July 31, 2022

TN: Convention against Domestic Violence

V B Ganesan

TAMIL Nadu is witnessing an increase in domestic violence, according to the recently released National Family Health Survey-5. Concerned over this problem, the CPI(M) Tamil Nadu state committee organised a convention against domestic violence to draw the attention of the state government as well as the general public to it. In order to find remedies to this malady, the convention brought a wider section of social activists under a platform to evolve a plan of action. The convention held on July 19, 2022 had a big participation of activists from various spheres. The presidium of the convention consisted of CPI(M) Central Committee members  P Sampath and U Vasuki and state secretariat member N Gunasekaran and presided over by CPI(M) state secretary K Balakrishnan. 

In his presidential address, Balakrishnan recalled that it was the Communist movement of Thanjavur which fought against various feudal atrocities in the area and ensured that women were allowed to wear saree up to their ankle. From such a situation, the state has stooped to the level where even a women SP is facing sexual harassment from her senior officer. He also emphasised that social evils such as devadasi system and sati were abolished and child marriages saw a decline in the state due to continuous reform, Left and democratic movements in yesteryears. Likewise, it is the responsibility of the current generation of social activists to fight against this evil called domestic violence. He also opined that such social evils are the by-products of bourgeois-landlord society, and therefore it is essential to transform such a society in order to eradicate these social evils. He also urged people to develop a powerful movement against patriarchy in society to achieve this goal.

Former health minister of Kerala, K K Shailaja said that before Independence many social reformers as well as the Communist movement fought against retrograde feudal culture in Kerala, and Tamil Nadu was not behind in this. In that respect, Periyar can be called as the first feminist of Tamil Nadu. Outlining the importance of people’s democratic revolution to end this patriarchal society, she said that though many Left Democratic Front governments in Kerala since 1957 have undertaken many welfare measures and campaigns to eradicate the feudal outlook from the society, it is very sad to say that more than 30 per cent of women in Kerala are undergoing violence in one form or the other in their homes. As only a socialist society can eradicate all the pre-capitalist forms of social mores and capitalist forms of consumerism and oppression against women, we shall strive forward to build a powerful campaign against the present society and for the establishment of a socialist society to ensure the real equality of women, she said.      

Theekkathir editor Madhukkur Ramalingam recalled that while proverbs and  mythologies are full of notions against women as a whole, it is also heartening to see that Tamil epics such as Silapadhikaram, Manimekalai, Sivakasindhamani, Kundalakesi and Valayapathi were very forthright in defending the rights of women, which is literally peculiar only to Tamil culture. Hence, it is the duty of the current generation to take this tradition of alternative thoughts to fight against sanatan, caste and religious fanaticism and for the liberation of womanhood, he appealed to the youth to take this historic responsibility in right earnest.

Advocate Arulmozhi, propaganda secretary of Dravidar Kazhagam (DK), said that in order to change such a situation, it is necessary to change the mindset of the society as a whole. She also welcomed the resolution of this convention which provides solutions to the social maladies being faced by womenfolk in the society.

CPI(M) state secretariat member Balabharathi said that the family system reflects the political ethos of the society. The capitalist society allows women to study and take up jobs and at the same time, its feudal orientation expects the family should teach women to be obedient to its patriarchy. Such a politics of this capitalist-feudal society should be talked about and it is our bounden duty to take this cultural campaign across all sections of the society to change the current situation, she underlined.

Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers’ and Artists Association vice-president and actor, Rohini said that families are functioning as factories training a girl child from her birth to marriage as a ‘domestic worker’ to be sent into another family and violence is being inflicted upon the womenfolk. If anyone rebels against such a condition, her future becomes a big question mark. Why the life of women should always be a struggle, she questioned. “In this, besides speaking and writing against domestic violence, we have to devise a plan and take it across consciously to the people. In that respect, this platform gives me a big hope,” she said. In order to take up the challenge of domestic violence, plans of action have to be taken up in many sectors such as the state, society, legal and media and for this purpose, this convention placed the following proposals for a sustained campaign:

  • Awareness has to be created across the various government departments, including police department, about the laws which ensure gender equality. 
  • Under the prevention of domestic violence act, officers are being posted only at the district level to take up the cases. Such officers should be posted at taluk and further down local levels. 
  • Text books should contain ideas of gender equality and the gist of the laws enacted on this issue. 
  • The government should periodically discuss with all types of media about gender equality and make necessary arrangements to ensure that media is reflecting those views in a genuine way. 
  • The visual media should be advised to put up a statutory warning in any scene of domestic violence, if at all it is essential to the storyline of the film or serials. 
  • The government should ensure adequate advertisements are published in different kinds of media about gender equality, laws related to such equality, sharing the burden of domestic duties etc. 
  • A special session of the assembly should be convened to exclusively discuss the measures to be taken up to end domestic violence prevailing in the society. 
  • Efforts should be made to scuttle the efforts of Sangh Parivar which is clandestinely pushing in ideas preaching Manusmriti within the society.
  • The State should ensure that women are getting higher education, employment and proper salary. It also should ensure supportive measures such as crèche at the working areas. 
  • Strict measures should be taken up against infanticide, child marriage etc after undertaking a wider consultation on such crucial issues. 
  • As alcoholism is one of the crucial factors for domestic violence, the government should ensure that TASMAC shops are being shut down gradually to wean away the addicts.   

With these goals, the convention called upon the district committees of the Party to undertake a widespread campaign with the slogan “prevent violence and build equality in the family” among the public from August 1 by distributing pamphlets and holding discussion with the families across the state.