Only 30% of the 1300 crore Nirbhaya Fund has been utilised: Virendra Sehwag at FOGSI conclave

Only 30% of the 1300 crore Nirbhaya Fund has been utilised: Virendra Sehwag at FOGSI conclave

By resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) , and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem on that day.

"Sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination. Let us not forget that the gender inequalities that fuel rape culture are essentially a question of power imbalances." — UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

To commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and girls, on 22nd November 2020, FOGSI (Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India), the representative organisation of the practitioners of Obstetrics and Gynaecology all over India, organised a special E-conclave for the Prevention and Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG). The work of FOGSI spans almost 50% population of India from adolescent, teenage, reproductive age, menopause to geriatric age and hence this E-conclave is significant for its constituents.

Titled #SayNotoVAWG, the whole day program aims to spread awareness against this social phenomenon. FOGSI has tied up with UNICEF, Indian Academy of paediatricians, Indian Psychiatric Society (IPS) and The Association of Surgeons of India in order to take the message to as many citizens as possible.

Experts from different fields such as  Smt. Sumitra Mahajan (Former speaker, Loksabha), Laxmi Agarwal (Survivor, acid attack), Famous RJ Devaki, Rekha Sharma (Chairperson, National Women’s Commission), Sutapa Sanyal (Retd. IPS, DG from UP), Anuradha Kapoor (Founder of NGO Swayam), Amodh Kant (Retd IPS-DGP), Preeti Patkar (Founder NGO Prerna) spoke at the conclave. Actor Sharmila Tagore and swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag also lent their support. Torrent Pharma Limited was the scientific partner to the event.

The panellists discussed topics ranging from selective violence in childhood and adulthood to acid attack and demonstration of safety tips.

In a video message for the event, iconic cricketer Virender Sehwag said, "Domestic violence can be verbal, financial, sexual, psychological which includes the abuser withholding financial and medical assistance. VAWG is a breach of fundamental rights and studies indicate that women lose at least 5 paid workdays for each incident of intimate partner violence. Though there are laws against VAWG, implementation remains a challenge. These challenges include lack of budget, absence of dedicated protection officers and a clear SOP. Even where funds are budgeted, their utilisation towards services that will help women overcome violence is very low. Only 30% of the 1300 crore Nirbhaya Fund has been utilised."

Guest of Honour, acid attack victim Laxmi Agarwal added, "When an acid attack incident happens, the girl is the one who is blamed the most. The attacker attacks only once but society attacks repeatedly. The victim's biggest support and friend in this situation is their mind, heart and courage."

Actor Sharmila Tagore added, "Being a man is a cause of celebration in Indian society and this could be one reason for the rising graph of sexual crimes. Not allowing a woman to say NO is a gross violation of human rights. It requires sincere and dedicated sensitisation in creating an enabling environment where women are empowered to say NO. Women need autonomy to be free from violence. "

The conclave concluded with a discussion on how to prevent Violence against Health care providers. Over 1000 participants attended.

“Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it. In general terms, it manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms, encompassing intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide); sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber-harassment); human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation); female genital mutilation; and child marriage,” clarifies Dr Alpesh Gandhi, President FOGSI.

Renowned gynaecologists like Dr Jaydeep Tank, Secretary-General, FOGSI, Dr Archana Baser -VP FOGSI, Dr Shanthakumari- President-Elect were a part of the program. FOGSI has always been very active for its impactful community to connect social programs. The goal is to reach the UN Goal of Elimination of VAWG by 2030.