Day celebrations organised by Bheem Raksha. Sri. Gopal Rao, IAS presided over the function. The logo of Bheem Raksha was inaugurated. Ms. Jhansi Geddam addressed the gathering and gave a detailed version of the gender campaign and the significance of “16 days activism”. She called upon all dalit organizations to follow the precepts of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to treat women as equal beings and as friends. She stressed the need for all men to shed the age-old views of treating women as low and foster equality within the homes and in the community. She briefed them about the campaign being carried on by DSS in schools, colleges, villages, towns and slums.
Public Meetings at Slums/Bastis:
On 27th November meetings were conducted in slums and Bastis of Hyderabad. Meeting at BJR Nagar, Khairtabad was attended by 45 members, Veer Nagar, Chintal Basti, AC Guards was held at the community hall and was attended by 60 members. In these meetings DSS team explained about
the gender campaign and the importance of UN call to end all forms of violence on women. Ambedkar Yuvajana Sangham leaders also joined and spoke about gender equality. Mr. B. Sudhakar, Mr. Kanthi Kiran, Mr. Vijaya Kumar, Women Collective leaders Ms. Sumathi, Ms. Hemalatha, Ms. Nandini, Ms. Annamma participated and spoke on the subject.
Mr. B. Sudhakar stressed the need for education of all and the need to abandon the oppressive view of looking down upon women. He said it is the duty of everyone to stop all forms of violence on women. There is no point in just saying that women should be worshipped while indulging in violence on women. He emphasised that girls should be educated so that they can understand human rights and oppose violence and oppression.
Mr. Kanthi Kiran appreciated DSS for taking up the gender campaign and enlightening the society about the UN Call and the need to end violence on women. He expressed against at the cruel rapes and murders that are being committed on women and girls.
Ms. Sumathi recollected various meetings and discussion that were held in that Basti. She said that
DSS is always supportive of the women in the area and emphasised the need for everyone to be aware of rights, laws and move ahead with unity to end all forms of violence against women.
Ms. Hemalatha said that unity among all women is essential to move forward in achieving the goal of equality. She said that it is important for all of us to be well equipped with knowledge and appreciated DSS for regularly
conducting awareness camps and trainings.
Ms. Annamma said that she addressed many issues of women in that area with the support of DSS.She said she learnt a lot in association with DSS and stressed the need for unity and continuous updating of knowledge on rights to fight for equality.
Awareness Camps in Schools:
On 28th November the DSS team visited the following schools and addressed the students:
1. Telangana Social Welfare Residential School, Sankarpalli, Ranga Reddy district (650 students)
2. Telangana Social Welfare Residential School, Momin Pet (560 students)
3. Telangana Social Welfare Residential School, Girls, Bantvaram (540 students)
4. Vikarabad, BJR Paramedical College (280 students)
5. Kasturba Gandhi Balikala Vidyalayam (216 students)
6. Schedule Castes Welfare Hostel for girls, Chevella (80 students)
Campaign in Chenvelli Village:
Gender Campaign was conducted to 100 members in Chenvelli Village, Chevella Mandal, Ranga Reddy district. The meeting was addressed by the leaders of Ambedkar Yuvajana Sangham Former MPTC, Sri. Narsimhulu who spoke about the need for achieving equality of women and ending all
forms of violence on women. Everyone appreciated DSS in addressing all incidents of violation of rights of women. The villagers actively participated in the campaign. DSS team consisted of Ms. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener, Ms. Bhagya Lakshmi, Telangana State Coordinator, Mr. Lalaiah and leaders of Women Collectives. A human chain and rally was conducted.
Awareness Camps in Schools:
On 29th November the campaign was continued in the following schools
1. Zilla Parishad High School, Tallapalli (245 students)
2. Telangana Social Welfare Residential School, Maheswaram (615 students)
3. Kasturba Gandhi Balikala Vidyalayam, Shabad, Ranga Reddy (205 students)
Campaign in Villages:
Campaign was carried in the villages of Bobbili Gama, Pothugal, Manmari of Shabad mandal and Gundala of Chevella Mandal Ranga Reddy district. Bobbili Gama MPTC Sri. Mallesh and DSS team and Women Collective leaders participated in the campaign.
