News

Seng Kynthei Raises Awareness of Violence in Karbi Anglong, Assam, India

by Major Elgiva Dora Shullai, Global Sister Coordinator, SKUUNEI

Seng Kynthei Raises Awareness of Violence in Karbi Anglong, Assam, IndiaOn 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: ncw.metoo@gmail.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.

The President’s Column–Winter 2018

Arlene Johnson, President, International Women's Convocation

Arlene Johnson

We are pleased to announce that the International Women’s Convocation (IWC) received a $13,000 grant recently from the UU Funding Panel that will help us plan with the UU Women’s Federation and UU Women & Religion on how we might best work together going forward.  Even though we have different herstories and missions, we do have some common goals.  During our Third Convocation in California, February 2017, approximately 250 participants made it clear what their priorities were within the five streams (Economic Opportunity, Education, Health and Reproductive Justice, Leadership Development, and Violence Prevention), and where they thought UU women should focus their energies. This prompted us to explore how we might collaborate with other UU women’s organizations in USA. Currently, we are holding monthly conference calls and making plans to hold a weekend meeting in Boston with organizational leaders this fall.  We have invited Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President to attend.

I am happy to announce that our workshop proposal was accepted for General Assembly in Kansas City this June.  The title is #Me Too: Called to Challenge Systemic Patriarchy.  It will be held Saturday, June 23, 1:30 – 4:00 pm.  If you are planning to come to GA, please put this important workshop on your calendar.  Some of the goals are to recognize the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in all societies and the need to confront physical, sexual, economic bullying and abuse in systems of patriarchal authority; and, to support the victims of abuse.  After a panel discussion, we will break into small discussion groups to develop positive steps for moving forward.

March 8th is International Women’s Day.  We recommend that you and your congregation celebrate your international UU sisters and their work on behalf of women.  We are particularly proud of the great collaboration between Transylvanian women and the women of North East India (read about this inspiring story of cross-cultural connection on page 3 of the newsletter). We encourage congregations to share a plate collection with IWC during March or May to support our projects to improve women’s lives around the world.  We are also asking individuals to consider contributing to our crowd funding campaign that will benefit women in the Philippines and Bolivia (see page 2 of the newsletter).

Earlier this month, the International Council of Unitarian Universalists (ICUU) held its conference in Nepal and we were delighted that several of our IWC leaders attended and represented IWC.  Thank you to board members Phyllis Marsh (US) and Elgiva Shullai (India), former board members Creamlimon Nongbri (India) and Sharon Van Duizend (US), our Global Sisters Council member Dr. Rica Lamar (India) and stalwart networker and supporter Julie Steinbach (US).  Please see Sharon’s article on her time in Nepal (page 9 of the newsletter).

The IWC board and staff are now wrapping up a strategic planning process, expected to be completed by spring. We look forward to sharing the results of our strategic planning as we shape the road ahead for this organization.  Thank you for your generous support and your willingness to speak out on behalf of women!