Gender-based violence is deeply rooted in gender inequality: Soso Shaiza, advisor NCW

Ukhrul: Gender-based violence is a phenomenon deeply rooted in gender inequality and continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies. It is a violence directed against a person because of their gender. Both women and men experience gender-based violence but the majority of victims are women and girls.

Soso Shaiza, Advisor, National Commissioner for Women and former NCW member said this while speaking at the awareness programme on “gender based violence with special focus on the sexual harassment of women at workplace (prevention, prohibition and redressal) Act 2013 at DRDA hall, mini secretariat, Ukhrul on Tuesday.

The programme was organized by One Stop Centre, Ukhrul on Tuesday at DRDA hall, mini secretariat, Ukhrul.

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The programme is a part of 16-day activism against gender-based violence which is an annual campaign which begins on November 25 last and to conclude on December 10.

As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in the year 2021, approximately 4,28,278 cases involved crimes against women and girls. It’s a rise of 26.25% over six years. Majority of the cases related to cruelty by husbands and his relatives. Assaults on women to outrage her modesty, kidnapping and abduction, rape, dowry cases, human trafficking and cyber-crimes against women are increasing daily. “This is a matter of serious concern for all of us,” Shaiza said.

Efforts need to be made by all the government as well as civil societies, NGOs and all citizens to reverse this trend and make our country a better and safer place for women and girls to grow and prosper.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013 was enacted to provide safe and secure environment to women at workplace.

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It covers all women, irrespective of their age nor employment status and protects them against sexual harassment at all workplace, both in public and private sector, whether organized or unorganised.

The domestic workers are also included under the ambit of the Act.

Subsequent to the comprehensive amendments Act of 2013, another amendment made in Criminal Law Act of 2018, even more stringent penal provisions have been prescribed for the offences committed to women and girls and also for the swift administration of justice.

Under Section 4 of the said Act, the employer or the head of every organization or office both Govt. & Private having more than ten staff is ought to set up an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) to address the complaints of sexual harassment and assist the victim to protect their dignity at workplace.

The Act gives the ICC the power of a Civil Court and thus, it acts as a quasi-judicial body (empowered to summon or enforce the attendance of any person). It is mandatory and non-formation of ICC can attract a penal liability for the employer or the head of office.

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In the last five to six years the Central Government have prioritised the safety of women in the country. This is the first time in the history of our great country that the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) have taken up so much schemes/programmes for achieving gender equality and emancipation of women across the country, she continued.

‘Sakhi’- ‘One Stop Centre’ is one of such programme launched on April 15, 2015. Under 15th Finance Commission now OSC is under Mission Sakhi’s sub-scheme ‘Sambal’ from July 14, 2022. It is 100% funded by Ministry of WCD under Nirbhaya Fund and send directly to district administrations.

It is quite heartening to witness “Sexual Harassment” in workplaces to women and girls in our State too. During my tenure as Member of National Commission for Women (new), I initiated the enquiry of 6-7 cases in Manipur in one year. Complaints received were immediately taken, and within a week justice were delivered, she informed.

In NCW, 20% of complaints are of sexual harassment workplace.

Shaiza then appeal to one and every citizen of India to stop violence against women by respecting each other. “Let us remember that women’s rights is human rights and no one has the authority to
violate human rights.

Chonchuirinmayo Luithui, Administrator, Once Stop Centre, Ukhrul district announced the keynote address.

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Addressing the public, Nandini Thokchom who attended as resource person lamented that no positive changes is seen in the violence against women.

Thokchom who is a resource person for Manipur rural livelihood mission and human rights defenders, indigenous perspective, said that this is a time to talk about survival stories of the victims but we are still far behind.

Nandini Thokchom , who had work in the women activism field for over 20 years urged parents to educate their children more about welcome and unwelcome touch.

In his speech, Krishna Kumar, deputy commissioner, Ukhrul called on the people of Ukhrul district to empathise the victims. “To respect and protect our sisters and mothers should be our utmost responsibility.” Rasksha bandhan and Ningol Chakaoba” festival signified true sense of respect and love towards our sisters, he asserted.

Ningshen Vashum, SP Ukhrul and Rohini Kumar, SDO LM block gave overview on sexual harassment with special focus on prevention, prohibition and redressal Act 2013 provisions.

The duo also urged to promptly report any harassment cases to the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC).

SP Ukhrul then urged to organise more such awareness programme and strengthen women folks reasoning the relevance of spreading awareness in a male dominated society like ours.

The day-long awareness programme end with interaction with the audience.

One Stop Centre, Ukhrul district provides rescue and referral services when required. It also referred women affected by violence to the nearest hospital for medical aid and facilitate lodging of FIR, NCR and DIR.

The centre also provides psycho-social counseling.

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