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Every woman who knocks for justice will be heard

Every woman who knocks for justice will be heard
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Women, you are Shakti, you know how to fight your way. We are here to support you: Tripurana Venkataratnam After six years of dysfunctioning,...

Women, you are Shakti, you know how to fight your way. We are here to support you: Tripurana Venkataratnam After six years of dysfunctioning, the organisation is made to function; it was shut down on a bad note. You have an added responsibility. How do you plan that? What special measures or planning are being done? The past will not cast its shadow on the present. We are working afresh and have great plans for the future. Foremost would be a 24x7 helpline for women. Women will feel secured with this helpline especially in the night. I had invited all the women's activists to work as a common forum, under a single umbrella. Whatever be the party, the goal is common, women's rights and protection to the weaker sex. We have requested the government for a budget and once that is allocated we will give a better infrastructure and add more employees with better facilities. Special women police stations staffed with multi-disciplinary female teams equipped to respond to the different needs of the victims, have to be set up. Our plan of action includes: To make police stations accessible for women; Judiciary must become more gender sensitive; curriculum that teaches non-violence, human rights and gender issues should be included in elementary and secondary school, universities; the judiciary must make law enforcing agencies strongly accountable; the police must be well positioned to reinforce the message that violence against women is a serious crime and the abuser will be held responsible; NGOs like women's organisations which work in partnership with government must be promoted because they provide education and awareness programmes; the range of their services must be strengthened
You were an MLA from TDP (1993) and moved to the Congress. Why?
Originally I was a Congress member and a minister in the Nadendla Bhaskar Rao government. Congress wanted my services and they were having bigger plans for the uplift of women. My goal was to work towards women's causes, hence the shift. Women in our country accept domestic violence in the interest of children, parents, financial dependence and vulnerability and insecurity from society. Do you feel this is justified? What's your message to this section of women? Violence against women is the most pervasive expression of gender-based discrimination. Violence against women is not a new phenomenon. Women have to bear the brunt of domestic, public, physical as well as emotional and mental violence against them, which affect her status in the society at the larger extent. The statistics of increasing crimes against women is shocking; where women are subjected to violent attacks i.e. foeticide, infanticide, medical neglect, child marriages, bride burning, sexual abuse of girl child, forced marriages, rapes, prostitution, sexual harassment at home as well as work places etc. Violence against women and girls in India manifests itself in numerous ways; these include domestic violence, caste-based discrimination, dowry-related deaths, witch-hunting, sexual violence, conflict-related sexual violence, and forced marriages. In the last two decades, the Indian women's movement has contributed to a growing public awareness of violence against women. Domestic violence is entrenched not only in the urban areas but in rural areas as well. Dowry acceptance is also considered a form of violence.
Can extra-marital affair be a part of mental domestic violence?
The terminology of extra marital is value-laden and moral. The understanding of extra- marital affair is required in order to label it under domestic violence. Every relationship has to be assessed on the basis of its own merit. Your comment on roadside sexual harassment? Virtually every woman has experienced street harassment - whistles, sexual remarks, or touching by strangers in public places. Women also confront with unwanted sexual advances at work or school. It is an abuse of power, the social and economic power that men hold over women. When men use their power to treat women sexually in a non-sexual context, they interfere with women's right to work, to learn, to walk on the street without fear, and to be treated as equal and respected participants in public life A survey carried out among men and women using public transport in the last week of 2012 found 78% of women had been sexually harassed in the past year. Of these, over 90% reported lewd comments and whistling; 69% reported groping and 69% reported forcible assault. Some 56% men believed that women had to learn to tolerate some level of sexual harassment. Almost an equal number of women and men said men engaged in sexual harassment to feel powerful (40% and 44% respectively) but while 35% of women believed they did it to show off in front of their friends, only 18% of men agreed with this statement and while 18% of women believed men 'did it for fun', 30% of men agreed with this. Finally, 59% of men but just 14% of women agreed that 'most women invite harassment because of the way they dress and behave. Women should speak out; raise the issue of harassment in their workplace or institution or during commuting. Their silence results in more such harassments.
The family of the husband who victimises the wife and harasses her supports him, especially the women. It's surprising how a woman can see any other woman being harassed and not correcting her son/brother?
Domestic violence has become a very common in the Indian society. Despite having strict laws, these kind of things are flourishing. There are a number of causes for domestic violence. If we look at these matters through feministic eyes, it happens because of the patriarchal set-up of the Indian society. Others believe that it occurs because of biased distribution of power that runs the Indian civilization. We are still a male dominated society. The other women of the family should support the victim but they don't. In fact, they add up to the torture. Society needs a change in mindset. We need to educate families not to support the male who abuses but the victim. Media has a great role to play. I also wanted to start a compulsory training class in every degree college were the victim needs to know her rights and she be made strong to fight back. Change starts with you, with your family. If you change your mindset and attitude, and every member of your family did the same, this world will no longer have women who are treated as a sexual commodity to be harassed, tortured, raped, humiliated or killed.
Will every women who knocks for justice be heard or is it that the Commission is for the rich, influential or you will take up cases being talked of with the media?
I am a woman too and I can understand the pain of abuse, separation. I had been a social worker, an activist. I started moving with my father, a social worker and politician, at the tender age of 6.I was a students union leader. I have read the system, understood and experienced. I will do my best to get justice to every woman who knocks at our door.
You have no power to arrest or remand an individual; do you think this Commission will receive its due?
We have the same powers as that of a civil court. We can summon individuals and police officers. Any proceeding before the Commission shall be deemed to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of the Indian Penal Code and the Commission shall be deemed to be a court for the purpose of section 195 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.We will request the government and judiciary for fast track courts. We will see to it that justice is got within three months so that the victim doesn't fall prey to more problems as she is vulnerable to torture and harassment by other men in the society. Generally the husband deserts the woman after a case under 498A is registered or any time of his choice. Husband leaves the wife and children to live with another woman. If the woman is not financially independent do you have a budget for the victim and her children? No we do not have but we are planning a shelter home in the same premises. We will also try securing some job for this victim and also have a cr�che for the children below seven years. We will try giving support through whatever channels and we will also discuss with the other departments and work in coordination.
About yourself, family and hobbies
I have completed my post-graduation from Andhra University. My MPhil and PhD from JNU.I did LLB and practices in the High Court and am a Bar Council member of the Supreme Court. My husband B Ramesh is a business man and my son Rakesh has completed his engineering. For me, the definition of a successful woman is about how she feels about herself, and whether she's living up to her own potential. And finally, her advice to women: You are Shakti, you know how to fight your way. We are here to support you
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