Awareness Camps in Schools:
On November 30th the campaign was conducted in the following schools:
1. Government Junior College (160 students)
2. Kasturba Gandhi Balikala Vidyalayam, Nawabpet, Vikarabad district (204 students)
3. Telangana Social Welfare Residential School, Chevella, Ranga Reddy district (560 students)
Campaign in Nareguda Village:
Campaign was conducted in the village of Nareguda, Navab Pet Mandal, Vikarabad district with 70 members.The gathering garlanded Ambedkar statue and held rally, human chain and discussed about the issues of gender equality, ending violence on women.Sarpanch Sri. Parmaiah, Dalit Award recipient Sri. Siva Raju, Anganwadi teacher, Asha workers, VAO, DSS team and Women Collective Leaders participated in the campaign.
Campaign in Villages:
Village campaign was conducted in the villages of Madi Reddy Palli, Yethiraj Palli, of Nawabpet Mandal, Vikarabad district. Sarpanch Ms. Yashoda, leaders of Ambedkar Yuvajana Sangham, Asha worker, Anganwadi teacher, Women Collective leaders and DSS team participated in the campaign.
Eswaribai Birth Anniversary:
Jhansi Geddam, National Convener, team and Women Collective leaders of DSS participated in the Memorial meeting of famous dalit women leader, Eswaribai, at Ravindra Bharathi. Ms. Geetha Reddy, former minister, present ministers, MLAs, IAS officers, DICCI leaders, leaders of various organisations and general public attended the anniversary celebrations.
Seminar on Gender Equality:A seminar on gender equality was organised by DSS along with Sakhi team of Adilabad. District Collector and officials of various departments of district administration participated in the seminar.
Awareness Camps in Schools:
On 3rd December the following schools were covered:
1. Zilla Parishad High School (Girls), Maredpalli (340 students)
2. Telangana Social Welfare Residential School for girls, Mahindra Hills (460 students)
3. Telangana Social Welfare Residential Junior College for Girls, Mahindra Hills (180 students)
4. Zilla Parishad High School, Nehru Nagar, Mallapur, Medchal (580 students)
Conference in Jyothi Nagar Village:
A conference was organised in collaboration with Shanthi Chakra International at the village of Jyothi Nagar, Hanuman Peta, West Malkajigiri, Medchal district. Ambedkar statue at Uttam Nagar road, Anand Bagh was garlanded by Jhansi Geddam, National Convener, DSS; Sri. Durga Prasad, Coordinator of Shanthi Chakra International and Sri. Jaswant, Railway Employee. Later, a meeting was held at Community Hall of Jyothi Nagar in which about 80 activists from Malkajigiri, Moulali, Tukaram gate, Hanuman Pet, Jyothi Nagar and other parts of the city attended. Individuals and representatives of several organizations spoke on the occasion.
Sri. Durga Prasad presided over the meeting and appreciated DSS for taking up gender campaign
and sensitizing the society at large about the urgency of ending violence on women. Ms. Jhansi Geddam was the Chief Guest while the other hon’ble guests were: Prof. Dharma pal Buddha, Sri. Maruthi Dande, Sri. K. Vijaya Prasad, Sri. G.V. Kapil Kumar, Sri. Kantha Boudha.
Ms. Jhansi Geddam, explained the various forms of violence prevalent on women and girl children, particularly, dalit women and girls. She narrated about the significance of the UN Gender campaign which is carried on every year throughout the world. The UN Women titled this campaign as ’16 days activism’ to ‘orange’ the world which means sensitizing the society to end all
forms of discrimination against women. These 16 days activism commences on 25th November of every year and ends on Human Rights Day i.e., 10th December of every year. She gave details of various forms of violence going on the society and such violence is more pronounced on dalit women and girl children. In the society, women is considered as 2nd class citizen and subjected to work load, low payments for the work and sexual exploitation/harassment. They are denied their equitable share in all natural and economic resources. Hence it is necessary to sensitize the society on this gender discrimination and motivate the women and girl children to face all challenges and march ahead. These 16 days vigorous gender campaign is conducted in towns, villages, slums, schools and colleges to increase awareness of all on gender oppression and the need to achieve gender equality. She pointed out the deep-rooted traditions in perpetuating gender inequality.
