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International Campaign on Violence against Women (16 DAYS ACTIVISM)

Dalit Sthree Sakthi conducted gender campaign for 16 days from November 25th 2021 to December 10th 2021 in response to the call by UN Women. This is an annual feature and this year also DSS implemented the call by UN Women. Meetings, seminars, conferences, awareness camps, rallies, human chains, group discussions, youth camps in schools and colleges etc were conducted throughout the 16 days on the theme of gender equity and stopping violence on women in villages, mandal headquarters, district centers, slums, schools, colleges. Everywhere, the officials from social welfare department, women and child welfare departments, police officials, intellectuals from varied fields, other mass organisations were involved in the campaign. In all the events the oppression of women, the ongoing violence on women and girls, the patriarchal ideology, various laws and international conventions protecting the rights of women and girl children was analysed and awareness created among the people in general and students and women & girls in particular. The legal and practical measures to be taken for prevention of violence on women was explained in every discussion. Wherever the campaign was conducted the details of glaring instances of violence on women that occurred at those places, the reasons for such violence, the measures taken till then to render justice was discussed with people and officials.

The campaign was inaugurated with the formation of a human chain of women and girls on November 25th 2021 at the Alankar centre of Vijayawada at about 11.00 a.m. The women and girls that gathered there carried flexi, posters highlighting the UN theme and raised slogans against all forms of violence on women. Then the gathering proceeded in a rally to Ambedkar bhavan at Lenin centre, where a public meeting was conducted. The event attracted the attention of the public and was widely covered by the media. State level officials spoke in the meeting enlightening the audience about various aspects of gender equity.

The campaign, thus commenced continued up to 10th December and concluded with a Round Table Conference at Hyderabad, Telangana State. During these 16 days, campaign was conducted in 60 villages of 10 districts, 5 colleges, 25 schools, 8 hostels covering a total population of about 15000. Throughout the campaign for 16days the state coordinators of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh B Bhagya Laxmi and M Hemalatha led and participated in all the events. Details of main events are briefly narrated below:

Krishna District

Campaign was inaugurated on 25-11-2021 with formation of a human chain at the busy Alankar centre of Vijayawada, in which about 70 women collective leaders from across the state participated. Posters, flexis were displayed on the theme of gender equity, violence on women and girls. The gathering raised slogans. Then the women and girls marched in a rally to Ambedkar Bhavan where a meeting was conducted.

The meeting was presided over by Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of Dalit Sthree Sakthi who explained the context of launching this campaign in response to the call of UN Women, which titled

the campaign as “orange the world” to connote positive change towards eradication of all forms of violence on women. Then she narrated how DSS has been conducting these 16 days activism every year to sensitize the society about the unabated violence going on women, particularly, dalit /adivasi women and girl children. She explained that DSS had chosen to focus on the atrocities committed on dalit/Adivasi women and girl children. She stressed the need for gender equity and analysed how gender is a social construct based on religious and patriarchal perspective. She called for the women and men to break free from the psychological shackles of traditional way of thinking. She delved on the need for educating the dalit/Adivasi girl children so that they may grow with confidence, knowledge and skills to settle down as empowered women in future.

Sri. Akunuri Murali, IAS, Retd. was the chief guest of the meeting, while Sri. AV. Patel, Executive

Director of APMSME, Sri. Kiran, Secretary General of SC/ST Employees Union of Electricity Department, Sri. Anjana, Programme Director of Tribal Welfare Department, Jelli Wilson, Ex-MLC and others spoke as guests of honour. Sri. Prakash, Sri. Ramesh and others representing various organizations also participated in the meeting.

After the Conference the team campaigned on gender equality in the slums of Ranigarithota, Tarakarama Nagar, Kanur and Sing Nagar.

On 26th November 2021 constitutional day was celebrated by DHPS at Vijayawada on the theme of proportionate representation of scheduled castes in the higher judiciary. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS participated in this meeting as Guest. Other participants were: Sri. Dasari Srinivasa Rao, IAS, Retd., Jelli Wilson, Ex-MLC, Sri. Gurrappa, Retd. Judge and representatives of various Bar associations and dalit organizations.

On 26th November, afternoon an awareness camp on gender equity was conducted to 500 girls of A.P. Minority Welfare Residential School, at Vidyadharapuram, Vijayawada.

On the same day evening Seminar on gender equality was held for the employees of electricity department, at Ibrahimpatnam. Firstly, Ambedkar statue at Kondapalli was garlanded by the

gathering and then everyone proceeded in a rally to the NTTPS conference hall, the venue of the seminar. Sri. Kalyan Kumar, D.E., Sri. Padma Sujatha, Chief Executive Engineer, Sri. Kiran, General Secretary of SC/ST Electricity Employees Union chaired the Seminar.

