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Sahitya Akademi condemns intolerance, asks writers to take back awards

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New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi on Friday passed a resolution after a special meeting with writers condemning the prevailing atmosphere of intolerance and violence in the country while unanimously asking the authors to take back their awards and withdraw resignations.

In its resolution, the Sahitya Akademi condemned the killing of rationalist M M Kalburgi and demanded action in this regard besides urging the Centre and state governments to work together.

Over 100 litterateurs have returned their Akademi awards to protest primarily against the attacks by some Hindutva groups on writers and thinkers like Kalburgi.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 writers took out a peaceful march here on Friday to protest against increasing intolerance in the country.

Writers from across the country gathered at Shri Ram Centre near Mandi House and marched towards Sahitya Akademi in the capital, wearing black ribbons on their heads as a sign of protest.

The writers said that the protest was to express their anger against the government for letting anti-social incidents happen and also to attract attention of the academy towards the increasing attacks on litterateurs.

The protest was organised just before Sahitya Akademi’s emergency meeting to discuss various issues.

“Freedom of expression and speech is currently being suppressed in the country. Whatever is happening in the country nowadays, people belonging to minorities and schedule caste feel insecure,” a writer said in the protest.

“The government must take some concrete steps to stop such incidents which shatter nation’s secular fabric. Sahitya Akademi should also pressurize the government and pass some resolution against increasing attacks on the writers,” the protester added.

Earlier this month several writers had returned their awards to register their protest against increasing intolerance in the country.

In an interesting turn of events, there was a protest by another group of writers against the protesting writers at the same venue.

(With inputs from IANS)

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“Violence Against Women And Girls Is The Most Widespread Human Rights Violation on Earth” Activists Campaign to End Violence Against Women

"The largest obstacle I see is to fight the apathy," she said. "When you're asking for global systems change and genuine commitments, even people who are pro-women's rights will question whether or not it's needed, will say it's unnecessary — and this is something the tobacco and land mines and disabilities treaties faced."

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An Indian participant in the 'Dignity March' looks on as she attends the culmination of the march at Ramleela Ground in New Delhi, Feb. 22, 2019. VOA

Women’s rights activists from 128 nations are launching a public campaign Tuesday for an international treaty to end violence against women and girls, a global scourge estimated by the United Nations to affect 35 percent of females worldwide.

The campaign led by the Seattle-based nonprofit organization Every Woman Treaty aims to have the U.N. World Health Organization adopt the treaty with the goal of getting all 193 U.N. member states to ratify it.

“Violence against women and girls is the most widespread human rights violation on Earth,” the organization’s co-founder and chief executive, Lisa Shannon, told The Associated Press in an interview Monday ahead of the official launch.

“All the efforts that people put into development, education, women’s empowerment, economic opportunity are being squashed when women are not physically safe,” she said. “It’s a global pandemic. … We cannot make progress as a species without addressing violence against women and girls.”

FILE - A woman, with her daughter, writes a message of support during the first Egyptian womens' race, to raise awareness about violence against women, in Cairo, Egypt, Nov. 30, 2018.
A woman, with her daughter, writes a message of support during the first Egyptian womens’ race, to raise awareness about violence against women, in Cairo, Egypt, Nov. 30, 2018. VOA

The activists want the treaty to require countries to take four actions that have proven to lower rates of violence against women:

  • Adopt laws punishing domestic violence, which lower mortality rates for women.
  • Train police, judges, nurses, doctors and other professionals about such violence, which leads to increased prosecution of perpetrators and better treatment for survivors.
  • Provide education on preventing violence against women and girls, which research shows has an influence on boys’ and men’s attitudes and actions, and encourages women and girls to demand their rights.
  • Provide hotlines, shelters, legal advice, treatment and other services for survivors.

Eleanor Eleanor Nwadinobi of Nigeria, a member of Every Woman Treaty’s steering committee, said the other critical issue is funding, which “is absolutely essential” to enable governments, especially in developing countries, to carry out this essential work to combat violence against women and girls.

Shannon said the activists are modeling their campaign after the efforts that led to the successful treaty on eliminating land mines, which took force in 1999, and the treaty aimed at limiting the use of tobacco, which was the first pact negotiated under WHO auspices and entered into force in 2005.

In the first 36 hours of the mine ban treaty, nations pledged $500 million toward its implementation, Shannon said.

She expressed hope that a treaty tackling violence against women and girls would lead to a $4 billion-a-year fund for financing global action, “which would be about a dollar per female on Earth.”

Every Woman Treaty was started in 2013 and Shannon said it has been working behind the scenes to build support and come up with recommendations and a rough draft of a treaty.

More than 4,000 individuals and organizations have signed what she called “a one-page people’s treaty” that condemns all forms of violence against women and girls, outlines the actions sought in a treaty, and urges nations to adopt it. Among the signatories are Nobel Peace Prize winners Shirin Ebadi of Iran, Tawakol Karman of Yemen and Jody Williams of the United States.

FILE - Nobel Peace laureates, from left, Yemen's Tawakkol Karman, Iran's Shirin Ebadi and Ireland's Mairead Maguire address a press conference after their visit to the Rohingya refugee camps in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Feb. 28, 2018.
Nobel Peace laureates, from left, Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman, Iran’s Shirin Ebadi and Ireland’s Mairead Maguire address a press conference after their visit to the Rohingya refugee camps in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Feb. 28, 2018. VOA

Shannon said the activists are seeking 20 countries to lead the campaign for the new treaty.

First, she said, they need the World Health Organization to approve a resolution seeking a report on the role a treaty would play. “Our goal is to have the resolution introduced at the 2020 World Health Assembly,” which she called very ambitious.

Once a report is written, Shannon said, the World Health Assembly would have to approve the process for drafting a treaty.

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“The largest obstacle I see is to fight the apathy,” she said. “When you’re asking for global systems change and genuine commitments, even people who are pro-women’s rights will question whether or not it’s needed, will say it’s unnecessary — and this is something the tobacco and land mines and disabilities treaties faced.”

Shannon said the biggest immediate challenge is finding countries willing to take on a leadership role and getting people to understand this is “an opportunity that we have to take right now” because “we are not going to advance” unless violence against women and girls is addressed. (VOA)