Jhansi Geddam explained the stereotype gender roles and how these stereotypes are reinforced in socialisation at home and in the society and even school curriculum. At homes, girls are trained to do house hold chores like sweeping, washing utensils etc and sent to government schools, while boys are allowed to go around and play and boys are sent to private schools. Girls’ education is discontinued at the school level and she is married at an early age, even before she attains 18 years. More and more child marriages are taking place among the Dalits, backward castes of rural areas. In addition to oppression, discrimination many girls are being cheated in the name of love. Male youth are seducing girls, many minor girls and sexually exploiting them by promising marriage and abandoning them after some time. The number of such instances of cheating are increasing. In a number of such cases, the girl is made pregnant and abandoned. The ordeals of such girls is pitiful, as they have to face isolation and shame in the family and society. Most such girls do not gain any significant legal relief as the police and personnel in the justice system do not cooperate much. It is necessary for all realise all these aspects of gender oppression and discrimination and educate the women and girls on gender aspects. She briefed the gathering about how DSS team is campaigning at all levels and in schools and colleges. She stressed the need for continuous gender education and at levels including school curriculum.
Maruthi Dande, appreciated DSS team for their dynamic campaign on gender discrimination and sensitising all sections of the society on gender issues. He observed that there is need for ending all forms of violence on women. He said that there is hypocrisy in the society and everyone says that women should be respected and worshipped but in practice look down upon the women. He said even now there is patent discrimination with regard in employment in temples. Only males are appointed as temple priests.
Dharam Pal lauded DSS for the gender campaign and emphasised the need for such campaigns to sensitise the society. He called upon all men to come forward and participate in gender campaign. He said gender sensitisation is not just the responsibility of women but also of men. He explained the efforts of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in protecting the women through law reforms and how the traditionalists opposed his efforts. He said in the existing patriarchal society many superstitious traditions are oppressive of women and said that we should come out of such superstitions. He said, it is unfortunate that the hard labour and contribution of women in family, home and at work is not properly recognised.
Kantha Boudha, of Mytri Mahila Sangham spoke about the need for women to march ahead in all sectors. She called upon women to do some or other work and not confine to house. She advised
women to get the children educated and never to neglect child’s education nor to stop the education of their girls’ children. She suggested that children be brought up above caste, religious and other parochial considerations. She recollected how Jyothi Rao Phule educated his wife Savitri Bhai Phule and how she became a great teacher and champion of women education. It is unfortunate that in many slums, villages, even today girl children are not sent to schools. She motivated the gathering to participate actively in gender campaigns and in sensitising the society.
G.V. Kapil Kumar, welcomed the campaign to end violence on women and said the dalit/Adivasi women have been suffering various forms of violence since decades and in most cases, they are denied justice, thereby giving impunity to the perpetrators of the crimes to escape from any punishment. The society and legal systems are under the domination of patriarchal ideology and women should raise their voice against all forms of oppression. Women and girls should pursue education and try to be economically independent. He called upon women to put efforts for standing on their own legs without being dependant on parents/husband etc.
B. Bhagya Lakshmi, Telangana State coordinator explained in detail about the purpose of this gender campaign. She said that it is being done in response to the UN Call to campaign vigorously to end all forms of violence on women. The UN termed it as “16 days activism” and it is being carried on throughout the world between 25th November to 10th December every year. Though this a UN call to all countries and all organisations, only a very few are implementing the programme. DSS has been implementing this campaign for the past 16 years regularly for 16 days in A.P. and Telangana.
After the December 4th meeting, the campaign was continued in Andhra Pradesh from 5th December onwards.
Kornepadu and Kopalle Villages:
A meeting was conducted in Kornepadu village, Vatticherukuru Mandal, Guntur district in which
about 30 women participated. Jhansi Geddam, Bhagya Lakshmi, local dalit leader Mr. Vinayakumar and others participated. The gathering was explained about the nature and purposes of the campaign and the details of the campaign carried on till then. The gathering was enlightened about the situation women and about various forms of oppression and violence. They were narrated about the rights of women in general and under important special Acts. The gender concepts and the role of social traditions in perpetuating stereo type was discussed.
Lurd Government High School, Guntur:
Awareness programme was conducted in Lurd Government High School, Bongarala Beedu, Guntur in which 205 boys and 219 girls i.e., 424 in total attended. National Convener, Jhansi Geddam, State Coordinator Bhaygyalakshmi and the school Head Master spoke and inspired the children.
Government High School, Nambur:
Awareness Camp conducted in this government high school was attended by 421 boys and 310 girls i.e., 731 in total.
