At a time when the state police have been facing flak over atrocities against women, Kerala State Women's Commission chairperson designate P Satheedevi on Tuesday said not just the police but even judiciary needs effective gender sensitisation training to deal with women issues.
Police seemed to be discouraging women from going ahead with complaints and advised them for settlement in several cases while many court observations in connection with women issues were not found to be in accordance with the changing society and the mindset of the young generation, she noted.
"This shows that gender sensitivity training is inevitable. We have to impart our police force an effective training for gender sensitisation. Not just police, our judiciary also needs such training to address women's issues," she told PTI in an interview. Suggestions would be drawn up through coordinated consultation with all concerned persons and outfits and submitted before the government to make changes in this regard and impart necessary training for everyone dealing with the women related issues, the CPI-M leader said. Satheedevi would take charge as the seventh chairperson of the state Women's Commission on October 1.
The former Lok Sabha MP said there is no point in lamenting after a woman has suffered harassment. "What we need is to prevent such incidents in the society. We have to change the mindset of the society and instill confidence among women to make that a reality. I believe that a grassroot level mission, involving local self government bodies, can make effective changes in this regard," she said.
Detailing her plan, Satheedevi said vigilant committees would be strengthened at the ward level to make effective interventions at the micro level and a house-centered interference in each locality would be possible through this. Whenever a case of molestation or harassment is reported in the locality, the vigilant committee can come to know of it and the service of a lawyer, medical expert and a public servant can be made available to the victim at the earliest, she said. "A great change can be possible through the vigilant committees under the LSGD institutions, especially in cases like dowry harassment. The ward members and such grassroot level workers can come across such issues in their locality easily," the leader explained. Noting that a vigilant society and a confident women community are essential to weed out all kinds of atrocities against women, Satheedevi said effective interventions can be made through the educational institutions to instill confidence among women and create awareness among them about their rights.
The practice of viewing girl students as second grade persons inside classrooms should end, she said, adding that not the absence of stringent laws but the lack of it's effective implementation is the core reason for the recurring incidents of violence against women. "Laws are always strong. But, a system with a strong resolve to implement it is the need of the hour. If we could implement the laws in a stringent way, atrocities would not have recurred," Satheedevi, also the state secretary of the CPI(M)'s women wing, All India Democratic Women's Association, said. Unfortunately our women do not make use of the strength of such laws, she pointed out. Women are forced not to go ahead with the complaint due to the lack of support from the family, society and even law enforcers.
"Here comes the significance of gender sensitivity training. Our police force should get necessary training to address women's issues in a gender sensitive manner, she said. The approach of the judiciary should also be changed according to the changes in the mindset of the society, especially the young generation. "Some comments coming from the judiciary are not acceptable to the young generation. So, the judiciary also needs to get gender sensitivity training," the Marxist leader added. Asked about the recent criticism by CPI leader Annie Raja against Kerala police regarding atrocities against women, Satheedevi said her concerns were relevant as a "pro-women" approach was lacking from the side of the law enforcers on many occasions.
"But, we cannot generalise this.. these are isolated incidents only," she added. Putting the Left government in a fix, Raja, who is also general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women, had alleged that inaction of police was the reason for the increased incidents of atrocities against women in the southern state. Satheedevi also stressed the need for all women outfits to stand united, setting aside their political differences to protest denial of rights to women. "I would like to take together all those striving for the cause of women above politics.
An effective change can be made in the society through this," she added. Satheedevi succeeded M C Josephine as the new chief of Kerala State Women's Commission. The post had remained vacant for the last three months since Josephine had resigned on June 25. Josephine, a central committee member of the ruling CPI(M), had to quit the post after a controversy erupted in the state after she spoke harshly to a woman complainant of domestic violence during a live television programme of a Malayalam channel, causing embarrassment to the Marxist party.
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