Change begins with TV

A TV channel in Northeast India kickstarts its year-long campaign to end violence against women

One of Northeast India’s news & current affairs channel – Frontier TV has launched a special media initiative to sensitize and create awareness about the growing menace of crime against women in the country. The television channel has started a year-long campaign across the eight Northeastern states.

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It was a day of reckoning for the people of the Northeast as state heads, government, social activists and general public came together in February to send out a clear and loud message to the country sensitizing and creating awareness to end the growing violence against women.

Politicians, activists, corporate leaders, civil – society members from across Northeast were in Guwahati to deliberate lectures on the issue on four key topics: Violence against Women: Role and responsibility of Government & Society, need for change in Mindset, need for stringent laws and sensitizing Mass through Media & Communication.

The idea was to give stakeholders a platform to deliberate, which was followed by drafting a proposal and a petition, which will get handed over to Governors and Chief Minister of Northeastern states and to the Prime Minister of India and other concerns.

India against Crime on Women, is a campaign conceptualized by Frontier TV, and an initiative to reach out to the masses with one message – stop violence against women.

Governor of Assam J B Patnaik, Governor of Nagaland Nikhil Kumar, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Former Assam Chief Minister, AGP President Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, MLAs, MPs and former MPs were among dignitaries who took the pledge to put an end to violence against women.

Frontier TV’s Editor-in-Chief Manoranjana Sinh called for change and urged everyone to make a difference by being the change themselves.

Speakers from across the Northeast signed the petition and took oath to support the cause – India Against Crime on Women.

Some of the eminent speakers were Binalakshmi Nepram, a noted writer-activist working towards a disarmament movement in India.

She spoke about how the gun survivor network was earlier dominated by men, and how women have started to make things change. “Talking of the national scene, violence against women has reached a level where enough is enough. Even in Assam, the track record is poor. Women of the Northeast are continuously subjected to assault and humiliation in different parts of the country. We cannot take it anymore. But take my word, this year 2013 will be a defining year for women, particularly women of the Northeast.’’

Jarjum Ete, Former Chairperson, Arunachal State Women Commission, spoke of the crime and atrocities meted out to women in Arunachal Pradesh. “Women hardly have a choice. As per tradition, women are wedded off early,’’ said Ete who pointed out that child marriage and forced marriage persists in Arunachal Pradesh.

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Others who spoke on the occasion were Jarpum Gamlin, who is CEO, Eastern Sentinel Group, Manipur social activist Nandini Thockchom, Agnes Kharshiing from Meghalaya, journalist and political commentator Neerja Chowdhury, social entrepreneur and North East Youth Foundation member Ranjan Baruah, Dr Nani Gopal Mahanta who is Head of the Department of Political Science, Guwahati University and Biswajit Ray who is President, All Koch-Rajbongshi Students’ Union. Dastak, a play was presented by Asmita Theatre group. The play highlights the heinous violence and harassment against women at working and public places.

Dastak talked about violence against women in public places. Why women feel unsafe in many public spaces, and at all times of the day and night. Cutting across class, profession, they face continuous and different forms of sexual harassment in crowded as well as secluded places, including public transport, cars, markets, roads, public toilets and parks.

School and college students are most vulnerable to harassment, particularly rampant in public transport, particularly buses.

Frontier TV officials say the year-long campaign on TV will travel across eight states of the Northeast, conduct street plays, group discussions and other programmes. It has appealed to leaders to take a stand for ending violence against women and girls.

Manoranjana Sinh, Editor-in-Chief, Frontier TV says, “The December gang rape and death of Delhi brave heart has shaken us all. Women feel unsafe. Women feel angry. We need to change. We can only make a difference by being the change ourselves. India is rising, the world is rising, against… crime on women. As a woman head of a TV channel, I have decided to highlight the issue in the northeast and all of India. We need to sensitize the society, the government and even the media.