She stressed the need for innovative strategies to combat violence against women.

Violence against women is not just a women’s issue but stunts economic and social development of a nation as it costs substantial legal, health and security expenses for injury and abuse, Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General, U.S. consulate, Chennai, said in Tiruchi on Thursday.

Inaugurating the American Consulate-sponsored workshop on ‘End violence against women’ at the Bishop Heber College, she said, “Gender based violence is not an Indian issue or an U.S. issue, it is a global issue that cuts across borders.”

Not only are the psychological effects of gender-based violence incalculable, but physical well-being of women is impacted. Violence increases their risk of developing serious conditions including reproductive health problems, maternal mortality and susceptibility to HIV infection. Besides, violation of rights of women costs financial damage including judicial, police and counselling costs. In United States alone, the cost exceeds 5.8 billion dollars, a year. Stressing the need for innovative strategies to combat violence against women, Ms. McIntyre cited the existence of women police stations in Tamil Nadu as an example.

Don’t keep quiet

Violence against women is perpetuated because women don’t speak out against crimes but sweep them under the carpet, said Jayashree Muralidharan, district collector, at the workshop conducted as part of the ‘16 days of activism against gender violence campaign’. “Do not keep quiet. Know when you have to speak out,” she reiterated. Often men excused their violation of women’s rights under the cloak of alcohol consumption, she added.

“Stand up for other women,” Ms. Muralidharan insisted, attributing indifference as the root cause for many crimes.

The first battle must be won at home, noting that parents often compel girl children to compromise on choice of education and rush them into marriage. Ms. Muralidharan insisted that raising male and female children equally was the first step towards ending violence against women.

Though Tiruchi district has forged ahead in terms of per capita income, education and health, it lags behind in child sex ratio (children between 0 and 5 years) with 985 girls for every 1,000 boys in the district.

As there has been no significant decline in crimes against women, a different approach was essential to set right the problems, particularly skewed child sex ratio, said N.Manimekalai, lecturer, Bharathidasan University. Paul Dayabharan, principal, Bishop Heber College, spoke.

The global campaign to eliminate violence against women and girls began on November 25 with International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The workshop was organised by Women’s Integrated National Development (WIND) Trust, Regional Association for Women’s Studies (RAWS) and Bishop Heber College.