On 22nd January, Ms. Pratishtha Arora and Ms Ritika Bhatia from CSR attended a workshop in Dehradun entitled VAW IN UTTRAKHAND: STATUS, CHALLENGES & WAY AHEAD. at Kamla palace, Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
The objective of this workshop was to focus on status of implementation of PWDVA 2005 and further prepare an action plan which would strengthen collective voices to address the issue of violence against women. CSR’s involvement in advocacy for effective implementation of the PWDVA 2005 project in 2013 and 2015, led to our team members attending the workshop in order to gain knowledge regarding the status in Uttarakhand, and stand in solidarity with the state alliance to strengthen the advocacy.
The workshop began with the registration of the participants which was followed by a welcome note and a brief introduction by Sajha Manch team member about their work in Uttarakhand. Sajha Manch is an alliance of organizations, CBO’s and individuals from different fields who came together to work on the issue of VAW.
The brief introduction was followed by extension of invitation to the experts on the stage in order to take the program further. The panel of Experts comprised of the Chairperson & Member of State Commission for Women and Member of Mahila Samakhya. A presentation on the status of women with a focus on various facts pertaining to PWDVA in was made by Ms. Renu Thakkar. This was followed by expert comments and suggestions along with sharing of experience from participants.
It was suggested by Ms. Renu Thakar, that the women’s groups should ask for the heads of expenditure on PWDVA cases by the State Women’s Commission. One of the participants expressed the need of a system for proper reporting of violence against women cases. Some criticisms came into light, such as the fact that the Nirbhaya Cells only take up acid attack and rape cases. There is a lack of proper functioning of police and Protection Officers. Some suggestions were the idea that the PWDVA needs to be adopted as a cause by the political parties and One Stop Crisis Centers are required. It was also felt that the entire education system needs to be focused and other issues falling under the umbrella of violence against women such as child marriage should also be brought into discussion rather than diverting all the focus on domestic violence. Ms. Pratishtha suggested that there should be a focus on bringing change in the mind-set of people, which should begin at an early stage. This can be done through gender sensitization of men and boys in schools. Additionally, there should be gender sensitization trainings for both men and women in police.
A few participants also felt that it is necessary to divide the workload by placing the ownership on other service providers who can be the first point of help i.e. – Doctors, ASHA and Aanganwadi workers, so that they can further refer the case to the Domestic Violence Protection officers.
Ms. Sarojini Kaintyura, Chairperson, Uttarakhand State Women Commission, requested for suggestions from the participants so that she can take them up and bring the necessary improvement. She also discussed the various changes that were made under her leadership, some of which are:
- State owned guest houses for women are under construction keeping in mind the safety and security of women travelling to Dehradun.
- Demand for Women Patwaris is being pushed forward.
- Pledge Campaigns are running in schools where school children pledge to stand against Dowry system.
The workshop concluded with a street play by a budding street play group which focused on child marriage and domestic violence. This was followed by vote of thanks by the team members of Sajha Manch.
Our team found the workshop very informative and enlightening. Ms Ritika said “The workshop enabled us to see what is happening in our nearby state. ” In the same line of thought, Ms. Pratishtha said “It was interesting to interact with others of the same field and gain their insights.”
CSR hopes to be a part of more such national level events, so as to strengthen our own activities and gain more knowledge about what is happening in other places with respect to women’s issues.
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