The international workshop on ‘Gender-based Violence: Research and Practice’ was held at Zakir Hussain Auditorium on 21st September, hosted by Dr. Sheela Suryanarayanana and her research team. The University of Hyderabad. Freie Universität – Berlin, University of Heidelberg, Max Plank Society, Frauenhofer Office – Delhi, and Institute of Eminence – UoH The German Centre for Research and Innovation (DWIH) New Delhi were funder-organisers and participants in this workshop. Prof. B.J.Rao inaugurated the event by lighting the lamp and delivered a welcome speech on the significance of changing mindset in bringing about gender equality. He suggested thinking beyond the power structures of binary gender and to understand and break structural inequalities created by patriarchy.
The speakers were; Dr. Sheela Suryanarayanan, Associate Professor, University of Hyderabad, Dr. Heike Pantelmann, Managing Director, Margherita von Brentano, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, Prof. D. Parthasarathy, Dean, Nayanta School of Public Policy, Hyderabad and Prof. Christiane Schwieren, Equal Opportunities Commissioner, University of Heidelberg, Germany. The moderator was Dr. Suboor Bakht, Representative of Heidelberg University. The closing remarks were given by Vibhuti Sukhramani, Head of the New Delhi Liaison Office, Freie Universität Berlin. Eva Tiemann, Centre for International Cooperation, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany was a participant in the workshop.
Dr. Sheela Suryanarayanan referred to women’s empowerment and progress in India and then spoke about the main types of crime rate followed by specific forms of spousal violence against women experienced in India, the factors determining the violence, help seeking behaviour in case of violence, alcoholism and resources needed by women for transforming the situation. She concluded with a need for change of behaviour, mindset and more understanding of patriarchy to break the structural inequalities it creates. Dr. Heike Pantelmann spoke about the German situation of sexual harassment in Higher Educational Institiutions. Giving examples she spoke about the lack of awareness, the pattern of blaming, the link between everyday sexist behaviour and assaultive incidents of violence. She called for change in organisational culture in Higher Educational Institutions and more research on the subject.
Dr. D.Parthasarthy presented the findings of his study conducted on sexual harassment in Indian Universities. He spoke about the perpetrators; teachers, administrators, students and the aggrieved (largely women and girls, but also those of other gender identities). He spoke about the short-term and long term effects of sexual harassment. He also referred to the casual sexism, misogyny that is widely prevalent. He spoke about the decisions of ICCs, sometimes weak and sometimes superseded by the court of law and others with positions of power within Higher Educational Institutions. Prof. Christiane Schwieren spoke about her experience of being in commitees assessing sexual harassment cases. The key message that she gave out was ‘Stop changing Women, Change the Structure’.
On 22nd Sept, the delegates and the speakers of the Workshop met the Vice-Chancellor to strengthen the Indo-German Academic ties.