A jury of experts to preside over public hearings

‘Courts of Women', an effective concept initiated by the Asian Women's Human Rights Council (AWHRC) to prevent the many forms of women abuse prevalent in society, is coming to Krishna district.

A consortium of 20-odd non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working across Krishna district met in the city in a two-day workshop to chalk out the course of action for successful conduct of a ‘Court of Women on Family Violence'.

A jury of experts drawn from various fields will preside over public hearings. Women subjected to crimes related to the issue will be encouraged to testify at the hearings and to relate their personal experiences - how they suffer, survive and resist abuse.

“A Court of Women gives women a forum to be heard without being ignored. It goes a long way in influencing government representatives and policy-makers at the helm of affairs to take note of the various forms of atrocities against women, committed often in the name of custom, culture or even progress,” says Shakun Mohini, a member of Bangalore-based NGO Vimochana, which is also a founding member of the AWHRC.

“State is not fully capable of meeting women's needs, be it economic, social, political or legal. All social legislations that are in place today to protect the interests of women are a result of a sustained struggle. Lack of political will has given rise to the need to imagine justice differently,” says Ms. Mohini, the resource person at the workshop.

She was in the city to decipher the methodology for successful conduct of the court in Krishna district, hearings for which will tentatively commence in July. A hearing will be conducted in each of the revenue divisions across Krishna district to reach out to a wide spectrum of people. The final sitting will take place in Vijayawada.

“We're not looking at individual cases, but at a woman as a class. Our aim is transformatory justice,” says Theresa A. Joseph, associated with Prajashakti Vidya Sangham, Avanigadda.

Perturbed by cases of the harshest possible ‘family violence' against women who suffer silently, she approached Vimochana with a plea to bring the Court of Women to the rescue of distressed women in Krishna district.

“The event is not essentially about hearings. It will encompass collection and narration of tales, jathas, cultural festival, street plays, road shows and many such activities,” she explains.

Diverse issues

Envisioned and initiated in 1991 by Corinne Kumar, the founder member of Vimochana and AWHRC in the Asia Pacific region, the Courts of Women have been held on diverse issues specific to the different regions like violence of poverty, globalisation and development, the violence of cultures, caste and racism to the violence of military sexual slavery, nuclearisation and of all conflicts and wars.

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