by Major Elgiva Dora Shullai, Global Sister Coordinator, SKUUNEI
On October 19, 2018, eight Seng Kynthei members took a trip to Karbi Anglong district: a 12-hour journey through Assam state to conduct an awareness program on violence against women. In attendance were Seng Kynthei president Kong Battinora Rani, Seng Kynthei secretary Dr. Creamlimon Nongbri, Kong Elginia Lamar (a senior member), Dr. Rica Lamar and Elgiva Shullai as resource persons, Kong Angelina Law and Kong Wakawyrta Chadap from Mukhap village, and Kong Aloma Bourine Shullai from Jowai.
Rugged jungle tracks, heavy with deep puddles and sludges that hampered our speed, made the journey to Karbi Anglong an obstacle course. On arrival, we were warmly welcomed by our Unitarian sisters and brothers. After arranging the venue and all requirements for the program the following day, we had a short prayer service.
Seventy-eight, both men and women, took part in the program. The event began with a warm welcome from Kansang Chinthongpi (Longduk Anglong), the secretary of the Karbi Anglong Circle, followed by greetings and then chalice lighting from our Karbi women’s wing. A prayer was offered by Kong Battinora Rani. Many helped with registration, photographing and recording, distributing pamphlets, and facilitator work. Mr. Arjun Sing Kathar, a very energetic and lively youth, was our interpreter throughout the day.
As the first resource person, I presented an introduction and objectives: a brief statement as to why it is so important to address gender-based violence. After sharing recent news on violence against women and girls, I talked about gender, gender-based violence, differences between sex and gender, and types of violence. The subject was tailored to a mixed crowd of men, women, and youth. The men were encouraged to remain vigilant and aware at all times as violence may concern the safety of their own relations and loved ones.
A short exercise on the role of our society in defining gender followed. At this point, sharing and responses from participants were minimal. Most of the women were quiet; this type of a program was very new to them. However, at the conclusion of the program, many expressed joy that we had raised awareness and made the subject less disturbing to discuss.
Dr. Rica Lamar presented Indian laws and regulations meant to curb incidences of violence against women and children and to punish perpetrators. Participants were also acquainted with the White Ribbon Campaign and the importance of observing the International day of Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25) as well as International Women’s Day (March 8).
We presented a poster about the #MeToo movement and urged attendees to become involved by sending their personal stories to a national email address created by the Government of India: email@example.com. In addition, various informational pamphlets were distributed: Dos and Don’ts when raped, information on helplines, government shelters, hospitals, and police stations.
To conclude, we read the White Ribbon Pledge together, led by Mr. Rajendra Teron. Dr. Creamlimon Nongbri thanked participants and organizers alike, acknowledging the active participation of women and men in the Karbi Anglong Circle. Mr. Mon Sing Kathar, assistant minister, proposed a vote of thanks on behalf of the Karbi Circle, which was followed by a song from the hymn book, “God Be with You till We Meet Again.” The benediction was given by Mrs. Cheribon Millickpi (Zirikyndeng), chairperson of Karbi Circle. Group photos and boxed lunch in the church front yard followed.
I take this opportunity to thank the Unitarian Union of North East India, our Seng Kynthei members (especially our senior members who have always supported us with a lot of positivity and enthusiasm), each participant who has felt the need and responsibility to attend the program, our resource persons, as well as our sponsors and guides at all levels who have made this program a success.