The interfaith dialogue, held by the Diocese of Calcutta and the Church of North India, brought together 150 people to decide on how to reduce violence against women, writes the Diocesan Women and Gender Justice Co-ordinator, Moumita Biswas.
In partnership with the Gandhi Peace Foundation and India Peace Center, the church hosted 150 attendees, including religious leaders, representatives from other faith-based organisations, and leaders in education, in a discussion called, “Combating Paedophilia, Abuse, Rape and Murder of Young Girls in India”.
The Bishop of Calcutta, Rt Revd Ashoke Biswas, promoted an agenda for gender justice and to bring an end to the culture of gender-based violence. He encouraged attendees to reflect their faith and spirituality in their actions and said, “Our children, especially the girls, are not safe neither in their mother’s womb nor in their homes and outside in our country.”
Violence against women, particularly sexual assaults against young girls, have become increasingly common in India. Some recent cases of rape have horrified the country and the world. According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) of India, 30,942 cases of crime against women took place in West Bengal in 2012. Calcutta ranked as the third most unsage city for women in India.
Dialogue between the faith leaders and organisations brought forward recommendations to reduce violence against women and children. They included:
- Child protection policies to be introduced in schools, colleges and other educational institutions.
- Peace education and awareness about gender justice should be made mandatory in school and college curriculums. This could be introduced in value education or moral science/ethics classes, and should be common in schools and colleges.
- Faith-based organisations should promote family counselling as one of the crucial components of healing and combatting violence in the family and in society.
The recommendations will be the integral part of a campaign taken forward by the Diocese of Calcutta, “Violence on Women and Children”. In partnership with other faiths, the church will continue to engage in the fight against violence against women and children, and will play an instrumental role in providing the tools needed to heal the wounded society.
Secretary to the Diocese of Calcutta, Revd. Abir Adhikary declared it as “a sacred mission”, as all faiths work together to protest against injustice and to protect vulnerable women and girls from violence.