Slums in Guntur town:
Meetings in the slums of Mission Farm, Swarna Bharati Nagar and Yesubhakta Nagar were organised by women collective leaders and the gatherings were enlightened about the ongoing gender campaign and the need for ending all forms of violence against women and girls.
Government School, Chittapur village, Eluru district:
Awareness camp was held at Government High School, Chittapur village, Chatrai Mandal, Eluru district in which 79 boys and 86 girls (total 165) participated.
Chinnampeta village, Chatrai Mandal, Eluru District:
In this village awareness camp was conducted in Government High School in which 182 boys and 173 girls (total 355) attended the meeting.
Thus, two government schools were covered in Eluru district. In both the schools, Ms. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS and Ms. Bhaygyalakshmi, State Coordinator spoke and explained to the children about the 16 days gender campaign. The Coordinator of Child Line, Mr. Ramesh and his team, Mr. Kote Prakash & Ms. Sandhya from Bird organisation along with the Head Mistress participated in the meeting.
Mr. Ramesh, Child Line, explained that due to the impact of Covid-19 many children turned into child labourers and many children are on the verge of dangerous situation. He said that he saves nearly
45,000 children during the past 20 years. He expressed anguish that many girl children are being cheated every day. Large number of child marriages of girl children are taking place. Unfortunately,
a few children getting addicted to drugs also. It is sad to note that there is no proper protection of the children in the society. The only way to protect the children is to send them school. Only in school children get protection from all dangers. Children can learn ethical living through schools only. Then he asked everyone to note down the number 1098 and contact whenever a child faces any rights violation or call 100 if they need police help.
Mr. Prakash, first explained about the purpose of the present gender campaign of DSS and then sung a few educative songs to inspire the children.
Slums in Vijayawada, NTR District:
Gatherings of women and men at the slums of Ranigari Thota (50 persons), Old Government
Hospital (75 persons), New Government Hospital (70 persons), Ayurvedic Medical College (150 persons) and municipal workers (20) were addressed. The gatherings were held at various places in
Vijayawada. Ms. Sri Devi, State Coordinator of SKA, Child Line Team, Administrator of Old GGH and Ms. Vijayakumari, Vice-Principal of Ayurvedic Medical College participated in these campaigns along with the DSS team.
Social Welfare Residential Degree College, Kanchikacherla:
Awareness camp was conducted for 160 girls of this college.
Andhra Pradesh Minority Residential Girls School:
Awareness camp for 163 girls was held in this school.
Aligineni Peda Muthaiah Zilla Parishad High School:
Awareness camp held in this school was attended by 149 boys and 206 girls i.e.,355 in total.
Note on Gender Campaign in Schools and Colleges:
In the present social context, lot of bellicose and porn material is reaching the school children. The children are left to be influenced by pop and market culture. Due to the pernicious material and culture, the children are indulging in deviant behaviour and committing various crimes including rapes at a very young age. Most of the time the teachers and parents limit themselves to paying attention to marks, ranks and studies. Nobody is investing time to train the children in moral values and responsible behaviour. It is of utmost and urgent need to train the children and educate them on values and the need to be part of nation building. It is necessary to educate the children about basic gender concepts and inspire them towards simple living and high thinking. With this idea in the background, DSS always trains the children on gender, national and constitutional values in a manner which they can understand. Hence gender campaign was conducted in the schools. In the campaign DSS team covered 22 educational institutions and was able to address a total of 8474 boys/girls. Thus, quite a number of boys and girls were fed with alternative ways of thinking about gender, nation, Constitutional values, dangers of media culture, negative aspects of internet and social media addictions etc.
In all the educational institutions Jhansi Geddam, Bhaygyalakshmi and heads of the institutions, others spoke about gender roles and the context of present campaign.
