Several representatives of women's organisations and individuals met in the city on Monday and deliberated on the growing trend of denigrating women through different media such as literature and movies.

There was a spirited discussion on whether in the name of freedom of expression people could infringe on the rights of others.

The meeting took objection to the language and content of writers who violated the dignity of women, particularly those holding positions and availing government grants.

In this context, the writings of N. Shivdas, president of Goa Konkani Academy, came in for criticism and unanimously women condemned his objectionable writings. His controversial poem Chedi, which was a local abuse in Konkani, was against commercial sex workers, said Sabina Martins of Bailancho Saad, a women's collective here on Tuesday.

Mr. Shivdas recently drew the flak of women's organisations for his poem on a sex worker which had been published in a collection recently.

On Sunday, Bailancho Saad demanded that the government should ask Mr. Shivadas to resign from the post of academy chairman. “Bailancho Saad condemns the derogatory representation and abuse of women by Mr. Shivdas,” said Ms. Martins.

On Friday, a group of women, including the former Chairperson of Goa Women's Commission Pramod Salgaonkar, hit out at the writer and the publisher of the poetry collection which contained the controversial poem.

Sufala R. Gaitonde, publisher of the book, said no decision had been taken on withdrawing the poem or the book.

The women present at the meeting on Monday signed a memorandum addressed to Chief Minister Digambar Kamat asking him to act against Mr. Shivdas.

The signatories included Pramod Salgaoncar; Radhika Nayak, a college principal; Shaila Desuza of Centre for Women's Studies; Tara Kerkar of Savera; Auda Viegas Bailancho Ekvott; Caroline Collasso of Bailancho Manch; Jyoti Kunkolienkar, writer; Sabina Martins; and Hyacinth Pinto of Goenchea Ostoreancho Awaz.

Several other women extended their support, including Swati Kerkar, the former chairperson of State Commission for Women; Monica Dias, lawyer and writer Shanti Fonseca; Amol Morajkar, Afrose Shaikh, and Suman Naik, according to Ms. Martins.

When contacted for his reaction to the on-going agitation against him, Mr. Shivdas told The Hindu that the campaign against him was motivated and targeted against his presidency at the academy.

“Please try to understand that this is an old poem from my college days (written 40 years ago) and it was not targeted at any woman but it was a manifestation of freedom of expression of a writer. The title of the poetry is the only word for prostitute or sex worker in Konkani language. I have not used it as an abuse against somebody or to defame someone. The campaign is a handiwork of some people who are trying to use the poem out of context,” said Mr. Shivadas.

“It is not that I have written this poem as president of the academy. The collection of my old poems has been recently published and the poem has been part of the collection. So, where is the question of my relinquishing the academy post?” he said.



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