Several people, including women, men, senior citizens, students and all stakeholders took out a peaceful rally against the increasing cases of violence against women and children in Thoubal district on Friday.
The rally under the theme ‘Ensure protection of women and children's peace and security’ was organised by Women in Governance Thoubal in collaboration with Childline Thoubal, Childline Bishnupur, Childine Kakching, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, Ningol Club, Heirok, Rural Voluntary Services, Wangbal and several child activist groups.
The rally, which was followed by a district level consultation on gender based violence, was flagged off by MCPCR member Kh Jitendra from BASU Ground Khangabok.
Several women including the elderly ones, parents, teenage girls and boys, students and many stakeholders took part in the rally.
They were seen holding placards which read, ‘stop violence against women and children’, ‘Remove Gender in Equality’, ‘Rape is not sex, rape is violence’, ‘stop rape’, ‘Girls aren't toys’, etc.
After reaching Thoubal market, the rally assembled at Thoubal Melaground community hall, after which a district level consultation on gender based violence was conducted there.
Addressing the gathering, convenor, WiNG Manipur Nonibala Narengbam said that gender-based violence is a human rights violation.
Freedom from violence is a fundamental human right, and gender-based violence undermines a person's sense of self-worth and self-esteem, she said. It affects not only physical health but also mental health and may lead to self harm, isolation, depression and suicidal attempts, she added.
Nonibala, who is also a woman rights activist, continued that sexual violence against children is a gross violation of children's rights. Children become the end receiver of violence in the form of sexual abuse, harassment, rape or sexual exploitation in prostitution or pornography, and it is happening in homes, institutions, schools, workplaces, in travel, within the communities, within the family, she maintained.
She further said that in every one hour, three women are raped in India. Today, women and children have become more insecure in private spaces. They become more vulnerable with their near and dear ones, she added.
“Today, our own relatives, near and dear ones are becoming the perpetrators. The fabric of family is breaking; dominance, resistance, and others have become part of our everyday life,” she said.
Children raised in families where a woman is abused are also victims of violence, sometimes not physically, but always psychologically, she said.
Children who witnessed violence in the family started to justify or normalise violence. Children who grew up in such a context and culture started to have negative behaviour and attitude towards the society. Growth for self-development and ability to function in society becomes difficult, she said.
Nonibala also said that though Manipuri women are glorified for their contributions in various sections, they still remain recipients of different forms of violence. As per National Family Health Survey 2019-20, women of Manipur remain the highest receiver of violence, she said.
Gender-based violence is under-reported and there is often impunity for perpetrators. “Most of us believe that what happens at home should stay at home or that it is nobody's business what happens in the family. It is a family problem or community issue, however unreported and unaddressed, gender based violence affects individuals, family, community and society at large," she said.
Today, she said, in Thoubal district alone, there are 55 numbers of registered POCSO cases. Their near and dear ones and people whom they know are the perpetrators, she maintained.
Society still continues to blame the victims; give sexist remarks, and ultimately comes back to square one, she further said, adding the accused are set free because of many reasons.
Despite having enough laws and acts in the county, the majority of the victims are scared of reporting because of the apprehension whether they will get justice or not. Mothers are not unable to get custody for their own children while women and girls are becoming victims of cyber crime, she lamented.
MCPCR member Kh Jitendra and chairperson, CWC Thoubal L Romen Meitei attended the event as presidium members.