Ms. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener DSS:
Jhansi Geddam explained about the concepts of gender and difference between gender and sex. Gender is a social differentiation while sex is a biological difference. But historically in all society’s roles have been defined by tradition in which women and girls are differentiated and looked upon as low. There are various differentiations of human beings such as, white/black, caste and gender. All traditions and religions have imposed restrictions on women and oppressed them. The women are deprived of property rights and till recently in all countries, women were treated as ‘things and not human beings with equal rights. With the efforts of social reformers and human rights leaders slowly there was change in all societies regarding women’s rights. Earlier, when the husband died, women were burnt along with their husbands. Social reformers changed these brutal killings of women and laws have come prohibiting such practices. From 1985 onwards many conventions have come regarding women’s rights. Despite such conventions and laws, lot of violence is going on women every day. According to government statistics, one rape is taking place for every 3 minutes and a domestic violence incident is occurring for every 11 minutes. All of us know about the news reports of gang rapes and murder of women and girls. All of you know about Disa rape and murder incident. The society reacted to the incident and in response to the social outrage, the government killed them in ‘encounter’. Everyone supported the encounter, but what is the result. Many rapes and murders, cheating the girls, trafficking the women and girls, acid attacks on girls, etc are continuing in the same scale and are increasing. This shows that encounters, strict laws by themselves are not remedies to eradicate violence on women. Entire society should be educated about the gender equality and the need to end all forms of violence on women and girls.
Since this is a global problem, the United Nations gave a call to conduct a vigorous gender campaign every year for 16 days. This is termed as “16 days activism”, which commences on 25th November every year and continues up to 10th December. UN declared 25th November as the International Day for Elimination of Violence on Women. DSS is conducting this campaign in response to the UN Call.
Jhansi Geddam, further explained the children about the traditions which dictate the gender roles and the need to come out of stereo types of gender roles and understanding. Not only social practices, even the educational curriculum teaches that father is head of the family and that mother cooks food for the family. Certain chores like sweeping, washing utensils, cooking, bringing water etc are considered as womanly and from the childhood it is done by girls. In the family itself from the childhood, daughters are assigned the tasks of sweeping the house and washing the utensils while the sons are allowed to play outside. The children were impressed about the need to jettison these stereotype roles and backward concept of looking at some chores as low and womanly. They were impressed about the need to achieve equality of women in every sphere for rapid growth of the country and for a better future. She told that now the older people can’t be changed but children should understand and change and grow as modern citizens.
Jhansi Geddam, motivated the children at every school to study well and aim at becoming a high lever officer like IAS/IPS officers. Only when a high position is achieved one can contribute to the society and eradicated inequalities. The children in every school were told about the POCSO Act and the dangers of indulging in deviant behaviour. The children were inspired to study well and with education only the differences on the basis of caste, religion etc can be eradicated.
Ms. Bhagya Lakshmi: Telangana State Co-ordinator of DSS, spoke at every school on the gender equality and the need for children to concentrate on education. She warned the children how dangerous it would be if the children get addicted to bad habits. If anyone indulges in deviant behaviour and get involved in police cases, their future will be spoiled, hence it is necessary to adhere to school discipline. She thanked the heads of all educational institutions for arranging the awareness camps. These heads not only arranged the camps but, they also actively participated and they educated the children about gender. The heads of the institutions appreciated DSS and Jhansi Geddam for conducting the awareness camps and told the children to follow the ideas explained to them by Jhansi Geddam.
DSS reached the following schools/colleges and boys/girls
Highlights of the Gender Campaign in Schools
During the 16 days campaign DSS team covered as many schools, residential schools and colleges as possible.
Covered the areas of Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Vikarabad and Medchal.
Students were explained about gender and other values in an understandable way, so that seeds of positive thinking were sown in the young minds.
Young students were warned about the dangerous influences surrounding them.
The Principals/Head Mistresses/ Teachers/Staff of all these educational institutions were involved in the programme, so that they may continue to educate the children.
The Heads of various Institutions that participated in the events are: Ms. Vijayamma (Sankarpalli), Ms. Usha Rani, (Bantvaram), Ms. Anitha (Mominpet), Ms. E. Sri Lakshmi (Maheswaram), Ms. Rama Devi (Chevella), Ms. VVML Bharathi (Mahindra Hills), Sri. Narasinga Rao (BJR College), Ms. Sobha (Nawabpet), Ms. Asalatha (Nawabpet), Ms. Krishnakumari Shabad, Ms. Swetha Reddy (Chevella), Ms. Nusrat Fathima (Banjara Hills), Ms. Santha Bhai (RK Puram) Mr. Nagi Reddy (Tallapalli), Mr. Ramu Sarma (Maredpalli), Mr. Prabhudas (Nehru Nagar), etc.
All the heads of institutions without exception welcomed the DSS team and appreciated the initiative. Everyone stressed the need for frequent interactions of this type to inspire the children to lead a responsible student life and protect them from vicious culture/habits.
