'Cultural sensitivity must to prevent women's sexual abuse'



New Delhi: A massive cultural sensitivity programme aimed at changing heart and psyche of people is needed to bring down the increasing number of sexual harassment cases against women, according to experts.

It's difficult to define sexual harassment but a woman always knows when she is being subjected to it, they say.

"We need social awareness and activity to ensure men and women are treated equal and women are not seen as filth of the business by men," says former minister of Women and Child Development, Renuka Chaudhary.

Chaudury was participating in a panel discussion on sexual offences against women here recently organised by a TV channel.

"We have a lot of laws but they do not address the root cause of the problem. What is needed is pro-active work and education for young men to teach them to respect women," says veteran journalist and author Madhu Trehan.

"It's unfortunate that we educate people not to murder but do not teach them to respect women. The advertisements promote inferior status of women compared to men," she adds.

Research released recently shows that every fifth woman worker is sexually harassed in India. Also drafted in the year 2007 by the National Commission for Women (NCW), the path-breaking "Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill," still remains in consultation stages.

Joint Secretary of NCW, Sundari Subrimaniam Pujari opines that laws change as per the dynamism of the society.

"We need more sensitisation and good execution of laws and we need to make our children aware and give them good teachings," she points out.

Ranjana Kumari, Director, Centre for Social Research observes that sexual harassment is not only prevalent in educated circles but a poor woman working at a construction site is also subjected to it by the contractor.

"She has no knowledge whom to complain to. We need awareness for that. Parents should give voice and confidence to their daughters while bringing them up, so that a girl has guts to come out against sexual offenders," she says.

Senior advocate Aryama Sundaram favoured presence of tough laws along with education to deter criminals.

"Education is more today than it was 40 years ago, but, harassment is also more than it was 40 years ago in the society. We need teeth in form of laws so that there is a deterrent," he said.

PTI