Kerala

Need to promote healthy friendships: Satheedevi

Efforts need to be made in higher education institutions to promote healthy friendship between the sexes, Kerala Women’s Commission new chairperson P. Satheedevi has said.

Ms. Satheedevi who assumed charge on a day that saw the State shocked by the murder of a 22-year-old female college student by her classmate was talking to The Hindu on the rising crime against women, gender inequality, and the commission’s role in promoting women’s rights and addressing their problems.

Besides academics, educational institutions should also focus on fostering interaction between classmates, aimed at their recreation and creating good citizens through participation in social and cultural initiatives. Instead of segregation of sexes, there should be common spaces where students could interact, laugh, and share ideas.

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic had limited social communication, isolation and other stresses could prove to be very dangerous, Ms. Satheedevi said. Girls too should be very watchful and be able to discern if expressions of affection and love were genuine, and not toxic. A gender sensitive environment where women’s freedom, rights, and agency were promoted and counselling was available for students were imperative, she said.

However, lasting change in attitudes to women could be achieved only through changes within families, she said. While patriarchy was acknowledged to be the main factor responsible for the current attitudes to women, it was true that women who accepted these patriarchal notions still existed. Though the young generation had started thinking differently, the older generation was not ready to change enough. Gender equality had to be ensured within families, especially in the way young girls were reared. Education, she said, had a huge role to play in this. Changes in the curriculum through gender audits were a step in this direction.

She underscored the role of ward-level Jagratha Samithis in intervening in various issues related to women and children, besides providing a space for them to express themselves. The services of a medical expert and clinical psychologist through the intervention of the three-tier panchayats could go a long way in addressing many problems.

The Samithis, recommended when the Women’s Commission Act came into being, would also help prevent crime against women through grassroots-level interventions, she said.

Ms. Satheedevi called for training for the police force so that they did not ignore a complaint by a woman or try and strike a compromise. Police personnel had to be trained in gender laws so that gender justice could be ensured.

The commission, she said, would discuss with experts how to better enforce dowry rules, especially those related to gifts that had been excluded from the purview of dowry. A gift given at the time of a wedding should be specified and be in the girl’s name. Wedding expenses too should be limited. Recommendations given by the commission in this regard would be further discussed, she said.

The commission, she said, would lead an elaborate campaign to create awareness of women’s rights, with the support of departments such as Education, Labour, and Culture. Awareness also had to be created against unscientific practices and superstitions, and indecent representation of women in media, she said.


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Printable version | Oct 17, 2021 1:30:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/need-to-promote-healthy-friendships-satheedevi/article36807021.ece

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