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Call to Action

March 28, 2015

28th March 2015 saw a huge convergence of the Roman Catholic community, the students and exstudents of the  Convent of Jesus and Mary who  met on the grounds of Holy Name Cathedral, Fort Mumbai, to deliberate on the growing violence against the lives of women in India in view of the recent rape of a 71 year old nun at Ranghat, Convent of Jesus and Mary, Nadia District, 80 kilometers from Kolkata city, West Bengal.

The meeting was presided by His Eminence Cardinal Garcious. His Lordship Bishop Savio flagged of the meeting with a call to prayer by reading the Beatitudes from the Holy Bible (Matt 5: 1-12). His Eminence Cardinal strongly stated that the Christian community is hurt sad and most importantly embarrassed by the heinous crimes against women where senior women and defenceless children are being targeted along with young women. These are disgraceful occurrences and have grown in numbers. It is particularly disgraceful when The Cardinal who represents India at The Vatican is questioned about the sexual violence against women in India.

Screening of the film Daughters of Mother India by filmmaker Vibha Bakshi,   a filmmaker's journey through the aftermath of the horrific rape and murder of a 23 year old medical intern in Delhi on 16th December 2012. The film highlighted the mass protests that  filled the streets of India and the country witnessed 'gender consciousness' and extraordinary solidarity by the ordinary citizens - like never before. This documentary explored the inner dynamics of  the Indian society, the Government and looked at the swift and radical changes made in the Police, the Judiciary and community groups, who provoked for the first time, a national dialogue on the current sexist attitudes of Indian society and how to change them. For the first time, in the long history of the Police force, the Police Commissioner of the Capital of India, Delhi granted permission for a camera to be allowed inside the Delhi Police Control and Command room.

 Vibha Bakshi  said - I began searching for answers for my own gender . The film also covered the case of  five year old rape survivor Gudiya and her courageous  family, the fact that they dared to be filmed despite their vulnerability reflected their conviction to stand up for change. Other  prominent citizens  featured in the film were  Additional Solicitor General Supreme Court - Ms Indira Jaising, Member of the Anti Rape Recommendation Committee - Justice Leila Seth,Commissioner of Police, Delhi - Mr Neeraj Kumar,Head of Delhi Police Unit for Women and Children - Ms Suman Nalwa, Commissioner of Police Law and Order, Delhi - Mr Deepak Mishra, Head of Delhi Police Control and Command Room - Mr Paldan, Sociologist and Professor - Dr Dipankar Gupta,Activist - Dr Kiran Bedi,Principal of Sanskriti School - Dr Abha Sahgal, Social Analyst - Dr Syed Mubin Zehra, Activist and Founder of Asmita Theatre Group - Mr Arvind Gaur,Police Officers from Delhi Police, Students from Jawaharlal Nehru University Faculty and Students of Sanskriti School and Dramatists of Asmita Theatre Group People of Delhi.

Ms Flavia Agnes, a survivor of Domestic Violence, Lawyer, Women’s Social Activist and Founder Majlis spoke of the Indian law which was expanded in 2013 to encompass many other sexual acts without the consent or will of the woman which would constitute the offence of rape. Certain changes has been introduced in the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and Indian Evidence Act, like the recording of statement of the victim has been made more friendly and easy. However the law enforcing agencies like the Policemen and women and all implementing machinery need to be sensitised on the trauma faced by victims of Sexual violence. Ms Agnes further highlighted  about the mindless crimes against defenceless children and teenaged girls by their family members, neighbours, school teachers and caregivers. Girls seldom step forward to complaint as they fear the stigma attached and most often the sex offenders goes scot free by the law and inaction by families, this inaction helps perpetrators of sex crimes, to continue their sexual assaults on unsuspecting victims.

A 5 point agenda was put forth by Ms Agnes,

Mass sensitising process for law makers and enforcers

Family support

Rehabilitation Measures to restore, the rape survivors back to mainstream.

Effectiveness of the law

Empowerment to the women through skill development and formal education.

 

The Call to Action concluded with a Pledge to support the Cause of Women. The movement for change has began - a movement that will restore respect, accountability, justice, peaceful co-existence and the right to human dignity. This meeting was an initiative of the ex-students of the Convent of Jesus and Mary,  a pledge change for the dignity and security of the women in India was well attended by a host of dignitaries: Film Actor and ex student Juhi  Chawla Mehta, Raell Padamsee. After a rousing live performance of a hymn a message from his Eminence and a prayer by Bishop Savio and the Principal of Convent of Jesus and Mary, Sr Arinna .


 



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