A three-day Training cum Learning Workshop titled Creative Dialogues on Violence Prevention, was concluded with a focus on Gender Equity and Violence Prevention held from 24-26 November 2015 in New Delhi. This workshop marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November) working in solidarity with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (25 November-10 December). The objective of the workshop was to create an interactive, collaborative and transformative space that enables conscientization and capacity building for gender equity and justice. The workshop introduced participants to inclusive and innovative methods for preventing and ending gender based violence (especially violence against women and girls) inviting them to reconsider gender relations—whether in the context of the home, the school, or the public space—foregrounding the values of nonviolence, mutual respect, equity, partnership, and pluralism.
The workshop strove to bring public attention on and build a better understanding of the continuum of gender inequality to gender-based violence and its deep impact on young people. This includes identifying the different forms and manifestations of violence not just in terms of physical violence but also the violence of discrimination, inequity, poverty and marginalization, the violence of social customs and rituals. Today, there is increasing acknowledgment about the need to have expansive and expanded conversations on gender-based violence. For this to happen it is important to help boys and men challenge hegemonic and macho masculinities (which emanate from belief systems rooted in patriarchy) and to consider replacing these with notions of manhood that are based on positive, nonviolent, and inclusive masculinities, which respect women and see them as equal partners, not inferior adversaries.
The recent spate of brutal incidents of sexual assault against girls, some as young as 4-5 years, in the National Capital Region (NCR) has reignited public discussion on the interplay of various factors that make sexual assault and other forms of violence against women (VAW) endemic in north India. The issue of VAW has occupied considerable media space and indeed policy attention since the horrific rape and murder of Nirbhaya. The public outcry against the incident led to the constitution of the Justice Verma Committee and fast-tracking of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013 and The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013. However, WISCOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace) believes that while progressive and liberating national legislation and executive implementation are extremely important for women’s access to equal rights and creating a gender just polity, crimes against women and levels of violence will not abate if the beliefs and attitudes of the average Indian do not undergo a radical change on this subject. There is a need to aspire for ‘zero tolerance’ of violence against women by the society at large, and men in particular.