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‘Women are victims, and perpetrators too’

By Mirror Desk Updated: Nov 27, 2018 12:38 am
Dr. M Sashi Jamir from the Oriental Theological Seminary addresses the 16-day campaign against violence against women, at Kingdom Culture Church, at Nuton Bosti in Dimapur on Monday.

16-day drive against gender violence, at Kingdom Culture Church

Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, Nov. 26: Nagaland was tagged the ‘safest state for women’ in India. But at its core the state is not totally safe, perhaps a bit ‘safer’ comparatively, which is also debatable, said K Ela, the director of charity welfare organisation Prodigals Home, during a recent seminar in Dimapur.
The social activist argued that she does not consider Nagaland the ‘safest’ because there are unaccounted reports of violence against women that are not reported—not all women speak up.
The Prodigals Home director was speaking at a programme marking a 16-day campaign to end violence against women, which was conducted at Kingdom Culture Church, at Notun Bosti in Dimapur on Mon. Nov. 26.

The campaign has the slogan “End gender based violence in the world of work.” A signature campaign was also undertaken during the event with the message “violence against women—free community starts with me.”
Then again, she gave the context of how women treat others in domestic situations. Ela pointed out that the women themselves were some of the worst perpetrators too, inflicting violence against young girls although women are also the victimised. “Women are victimised by men but women again are the worst perpetrators against those who cannot speak for themselves,” she asserted.

Ela pointed out that individuals are being indifferent to the plight of others. “If we are not doing what we can, it is also an indirect form of violence. We listen, we talk and we go back but nothing happens,” she said.
Drawing attention to the plight of girls as young as five to six years of age who are domestic helpers, Ela said, “Violence starts from home from a place where little girls work; also rape happens at home and slavery is still practised at home with bonded labourers.”

Even policewomen
being harassed
Further, Ela was concerned at the lack of toilets for female vendors in the market. She appealed to the authorities to speak out on the right to privacy for the vendors too. Also, she brought to light that even policewomen are not being spared from harassment in their workplaces. She talked about calls she said to receive from policewomen who confide in her that they who are supposed to be law enforcement personnel face harassment at their workplace from their male counterparts.
“How can we expect women to be safe when even female police face harassment?” Ela wondered.

For women, even taking up a job comes with a price in the form of occupational hazards, Ela said. The fear of being harassed if women take up jobs that require services at night, holds them back from availing job opportunities, she said. “Why can’t women be given a safe place and be confident at their workplace?” she questioned.

The social activist has suggested making the campaign an everyday affair and not just a 16-day event. One can engage in conversations about the issue every day, educating and publicising it. She explained that women belong to the community too. She appealed to citizens to raise a collective voice and to share privileges with those without privilege.

Pointing to the comprehensive aspect of discrimination, she remarked that “a man does not like women who know too much in terms of education and who talk too much”; but a woman is entitled to talking and when she has anything right to do. She lamented that although the country was waking up to social movements such as the #MeToo movement the Naga women were still yet to raise a voice on issues concerning it.

Rini Ghose, the director of another nongovernmental organisation, Serendip Guardians, addressed the gathering. She spoke about the psycho-social impact that a woman goes through and on the ‘gender based word,’ which she said was another form of discrimination. The issue of ‘gender based word’ discrimination: She pointed out that a female victim’s name is generally tagged while the perpetrator’s name is omitted. ‘As we live in a sexist society, and to address this issue we need to have a paradigm shift on how we use gender-based words,’ Ghose opined.

The policeman
Vanthunglo Murry, value foundation trainer at Livingstone Foundation Higher Secondary School in Dimapur spoke about an incident of harassment that she went through in the hands of Kohima police and some unidentified individuals. She recounted harassment by a policeman in Kohima who allegedly pulled her cheek while crossing road. She narrated that the policeman had showed no remorse when she warned him to drag him to the police station.

Surprisingly, Murry said, the policeman’s colleague who was on duty laughed at her with a comment: ‘ Women are not allowed to speak out of one’s own home so go home quietly.”
Murry asserted that change in culture can be brought when citizens resist and ‘say no’ to any form of violence against women.

An indispensable
Dr. M Sashi Jamir from the Oriental Theological Seminary explained that men need to get involved in the matter to bring change. He said violence against women was a sign of ‘human fallen-ness.’

“These issues are man-made, which was an obstruction of creation of God,” Jamir said.
Also, he was critical of women who expect their daughter-in-laws to be ‘sub-servants’ to their husbands. All these actions are because of the patriarchal system that the community was brought up from, and one which has been embedded into the society.

Theologically, Jamir advised to read the scriptures correctly as the church had authority in the Naga society. Scripture, he said, should transform any culture but the scripture is being misread. Jamir concluded that women issues are everyone’s issue for which men should get involved too to address the issue of violence against women.

Speakers and participants at the SRCW-organised International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women programme, on November 26.

State Resource Centre for Women
Elsewhere, the State Resource Centre for Women (SRCW) organized a programme on Nov. 26 also observing International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and to launch the 16-days of activism against gender-based violence. Updates on Monday informed that the event, in Kohima, was conducted with the theme “Orange the World:#HearMeToo.”

During the occasion, Daisy Mezhur, mission director of the SRCW, encouraged girls to be confident, and to remember that “together we are power.” She said women had moved from ‘welfare’ to ‘development’ and from it to ‘empowerment.’ She said that the 16 days of activism was being observed ‘because it is important to create awareness and encourage young minds to come together to eliminate violence.’

‘We should change the traditional mindset because it all begins with us, and to take a progressive stand, to come forward to be champions to eliminate violence in our society,’ Mezhur was stated to have told the programme. She talked also about the 181-women helpline and the Sakhi-One Stop Centre, which help women affected by violence in both public and private spaces.

In her keynote address, the chairperson of the Nagaland State Social Welfare Board (NSSWB), Bano Vinito, talked about the slogan. She explained that the event was designed by the United Nations as International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women. ‘This day is observed annually by likeminded organization, which signify that we are in solidarity with the cause and that we are committed to do our best to make our society a safer place for our women,’ Vinito said.

Further, Vinito encouraged girls to not be silent but to report all cases of violence. She pointed out how the #MeToo movement had now taken over social media, and how it was now a symbol of resistance against sexual harassment. ‘Our customary laws that do not give importance to women need to be updated. Violence against women by men at home or in the society is a clear demonstration of male superiority and dominance, which is a deliberate violation of God’s intention and creation,’ she said.

The winner for the ‘state theme song for women’ was officially declared during the event, the updates informed. It was informed that a song ‘Rise, Naga women,’ composed by Theyiesinuo Keditsu (music by Khyochano TCK, and Topeni as soloist) was chosen as the theme. Likewise, the winner for the #HearMeToo mobile photography competition was declared. Huntuntadbo bagged the first position followed by Wangpo and Saronthung Kikon in the second and third place, in that order.

By Mirror Desk Updated: Nov 27, 2018 12:38:25 am