As part of the 16 days of activism against gender based violence, The Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation in collaboration with the PG Department of Human Rights and Duties Education of Ethiraj College (Chennai), organised a speech making competition on the 1st of December, 2017. 25 Students from 9 different colleges in and around Chennai participated in the event and gave speeches under the topic assigned to them, which was- “Protection of Women in Public Spaces: Challenges and Solutions.”
Media person Prof. Sundaravalli, Editor-in-Charge of the Theekkathir newspaper Mr. Kumaresan and Prof. Dr. Chitra Venkatachalam were part of the coveted panel of jury members who adjudged the competition. As the competition was not restricted to any one language, speakers had the choice of orating in both Tamil and English.
While pointing out distressing statistics relating to the violence a nd harassment against women, speakers also talked about the prevalence of victim-blaming in India and the perils of the same. The constant mental distress that women endure on a day-to-day basis was highlighted and the patriarchy in the society was commented upon.
Amongst other things- counselling for the victim, increase in police personnel patrolling the street, removal of the culture of silence regarding sexual abuse that exists in the Indian society and creating awareness regarding the existing laws on the protection of women were the solutions provided by the speakers for the women-related problems that they felt plagued the Indian society.
Overall, the competition proved to be a great learning experience for the students and also served as a platform for exchanging ideas amongst like-minded women who are sure to be the change that India needs in the future.