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Training to Dalit Women Leaders on “Protecting Women’s Human Rights”

Training was organized to selected women collective leaders of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh States on 27th October at Hyderabad and on 14th November at Kakinada respectively to nurture them as community paralegals.

Session - Objective of the Training

Sri GDV Prakash, National Program Manager, Dalit Sthree Sakthi explained the objective of

the training after registration and self-introduction. He said that human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birth right of all human beings. The patriarch ideology that has strong roots in the society is the main obstacle to preserve human rights of women. The training aims at removing all hindrances in protecting women’s human rights in all spheres of public and private life by making dalit women leaders as community paralegalsfor protecting women human rights and dalit women in particular.

Session - Patriarchy – Caste, Class & Gender

Sri Jhansi Geddam, National Convener, Dalit Sthree Sakthi taking the first session, said that the darkness of disgusting patriarchic ideology hangs over the lives of women throughout India.Dalit women in particular are oppressed by the men from their own caste apart from

by the men from their own caste apart from other castes, women from other castes and by the higher class in the broader Indian society. More than bringing about change in the society, it is important that the victims need to change. They should understand discrimination, stand up for their rights and fight for it. For this, dalit women leaders are given trainings and there are various strengthening mechanisms to help them become powerful community paralegals and help other dalit women in combating this three-fold discrimination. ‘Not playing a victim’ is the first step towards fighting for rights. If the dalit women leaders understand the caste, class and gender perspective properly, they would carry on the same to the community. They should demonstrate it in their every act, word and gesture.

Laws and Legal Mechanisms

Sri GDV Prakash took the session on Laws and Legal Mechanisms. He said that in relation to the previous sessions, the community paralegals need to know the laws required to protect the human rights of dalit women. They should have knowledge on human rights, women rights and dalit rights. While knowing, the laws is one element, having a thorough understanding on the legal mechanisms is another. A combination of both is required for being a capable para-legal activist. He then explained in brief about the provisions of SC, ST (PoA) Amendment Act that are applicable for women, DV Act and other women related Act. He then gave an insight on the time frames, concerned authorities and commissions while explaining the legal mechanisms.

Group Discussions on Violence – Responses of Stakeholders

This session was facilitated by Sri B. Bhagya Lakshmi, State Coordinator, Telangana.The participants were divided into 4 groups to list out various forms of violence on dalit

women. After the group work they presented one after the other.Later each group was given a topic,“Sexual exploitation”, “Discrimination at work place”, “Gender discrimination”and “Domestic violence”. Each group has to listout the existing behavior of stake holders – family, village elders, caste elders, dominant community, police, other concerned government officials and media and also the expected behavior.

Group Presentations and Plenary

Sri Samantha, DSS facilitated the presentations of groups and documented their discussions on charts. After all presentations, she gave her feedback, adding points that the groups missed out. She asked the participants what should be done to remove the gap between the existing and the ideal situation. The participants answered that awareness should be created on caste and gender equality among the stake holders, then the legal awareness should be wide-spread through trainings and awareness campaigns. Samantha said that to create any awareness, the paralegals should have perceptiveon all the issues, without which they cannot spread the ideology. Hence, there is a need for the dalit women leaders to be well aware of the rights, laws and mechanisms.

Fact Finding Skills

B. Bhagya Lakshmi took the session on fact-finding skills. She distributed the fact-finding format used by DSS to participants, which is translated into Telugu for their convenience. She then explained the method of fact finding. The community paralegals, on receiving information of an atrocity should first form a ‘fact finding team’ which includes the community paralegals, an advocate, a doctor, and a member from a like-minded organization. This would help in investigating the case from various perspectives. The team should reach the place of incident within 24 hours of occurrence. The important point she stressed is to meet the victim before meeting the accused, village and caste elders, or concerned officials. Then she explained the process of fact finding, recording statements, collecting evidences, consolidating the findings, and preparing the fact-finding report according to the format.

Penal & Pecuniary Follow Up

Sri GDV Prakash explained about the penal and pecuniary follow up which is a continuous process after conducting fact finding. He has explained step by step to be followed and the roles & responsibilities of the concerned departments and required coordination between the stakeholders for accessing justice.He explained in detail on the time lines of both penal & pecuniary issues.

Action Plan

Sri Samantha facilitated the participants to prepare action plan. They listed out the cases they are dealing in their respective areas and the present status. Then they prepared an action plan with the list of cases, present status, authorities to approach and timelines. The meeting was concluded with vote of thanks by B. Bhagya Lakshmi.

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