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Ending Gender Based Violence: Collaborative Efforts And Future Pathways – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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Ending Gender Based Violence: Collaborative Efforts and Future Pathways

Session Report
Sameeran Galagali

The IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi held a four week online immersive certificate course on Ending Gender-Based Violence- Cohort 2: Awareness of Policies and Governance from March 5 to March 27, 2024 by the IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Centre.

27th of March marked the closing and valedictory session of the 24-session long course which spanned across 8 days. The course aimed at providing participants a comprehensive understanding of the complexities of gendered violence through varied lenses and expert talks and discussions covering areas such as governance, law, public policy, medical and forensic fields, psychology and trauma, theory and praxis of women’s movements and feminism and so on. Rigorous discussions on these crucial fields provided participants not only a picture of the state of gender-based violence in the country, but also provided them a pathway to the future actions in the field.

The Day 8 marked the closing and valedictory session, and the resource person for the day was Mr. Harish Sadani, co-founder and executive director of Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA), a Mumbai based men’s organisation working for the cause of ending gendered violence against women.

The final valedictory session ran through the chair, Prof. Vibhuti Patel’s opening remarks, Mr. Sadani’s valedictory note, interaction with participants, feedback session by participants, and the chair’s closing remarks.

Chair’s opening remarks:

The chair for the session, Prof. Vibhuti Patel mentioned at the onset that the day would focus on lamenting upon the future actions in the direction towards dealing with gender-based violence. She also shed light upon what all had been covered in the 7 days thus far.

Prof. Patel gave a vivid description of the pathway of the course; beginning with understanding the historical context of the women’s movements in India mostly in the post 1977 period; role of policy in addressing gender-based violence; policy and legislation, and also global competence related to gender-based violence, role of governance structures and corresponding strategies and analysis of crucial acts and government schemes; medical evidences and burden of proof in rape and sexual assault cases; trauma and psychological dimensions of rape victims; gendered violence and the LGBTQIA+ movements; role of women’s rights movements and contextualizing gendered violence in Indian realities; and understanding and working upon collaborative approach for coordinated response towards ending gender-based violence.

She also mentioned the crucial areas covered during the Legal Hands-on Sessions conducted by Adv Dr. Shalu Nigam such as understanding recent judgements in the sexual violence cases, concept of consent in sexual violence, safety of women at homes and domestic violence, and understanding important legal aspects such as cyber crime in light of gendered violence.

Mr. Harish Sadani’s valedictory note on Gender Equality and Gender Based Violence:

Mr. Sadani delivered a session on ‘Empowering Youth in the Community through innovative methods for Gender Equality’. He started off by defining gender, and created the floor for further discussion by stating that Gender is a social construct which refers to ideas, roles, and norms associated with being a man or a woman. This social construct is shaped by 5 subsystems, namely family, religion, education, governance, and media. These five subsystems or pillars are the base for the larger superstructure of patriarchy, which is the root cause of gender-based violence. Mr. Sadani demonstrated his argument through the illustration of a five layered pyramidical structure showing the levels of gendered discrimination that function in the society:

Murder
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Rape/Sexual Assault
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Threat of Harassment and Verbal Abuse
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Imposition of traditional and rigid gender roles and stereotypes
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Casual sexist/homophobic/transphobic comments & objectification

He emphatically noted that the top layers covering issues like murder and rape/sexual assault are the most talked about, but the bottom layers of discrimination such as verbal threat, imposition of rigid gender roles, and sexist/homophobic/transphobic casual comments and objectification are not talked about much. There is a need to bring the bottom layers in the discourses on gendered violence, since they function as foundational causes in the whole issue of gendered violence. He therefore argues that not men, but the patriarchal attitude is the root cause of gendered violence against women. He thus called for an attitudinal change amongst both, men and women.

Through these illustrations and arguments, Mr. Sadani made an important point that feminism as a movement is an egalitarian, focusing on achieving a gender just and pluralist society. Through a logical deduction, he made a point that why is it necessary to include men and boys in the fight against gendered violence. He said that the attitudes of men are the problem, and thus men should be also a part of the solution. Not including men and boys in the feminist movement will not provide a holistic solution to the bigger problem.

