Ludhiana, December 22, 2012: A comprehensive strategy has to be evolved through administrative, socio political and judicial measures to combat the inhuman menace of violence against women.
This was the consensus arrived at after open debate on violence against women organised by the All India Working Women Forum (AITUC), Punjab Istri Sabha and Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha Ludhiana today at Shaheed Karnail Singh Isru Bhawan Ludhiana.
Dr Narjit Kaur –Convener of the forum said that it was heartbreaking and sobering to read the morning papers and realise how low we have fallen as a society and as human beings. A group of drunk middle aged men raped a young physiotherapist and brutally assaulted her and her boyfriend. Even if the girl survives her physical injuries, the mental scars she bears may not be erased for a lifetime. What sort of wicked and depraved men they must be to so casually and easily rob the joy and health of a harmless young girl at the threshold of womanhood and life and reduce her and her family to utter despair.
Gurcharan Kochar, President, Punjab Istri Sabha, Ludhiana cautioned that it brings us to the urgent question of what needs to be done to prevent more of our daughters being deprived of their happiness, esteem, health and often, their lives. To act strongly and firmly, she said. The female foeticide, honour killings and discrimination against the girl child are a reflection of gender bias prevailing in the society. This needs to be condemned and corrected.
Dr Arun Mitra, General Secretary, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha said that such crimes are generally committed by the well connected people who feel that they will go scot free after committing the crime. The economic gaps which have increased in the last about two decades have further marginalised the already deprived section of the society who have become more vulnerable to violence.
The meeting proposed certain measures to meet the situation, which included all concerned men and women holding any position of authority and whose voice can be heard by many, should publicly express their outrage and concern, a bill must be passed in parliament at the earliest wherein the outcome of rape cases must be decided within 45 days by a fast track court. Strong punishment must be meted out to the rapist and he must be publicly humiliated, police reforms must be undertaken immediately. Political intervention in the police must stop. If any police station refuses to register a complaint of rape, there must be a strong and well -defined punishment for the concerned officer and laws in relation to sexual harassment at workplace should be enacted in consultation with women orgnaisations.
It was observed that there should be one page devoted in the daily newspapers to women’s safety. This page should exclusively list crimes against women. Detailed identities and addresses of culprits involved, photographs and daily progress on brutal cases (ie who has been apprehended as yet, what punishment has been given etc).
It was also resolved that all employers should make their own workplaces as safe as possible for women and there should be several options for safe travel for women including exclusive buses and taxis, train compartments and plenty of well-lit public toilets. These should have female staff manning them as well.
It was also proposed that all parents, when rearing their children, should place a very strong emphasis on not letting them use violence. Gentleness must be inculcated from the start in boys especially and all schools should make self- defence, especially for girls, a mandatory part of the curriculum.
Others who spoke at the meeting include Sher Singh Aulukh – President BJVJ, M. S. Bhatia – Organising Secretary BJVJ, Jit Kumar – General Secretary Punjab Istri Sabha Ludhiana and D. P. Maur – General Secretary Joint Council of Trade Unions Ludhiana