DSS involved a few leaders of dalit organisations to participate in the campaign and they all spoke to the children.
DSS team included, Ms. Jhansi Geddam (National Convener), Ms. Bhagya Lakshmi (Co-ordinator of Telangana State), Leaders of Women Collectives Ms. Suneetha, Ms. Sumathi, Ms. Manjula, Ms. Hema Latha and Ms. Keertana.
Human Rights Day, Concluding meeting of gender campaign
The gender campaign conducted by DSS for 16days in response to the UN Call was concluded on 10th December 2022 (on the Human Rights Day), by a meeting at Press Club, Vijayawada. The meeting was presided by Jhansi Geddam, National Convener, DSS. Sri. Gareth Wynn Owen, British Deputy High commission attended as Chief Guest. Prof. Jayasri, Retd. professor of law, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Prof. Diwakar Babu, Principal, Siddhartha law college, Prof. Santhisree, Director of Centre for Women Studies, ANU, Dr. Lavanya, Dr. Vijayakumari, Vice-Principal, Ayurvedic College, Sri. Rajesh Konada, Human Rights leader, Australia and others attended the meeting as guests of honour.
All speakers highlighted the need for ending all forms of violence against women. Speakers appreciated DSS for its commitment in conducting this campaign.
Sri. Gareth Wynn Owen, British Deputy High Commission expressed solidarity with DSS in its fight
against violence on women said that it was sad that the violence is unabated even in the modern days. He said that poverty should be eradicated first and sexual exploitation should be curtailed.
Prof. L. Jayasri, noted that all women are being subjected to domestic violence,
irrespective of whether she is educated, employed or ordinary house wife. There is no independence for women and she has to take permission of her husband even to spend on small errands. Though, women are considered equal as per the Constitution and though there are many special laws conferring rights on women, in actuality women are subjugated and denied all rights.
Prof. Diwakar Babu, felt that it is sad that there is no real freedom for women even after 75 years of
achieving independence. Despite so many laws and constitution protecting the women and conferring rights, violence is continuing on women due to the failure of implementation of the laws, as well as the ignorance of women about those laws. He said that it is the responsibility of everyone in the society to root out all forms of violence on women. He underlined the need to realise the culture of indulging in violence, and pointed that even the parents are using force and violence on girl children.
Dr. Lavanya, observed that this campaign is inspiring to all women. She said that it is a step
forward for all women to sit at one place and discuss about the status of women. It is necessary for all of us to change the stereo type socialisation. Even now girl children are snubbed and dictated to be low lying and they are controlled in how they should laugh and how they should talk. This should be changed once for all and the girls should be brought up on equal footing with boys and with full freedom and liberty to express themselves.
Sri. Rajesh Konada, condemned the male preference that is prevalent even today. He pointed out
how one of his friends said in a sorrowful mood that it was minus when his wife delivered. Instead of feeling happy about birth of child parents are feeling negative if a female is born. He cited statistics of how the female to male ratio is reducing to alarming levels. He brought the attention of the audience to the plight of women at every place like offices, hospitals etc. Further, he condemned the tradition of oppressing women in the name of Jogini etc. He called upon everyone to raise above all prejudices and work for full equality of women.
Prof. Santhisree, explained about the importance of gender campaign in response to the call of UN
Women and said that on behalf of their centre, they conducted a programme on 6th December on Cyber Crimes and the ways and means of protecting women from cyber-crimes. She felt it is necessary to see that dalit/Adivasi women are developed and they also join the mainstream. She called upon the women to assert their rights and in this connection, she commented on the ‘me too’ movement in which the women are able to assert their rights and complain about the violation of their rights.
Dr. Vijayakumari, lauded the programme and said a gathering like this one give courage to all
women as courage to assert the rights is important in protecting the rights. She called upon the women to come forward and express their views, their problems and assert themselves. Be it dalit/Adivasi women or women of other communities, it is necessary for all women to build their homes properly. Building homes means taking care of children, husband and everyone in the family. She pointed out that we should not marry our girls before attaining majority and cited one instance, where a girl who was married as a minor died at the time of delivery of a child as she was unable to deliver due to tender age.
Sri. Gareth Wynn Owen, British Deputy High Commission brought some folders for children and he distributed them to the children in the gathering. He interacted with the gathering lively. After this event the organisers and guests grandly felicitated Sri. Gareth Wynn Owen with a shawl and bouquet.