Activists have called on men and women to join hands to end the pervasive culture of violence and create a free and fearless society. The appeal was made at a conference on gender-based violence organised by NGO Anubhuti Trust in the city on Tuesday.
The conference was the third in a series of programmes being held as part of an international campaign against gender-based violence. Members of women’s groups, youth groups and chawl committees attended the conference to discuss ways to bring about sustainable change in society based on empathy and rights.
The first panel, comprising journalist Netwa Dhuri and sanitation expert Anand Jagtap, emphasised on the need to stop tolerating widespread violence against women. Ms. Dhuri said, “It is important to promptly fight back against instances of violence. We should not tolerate such behaviour.”
Mr. Jagtap said, “We tolerate violence out of fear. The only way to overcome fear is to organise ourselves and fight this violence together.”
The second panel, comprising advocate Vijay Pattebahadur and local corporator Vinnie D’Souza, delved on the theme of fear. Mr. Pattebahadur said a major reason behind the fear to speak out against violence was the lack of education and awareness.
Ms. D’Souza said women in her constituency often asked her to accompany them when they had to approach the police to file a complaint. She said, “No one should be afraid of the police. They are not running a charity. They are drawing a salary to do their job. It is their duty to register your complaints.”
Deepa Pawar, director of Anubhuti Trust, moderated both the panels and stressed on the need to end institutional violence against women. Ms. Pawar said, “Violence cannot be justified. It is a thought and an ideology.” Nutan Pawar from Vile Parle police station answered several queries on the procedure to file complaints in cases of violence against women.
Youths from Kolegaon and Dombivali made a presentation on structural and social violence against women. The youths described how gender roles were constructed by society and imposed on children. They said gender norms and stereotypes were at the core of violence against women.
Ganesh Khanpat, who mentored youths from Kolegaon, said, “We need to train girls to speak out against violence and not to maintain a ‘womanly’ silence.”