Sumati Thusoo is a Program and Outreach Officer with Safecity. She is responsible for engaging with the communities and establishing and maintaining partnerships with NGOs and colleges, conducting workshops with colleges and raising awareness regarding sexual violence and providing input for developing appropriate training programmes. She has an M.A. in Women Centred Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and a Bachelors in Economics from Delhi University. Her past work has focused on the effects of conflict on access and mobility of women, and her thesis looked at the experiences of Kashmiri women with conflict.
Awareness Workshop with Health Workers
Safecity conducted an awareness workshop on Laws pertaining to Sexual harassment with 40 health workers associated with CSSC on 21st December, 2016. This workshop touched upon some very serious offences such as Sexual harassment at Workplace and Child Sexual Abuse.
The health workers who participated in this workshop have been associated with the Centre for the Study of Social Change (CSSC) for more than 20-30 years and were extremely enthusiastic and vocal about their opinions on topics which are otherwise considered taboo.
In this workshop, we witnessed so many different opinions that were being brought in by the participants, given their many years of experience working in their respective communities. For example, when we spoke about sexual harassment, one of the participants said that when wives say that they are tired and they don’t want to have sexual intercourse with their husbands, some husbands force themselves on their wives and that, too, is also a kind of sexual harassment. Since we have no laws pertaining to marital sexual violence yet, these are some of those difficult questions that we, as a society, need to come together and pose to our lawmakers. Similarly, there was another participant who said that her children were taught about good touch and bad touch in their school and how it corrupts the concept of love from their elders. This proved to be one of the grey areas where we need to address the process of socialisation.
One of the recurring themes throughout the workshop was about the hostility of policemen. Many participants said that though they had been to police stations time and again to complain about such incidents their efforts have been to no avail. They talked about the corruption that exists in the police structure where the police take money from the culprits and set them free if at all the residents register the complaint.
This workshop was just the first step. In the following days we will get associated with these health workers and work in their communities where we can engage in many more conversations. It is also important to address the concerns that were raised by facilitating ways in which the communities get to know their police officials better which, in turn, increases the structural accountability.