A multitude of colourful balloons swarmed the sky on the Gandhi Memorial Museum premises on Thursday as hundreds of women gathered there pledged to end all forms of violence against women in an event organised as part of the One Billion Rising campaign.
“Enough is enough. We do not want to lose our brave hearts and human resources”, said Bimla Chandrasekar, director of Ekta Resource Centre for Women as the crowd called for women’s rights.
The One Billion Rising campaign was observed in nearly 266 nations across the world, where flashmobs, marches, singing and dances were organised to mark the campaign.
Hundreds of women in Madurai, including large numbers of college students, converged on the museum premises for the campaign, took an oath to end all forms of violence against women, formed a human chain and let balloons in the air and then danced, faithful to the theme of the campaign which is ‘Strike, Dance and Rise’. The crowd vowed to work towards creating a just society, where women are treated with respect.
According to a report by the Union Nations, one in three women in the world is a victim of violence in her life. It is estimated that one billion women in the world are subjected to violence, which propelled the campaign around the world.
Addressing the gathering, Collector Anshul Mishra urged the women to face with courage the perpetrators of violence. “We have the strong feeling to create an environment that ensures protection for women. The women, on their part, should be alert and should learn self defence techniques to face the perpetrators. Do not hesitate to dial 1091, the helpline for women if the need arises”, Mr. Mishra said. “Crimes against women cannot be tolerated and will not be tolerated,” he added.
Sub-Judge Jacintha Martin, secretary of Madurai Legal Services Authority, pointed out that only incidents of crimes against women happening in public come to the limelight, but violence against women within the household is seldom reported.
“The number of incidents relating to violence against women has increased, as a result of which cases have piled up in courts,” she said. According to her, at least 10 women approach the legal services authority every day for legal aid in cases related to domestic violence.
Deputy Commissioner of Law and Order R. Thirunavukarasu in his speech demanded that women be treated with dignity and equality. “The number of stove burning incidents resulting in death of women has come down significantly because of the strict implementation of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. Women should make use of legal provisions and men should refrain from abusing women,” he said.
P. Phavalam, a member of EKTA, shared the findings of a research conducted as part of the ‘Safe Madurai’ campaign at Periyar Bus Stand. “Non-functioning lights should be fixed and women-only spaces should be created within the bus stand to ensure safety of women who commute at late evenings,” she said.
Students of various colleges in the city presented cultural performances.