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Monday, October 18, 2021

UK diplomat’s message to her assailant: Pledge that you will educate your kids better

Like many women in the UK, India and around the world, I’m sickened, saddened and shocked when I read reports of abduction, violence, and rape.

Chandigarh |
Updated: October 10, 2021 12:20:35 pm
The UK along with support from the Government of India is also working with over 100 partners on Pledge for Progress, a joint initiative which aims to take practical steps to tackle gender challenges and promote gender equality.

(Written by Caroline Rowett)

I enjoy my early morning walks in the ‘City Beautiful’. It’s a time to reflect on what happened and look forward.

A time to plan my meals for the day (dal makhni or paneer lababdar). Sometimes I start planning my next trip to explore India. But my peaceful reflections were shattered recently when, as I was walking, I was hit forcefully and deliberately on the back by a motorcyclist who sped away into the darkness. I was left bruised and angry. What gives a man the right to hit an elderly, grey-haired woman as she quietly walks along the street early one morning? What sort of threat did she pose to him?

Like many women in the UK, India and around the world, I’m sickened, saddened and shocked when I read reports of abduction, violence, and rape. More often than not, women are the victims, yet we are often told that it was our fault, we wore the wrong clothes, walked in the wrong place at the wrong time. The onus should not be on women to keep themselves safe. Instead, the focus should be on tackling violence against women and together finding solutions to this shared challenge.

Chandigarh is a beautiful city and a Smart City. It also aspires to be an equal, just and fair city. It has always been a positive role model for others in so many ways, it is fitting that it should also aspire to be a city free of violence against women and girls.

In 2019 the British Deputy High Commission in Chandigarh supported the work of the Centre for Women’s Studies and Development, Panjab University, to produce an action plan to make Chandigarh a Safe and Violence Free City for Women and Girls.

The UK along with support from the Government of India is also working with over 100 partners on Pledge for Progress, a joint initiative which aims to take practical steps to tackle gender challenges and promote gender equality.

In the coming weeks I am looking forward to meeting the newly appointed Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and DGP Chandigarh Praveen Ranjan and seeing how we can work together to support implementation of the Action Plan.

And finally, a message to my assailant. I want you to pledge that you will educate your children to behave better. Tell your sons that violence against women is never acceptable. Tell your daughters that their lives have value; that they are equal to men.

(Caroline Rowett is the British Deputy High Commissioner in Chandigarh. On October 8, Chandigarh Police arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with the assault on the writer. Police said he had molested another woman in the city on June 10 and a case had been registered then as well.)

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