Jhansi Geddam explained the gender issues and about various provisions of law regarding sexual harassment at work place and other legal rights of women. About 80 employees seriously debated about the gender concepts.

Youth camps on gender equity were held to educate the college and high school girls and boys in Vijayawada on 29th November as follows:

· Government Junior College at Radha Nagar, Payakapuram where about 600 attended.

· TVSRMC High School, Kandirka where about 500 students attended.

· Juvenile Home at Kabela centre with 30 juveniles.

· VSR Colony High School with 584 students.

West Godavari district

A public meeting was held at Chodimella village, West Godavari district on 27-11-2021. Women Collective leaders, villagers from the nearby hamlets of Kandrika Gudem, Sunkara Gudem etc attended the meeting. About 70 women participated and raised slogans about women equality. They garlanded Ambedkar statue and all the women took out a rally.

Later, an awareness camp on gender equality was conducted at Pina Kadimi village. In this camp about 30 women collective leaders and villagers participated. Sri. Sujatha, MPTC also participated in the meeting.

Another meeting on gender equality was conducted at Vatluru village. About 100 women comprising, Asha workers and anganwadi teachers and villagers participated in the meeting.

In all the meetings the women enthusiastically debated about the gender concepts, oppressive practices of women at home and in the society.

Guntur district

On 28th November 2021 an awareness camp on gender equality and about violence on women was

held at Sivanagaraju Colony, Pattabipuram and A.T. Agraharam. About 250 women collective leaders and other attended the meetings and listened to the speeches attentively.

On 30th November a human chain was held at the premises of Zilla Parishad office of Guntur with about 100 dalit women collective leaders and dalit women. Slogans were raised against violence on women and posters depicting messages against violence on women were displayed. Thereafter a meeting was held at the Conference Hall of Zilla Parishad in which Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS and Sri. Krishnaveni, Assistant Project Director of Women and Child Welfare Department participated as guests. State Coordinator Hema Latha, presided over the meeting. Women collective leaders, youth attended the meeting. Immediately after the meeting Human chain and a rally was taken.

Awareness camps on gender equality were conducted to the boys, girls and youth of various high schools in the district on 1-12-2021 as follows:

· Government High School, Nambur village with about 600 students.

· Government High School, Peda Kakani, with about 500 students.

· Lurdhu High School, Bongarala Beedu, with about 350 students.

Khammam District

Awareness camp to the youth was conducted at Government Junior College for girls at Khammam

on 2-12-2021 in which 940 girls attended. The principal, teaching and non-teaching staff also participated in the camp. Vijaya Laxmi, President of Women Lecturers association initiated this program. Jhansi Geddam, National Convener of DSS was the Chief Guest. She enlightened the girls about gender concepts and inspired them to think above

routine traditional patriarchal ideology. The college administration felicitated Jhansi Geddam.

Ranga Reddy District

Youth awareness camps on the theme of gender equality were conducted at the following educational institutions on 3rd December 2021.

· Social Welfare Residential School, Bantvaram mandal, Vikarabad District with 350 students.

· Social Welfare Residential School, Chevella, with 450 Students.

· Momin Pet, Social Welfare Residential School with 343 students.

· Kodangal, Tribal Welfare Boys School with 426 students.

· Peddamul, Social Welfare Boys School with 446 students.

· Kodangal, Social Welfare Residential School with 428 students.

· Rajendra Nagar, Minority Welfare Residential School with 356 students.

District Conference

A district conference was held on Gender equality and prevention of violence on women at the district headquarters of Ranga Reddy district on 8th December 2021. About 100 people attended the conference. Local member of Civil Supply Committee Sri. Ravi, President of Ambedkar Youth Association Sri. Praveen, BJR College Lecturer Sri. Roopa participated in the conference as guests of honour. Before the commencement of the conference the guests along with DSS functionaries garlanded Ambedkar statue and then proceeded to Ambedkar Bhavan, the venue of the conference. A human chain was formed by joining hands after the conference.

Vikarabad District

On 4-12-2021 Awareness meetings on Gender equity, UN Women were conducted to the villagers at Vikarabad, Ethirajpalli, Madi Reddy Palli and Ella Konda of Vikarabad district in which about 300 villagers participated.

Hyderabad District

On 5-12-2021 Awareness camps on gender equality were conducted in the slums of Hyderabad. Meetings were held at Khairtabad, Chintala Basti, BJR Nagar and Veer Nagar with about 350 members.

