A panel discussion was organised on ‘gender violence and responses of institutions of the state’ as part of ongoing webinar series in the memory of Girishbhai Patel, human rights activist and a lawyer who died on October 6, 2018 after a short illness.
Vibhuti Patel, professor in economics from Mumbai, while citing cases of violence against women stated that the lockdown have left women more vulnerable. “There was a rise in distress calls from adolescent girls during lockdown… The devilish aspect of the husbands or male members of the family also came to the fore. For instance, those who were drinking during weekends started drinking daily right from the early morning.”
Also, cases of cyber crime against women and sharing of pornographic messages also witnessed a spike during the lockdown, she added, stating that a lot of helplines in Maharashtra were launched for women during lockdown for their assistance.
Prita Jha, director, Peace and Equality Cell, spoke on criminal justice system. “Right from police not registering cases to poor investigation, women had to face all these legal challenges. Half of the cases are not investigated properly. The more vulnerable you are, the less likely your case will be investigated properly. Even the Supreme Court had noted that forensics where women had died were not done properly,” she stated.
While referring to the Hathras rape case, Jha said, “Cremation to destroy evidence is a new norm. Indian state can find ways to getting worse.”
Jharna Pathak, assistant professor Gujarat Institute of Development Research, said the way Hathras case proceeded and the narrative that was created seemed that they were trying to justify a gruesome rape.
Other speakers included Saroop Dhruv, activist, educator and poet, Mona Mehta, associate professor School of Arts and Sciences Ahmedabad University, Sheba George, founder SAHR, women’s action and resource unit and Renana Jhabvala, president SEWA Bharat.
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