The Women Development Cell of Shivaji College, Delhi organized a Legal RoundTable discussion on the rising topic, “Sexual Violence in public places” in association with Safecity and She the people TV on 24th Aug 2017. The panel included Mr. Manu Yadav, Advocate at Supreme Court of India; Ms. Ritu Priya, Programme Manager at Hans Siedel foundation; and Ms. Rachel Bali, Founder of Kranti Kali and the lead organizer of the #WillGoOut Movement. The round table discussion was moderated by Ms. Rahat Sharma, a lawyer by profession.
The discussion started with Mr. Yadav’s elaborated views on the legal aspects of sexual harassment at workplaces by mentioning about changes in the respective laws. He informed everyone about the different aspects of the Indian Penal Code concerning the topic. Prevention of Sexual Violence at Workplace Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act were also dealt with along with their consequences. On being humbly asked by Ms. Sharma, Mr. Yadav revealed the legal complexities of reporting a case of sexual Harassment. He guided the audience by informing them that intimate partner violence is a crime and should be reported.
Ms. Bali, when asked, reflected prominence upon the role of youth in such matters. She imparted awareness on the Pinjra tod Movement in the University areas of Delhi and beyond and the #WillGoOut Movement, a youth driven initiative. Also, she opined that social media has great significance in issues of Gender Sensitization. Ms. Bali surmised that the educational institutions play a major role in spreading awareness about Gender Equality. She answered positively when Ms. Sharma asked her whether cyber space should be considered as being under the blanket of private space and also added her own perspectives regarding it. Ms. Bali, not only encouraged the youth to have an active voice in combating sexual violence but also informed them about the different solutions available to them.
Views on the role of educational institutions in helping banish sexual violence were also expressed by Ms. Priya. She was of the opinion that parents had many misconceptions about educational institutions. She apprised the audience about the University Grants Commission report after the 2012 December gang rape case and her disappointment regarding people’s reactions to gender sensitization. Ms. Priya affirmed Ms. Sharma’s thought that educational institutions play a major role in building the rape culture and backed her opinion with day-to-day facts and happenings.
The end of the panel discussion opened the floor to questions from the audience. Mr. Yadav gave a negative response with valid justification when asked if it would be practical to have an open court for all the cases of Sexual Harassment followed by examples proving that some laws are gender neutral and some entirely focus on women. He mentored about the possibilities through which a common man could approach a Magistrate. When asked, Ms. Bali assented that cyber space was not only a mirror but also a magnifying glass for our private lives. She also had compelling ideas regarding Feminism.
The overall discussion was quite informative and an exchange of knowledge took place, thus making it beneficial for the audience. The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness as awareness precedes choice and thus results. Awareness is the initiative one has to adopt for change and this discussion, without a doubt, has sown its seeds.