Gender sensitization classes were conducted in the following schools on 6-12-2021 at Hyderabad:

· Zilla Parishad High School at Maredpalli with 356 students.

· Upper Primary School at Khairtabad with 60 students.

· Zilla Parishad High School at Khairtabad with 52 students.

· Master Talent High School at Maruthi Nagar with 412 students.

· Youth Meeting was held with 686 students of Telangana Social Welfare Residential School & College.

Adilabad District

On 7-12-2021 Sakhi/one stop centre organized a conference on the theme of eradication of violence against women. Sakhi Centre Administrator presided over the conference in which Jhansi Geddam spoke on the gender equality and the UN call for 16 days activism. The district Collector participated as Chief Guest and in this conference while heads of various departments attended as guests of honour.

A signature campaign also was conducted at the event. The conference was a big success and a large number of students from various colleges actively participated in the conference. It is estimated that about 800 students attended the event.

Medchal District

Gender campaign through awareness camps was continued on 9th December by holding camps at Gajula Ramaram, Pragati Nagar and Bachupalli of Medchal district.

On the last day of 16 days activism, a Round Table Conference with victims, witnesses, officials, mass organizations and media were held on 10th December 2021, the Human Rights Day. The detailed report on the RTC is as follows;

Round Table Conference

As part of 16 days activism Round Table Conference (RTC)was held on the last day of the campaign on December 10th Human Rights Day. Round Table Conference is a devise in which a face-to-face meeting of the victims, witnesses and officials of concerned departments is arranged. This helps the officials to listen to the narrations of the victims as to the difficulties faced by them in the justice delivery system. Thus, the officials will have an opportunity of knowing the snags in the implementation and will be able to solve the issues on the spot or instruct the concerned lower officials to resolve the issues. The RTC is attended by not only the victims/witnesses but also the media and other network organisations who will all learn about the reality of working of law. Thus, it helps in sensitizing everyone concerned directly and the people at large in general as the entire event is reported in the press/media.

In this RTC held on 10th December 2021, DSS presented 30 select cases of atrocities. The victims and witnesses of these 30 cases one by one explained their difficulties in getting justice/compensation/security problems/non-arrest of the accused/loss of land etc.

The RTC was held at Ambedkar Resource Centre, Lakadika Pool, Hyderabad from 11.00 a.m. onwards. The Jury for this RTC were:

· Ambassador Vinod Kumar, IFS Retd.

· Sri. PSN. Murthy, IDAS, VR, Chief Advisor of PBI.

· Scientist Charulatha

· Dr. Rama, Associate Professor, NIT Warangal.

· Sri. Narasimha Rao, ACP, Crimes, Cyberabad Commissionerate.

· Sri. Naga Lakshmi, S.P., PCR CID

· Sri. Rama Devi, Additional Director, SCDD.

· Sri. Surender, Additional DoP.

· Sri. Anjaneyulu, Regional Manager, Action Aid.

· Dr. Siddoji Rao, Convener, Help Desk.

· Sri. Vijaya Krishna, High Court Advocate.

Jhansi Geddam presided over the RTC while B. Bhagya Lakshmi, State Coordinator of Telangana presented the cases. The jury was appraised of the present status of each case and the work done by DSS in each case.

The jury listed to each case attentively and noted the points to be resolved. The jury commented as follows:

· The victims deserve to be appreciated for their persistence in standing up for justice and coming all the way to Hyderabad to attend the RTC.

· The jury members opined that the social perspective of looking down upon women is the causative factor for all forms of violence on women.

· The victims were assured that their cases will be examined and the victims will be helped until the accused get convictions.

· The women should be aware of their rights and only through their empowerment violence can be stopped.

· DSS was appreciated for coordinating between and victims and the concerned departments and bringing them together to share the lapses and the status of each case.

· It was felt that after the amendments to the SC, ST(PoA) Act in 2015 many changes were brought and due to the heavy load of cases, courts are not able to complete the trials faster and dispense speedy justice.

· Public Prosecutors are being trained on the latest laws on every fourth Saturday.

· The higher officials who are not aware of the discrimination and ill treatment of victims by the lower officials have learnt the real situation through this RTC.

· The jury felt the lack of education and poverty are the reasons for the ill treatment and violence that is going on the women.

· The jury pointed out that as per the reports of NCRB violence on women is increasing in the State of Telangana and noted that the role of officials is important in preventing violence on women.

· It was felt that there are three important aspects to be implemented under the SC, ST (PoA) Act, namely, immediate relief, proper compensation and rehabilitation.

· More than payment of compensation, it is important to see that the accused are convicted in as many cases as possible. It is convictions that deter the accused and help in preventing further atrocities.

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