West Bengal Women and Child Development Minister Dr Sashi Panja on Thursday said there should be well-drafted policies to handle situations involving gender violence. “We have been working together with organisations like Shakti Vahini, in challenging and very threatening fields like trafficking. We can speak about it, we can think of policies to handle such situations,” Panja said. She was speaking at a discussion “Empowering India’s youth to combat gender violence” at the American Center in Kolkata. It was organised by US Consulate Kolkata in collaboration with New Delhi based NGO ‘Shakti Vahini’.
“From my department, we can’t go and catch the culprits. There are police and administration involved,” the minister said and stressed on raising awareness among various sections of people to stop such acts. On fighting sexual and non-sexual violence, Panja said, “We celebrate various days like child rights day, women’s day and when you talk about gender issue, it implies women. Because it is always women and girls who suffer the most.” Hailing the presence of boys in the discussion, the minister said, “It is always necessary for the presence of other sex in such talks and I am happy with the way a boy from Jharkhand has pledged to spread the message of the workshop in his native place.”
There is a perception that a boy would be scoffed at for speaking against gender violence at a boys’ school, she said adding that “It is good that this mindset is changing.” Greg Pardo, Assistant Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate, said, “The meet was aimed at raising awareness through various media. It is nice to discover ways, to eliminate violence.” Sneha Harsh, one of the group leaders chosen from Lady Sri Ram College said, “How to empower other students and motivate others, that is very important for us.”
US Consul General Craig Hall said, “Working together to end all forms of gender-based violence is a crux of the partnership between US and India as enduring global partners.” “I had been fortunate to attend all three workshops hosted jointly by the US Consulate and Shakti Vahini earlier this year in Guwahati, Kolkata and Ranchi. To me they were great examples of how Indians and Americans can work together to change the world,” Hall said. The group leaders from colleges will now go to their respective institutions to spread awareness.