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All violence is male-generated: Maneka Gandhi

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New Delhi:  India is undoubtedly a patriarchal society but is it fair to be sexist?

Courting controversy, union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi on Monday said that the role of men in gender sensitization was critical since “all the violence is male-generated”.

The role of men in gender sensitization was the most critical since “all the violence is male-generated. We have introduced (the concept of) ‘Gender Champions’ in schools, under which boys who have been respectful and helpful to girls will be rewarded”, the minister said in reply to a question while interacting live with users on Facebook, as part of the ministry’s ‘#100Women’ initiative launched in July.

Under the initiative, the ministry has collaborated with the social media platform, Facebook, to identify 100 women across the country who made a difference to their communities.

During the time she spent on live chat in the digital space, Gandhi was asked many questions on children’s education, health and safety, crimes against women and other political issues, though she answered only a few of them.

As for the alleged rape of two Nepalese maids by a Saudi diplomat in Gurgaon in Haryana, Gandhi said the case was an “eye-opener” and added that the central government would see what safeguards could be put in place to prevent such incidents in future.

On the implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, the minister said, “We get periodic reports from the states and work with the National Commission for Women and the police.”

The ministry was also setting up ‘One Stop Centres’ called ‘Sakhi’, which would play an active role in helping women in trouble, she added.

On media sensitivity to women’s issues, she said, “I find the media more sensitive to women’s issues in India as compared with the situation abroad.”

Sometimes the media highlighted only one aspect of violence against women and gave an impression abroad that Indian society was insensitive to the fairer sex, Gandhi said, adding that the media response had also led to public awareness as well as many laws.

On the education system in the country, Gandhi, who is also an animal rights activist, said, “I think education should be more gender sensitive and certainly animal sensitive.”

Regarding the reservation given to children of economically weaker sections in schools, she said it was important to bring children from such background into good schools. Statistically, she said, India needed a school every seven minutes.

Speaking about the ‘#100Women’ initiative, Gandhi earlier said: “We all have had women in our lives who have made a difference; who have changed the course of our own lives; and who have left a mark on the entire community and changed it for the better.”

These women would be nominated on the ministry’s Facebook page. Those getting maximum recommendations would be shortlisted which would then be put up before a jury for selection of these 100 women.

To submit their nominations, people should visit the ministry’s Facebook page before September 30 and fill in the nomination forms.

The selected women would be hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee on January 22, 2016, the day when the prime minister had launched the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme this year.

With inputs from IANS

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Parents Need to Act Quickly to Handle a Child’s Fears, Says Maneka Gandhi

Gandhi's earlier books include "Sanjay Gandhi" (on her late husband), "First Aid for Animals" and "The Complete Book Muslim and Parsi Names", among others

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Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had asked for setting up Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) at the state and district levels for regular monitoring of the Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA) and CCIs. Flickr
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had asked for setting up Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) at the state and district levels for regular monitoring of the Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA) and CCIs. Flickr

There is no limit to the imagination of children, especially those below five. But not always what they see or feel may leave a positive image in their minds. And it is to guide not only children but also parents on how to battle such inner fears that Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has once again donned the hat of a writer wth a new book, “There is a Monster Under my Bed”.

“The book gives parents a new way of looking at overcoming a child’s fears so that they can talk to their children. If ignored, it may seemingly appear to go away on the surface but the fear will remain in some form forever. Parents need to act quickly to handle childhood fears,” Gandhi, 62, told IANS.

Maneka Gandhi has written many books on a variety of topics. How did this one come about? Gandhi said her granddaughter Anasuyaa was the inspiration.

“One day she (Anasuyaa) came up to me and said she is afraid that there is a monster under her bed. I had to quickly act positive and responded how lucky she is and I also would like to have one. Its then I realised why the book needs to be written,” Gandhi said.

Parents often tend to ignore the inner fears of children, Gandhi said, adding the book has been to make parents aware about how to deal with such situations.

“A child is a newly-hatched baby they is discovering the world while growing and I think genetically they primed to be afraid of what they don’t understand…

“If we can immediately explain them like in darkness you can see the moon, stars and hear the owls then they can get rid of fear,” she explained.

The 47-page book, illustrated by Snigdha Rao and published by Penguin (Rs 399), deals with common childhood fears like dark rooms, lightening, clowns, injections and even shadows.

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Parents often tend to ignore the inner fears of children,  Pixabay 

“Believe it or not most children fear clowns. And of course, the space under one’s bed which is perhaps the most frightening part. Sometimes, children have difficulty in putting their feet down at night and going to the bathroom because they think something will come out from their bed,” Maneka Gandhi pointed out.

The book is a handy guideline for parents on how they can turn a scary thought or moment of a child into something positive. A bonus is the beautiful, bright and colourfull illustrations that the children can enjoy.

Although, Gandhi hasn’t included child sex abuse in the book, this didn’t stop her from talking about it and accepting it is another form of fear that children often encounter, especially within family.

“I haven’t brought that angle in book because what I wrote in this book is fears of mind that is an actual thing that has to be told to parents. And what we have done in this ministry is that we have made a helpline, childline and email. We respond very quickly to such complaints,” she stated.

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Maneka Gandhi also mentioned that her ministry, for the first time, made it mandatory print details of child sex abuse and about ‘good and bad touch’ at the back of every CBSE book.

Asked about her next book, the minister said she is writing one on flowers.

“My next book would be about different varieties of flowers as today’s youngsters are not much aware of the names of flowers,” Maneka Gandhi said.

Gandhi’s earlier books include “Sanjay Gandhi” (on her late husband), “First Aid for Animals” and “The Complete Book Muslim and Parsi Names”, among others. (IANS)