He cited four reasons as to why men and boys must be a part of tackling the issue of gendered violence against women. Through the reasons, he tried to make a point that patriarchal mindsets affect not only women, but also have daunting effects on the emotional quotient of men and boys; that it is necessary to include men in the discourse because balance of power demands both the parties to be on the dialogue table; that involving non-violent and non-aggressive men is a necessity. He thus tried to provide a holistic analysis and approach towards dealing with the problem of gendered violence by trying to address the fundamental issue of patriarchal attitudes.

He also provided a vivid account of the work that his organisation Men Against Violence and Abuse MAVA has been carrying out since 1991, its year of inception in the field of gendered violence. He mentioned that MAVA functions on the levels of Preventive Level and Curative Level in dealing with gendered violence. He also emphasized that counselling of men in this sector is extremely important, and that MAVA tries to carry out the intended outcome through various means such as cultural advocacy through theatres, folk screenings, film festivals, and by initiating dialogues through screenings and talks and the annual magazine of MAVA named Purush Spandana.

He also mentioned that the impact of the work done by MAVA was taken cognizance of by the Harvard University’s South Asia Institute.

Interaction with the chair and participants:

After the vivid deliberation, Mr. Sadani had rigorous and extensive discussion with Prof. Patel on various aspects of the work done by MAVA such as understanding the tools incorporated by them in order to initiate the dialogue; how the organisation has been collaborating with the schools in order to impart the values of gender sensitivity in the formative years of kids; imparting gender sensitivity among men through Purush Spandana; their work with policemen and prisoners.

They also elaborated on the necessity to include masculinity studies in the mainstream academia focusing on gender studies, as well as taking into cognizance the simultaneous discriminations such as religion, caste, class along with gender in order to provide a holistic and comprehensive approach in dealing with gendered violence against women.

Additionally, during the interaction with the participants, the cohort came to a consensus that it is necessary to initiate and indulge men and boys into dialogue in this field; that in order to achieve the balance of power it is necessary to see men as collaborators and allies in the fight against gendered violence; and that a continual and consistent effort is necessary to achieve the end of attitudinal change in order to attain a gender just society.

Mr. Sadani also had a very detailed discussion with Adv Dr. Shalu Nigam, the convener of the programme on the issue of gender-neutral laws. The discussion shed light on the current discourses on gender-neutral laws in light of the existing social context, status of women in all strata, and the readiness of our systems and structures to adopt gender-neutral laws.

Participants’ Feedbacks:

After the exhaustive and rigorous session by Mr. Harish Sadani, the floor was open for the participants to share their thoughts on the overall programme. The participants shared insightful thoughts and feedbacks that the course covered crucial areas of gender studies and provided a holistic and comprehensive approach; that the course came to be a platform to ideate and acquire newer concepts and determine the future path hereto.

Closing remarks by Adv Dr. Shalu Nigam and Prof. Vibhuti Patel:

Adv Dr. Shalu Nigam commented that the programme encompassed of rigorous cross-disciplinary approach in the area of gendered violence. She also emphasized that ending gendered violence demands continual, collaborative and consistent efforts. More importantly, that ending gendered violence requires solidarity across social and political boundaries.

Prof. Vibhuti Patel in her closing remarks highlighted that how the different generations of feminist movements work simultaneously. She emphasized on the effectivity of the Legal Hands-on Sessions conducted by Adv Dr. Shalu Nigam. She also reiterated on the need for continual and collaborative efforts in the direction of achieving the goal of ending gender-based violence and achieving a gender just society. Finally, Prof. Patel concluded with the lines from IPTA on ending gender-based violence.

Acknowledgement: This article was published by Sameeran Galagali, a Research Intern at IMPRI.

Read more event reports:

Legal Hands on Session VI – Human Rights and the Challenges of Building a Welfare State in India

Beyond Binaries: A Deep Dive into Tackling Sexual Harassment Through POSH Policies

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