UN Women in the Caribbean recently funded a three-phase programme aimed at promoting the role of faith-based organisations in “increasing awareness to change attitudes and influence behaviour amongst people from all walks of life, as essential to preventing and ending violence against women.” The collaboration established a partnership between UN Women and the Hindu Women’s Organisation of T&T. One of the outcomes was the publication of a booklet entitled Hinduism—An Overview & Rejecting Violence Against Women.
While Pundit Bramdeo Maharaj, a former president of the Inter-Religious Organisation, presented the Hindu overview, Brenda Gopeesingh presented the position of the Hindu Women’s Organisation in addressing violence within the Hindu community. The booklet was launched at the newly refurbished Divali Nagar Auditorium during the “16 Days of Activism” which represented the period between November 25 and December 10—the days which the UN has reserved to vigorously address the Elimination of Violence Against Women since 2008. The audience included members of the Maha Sabha, Swaha, Saathi, the Raj Yoga Centre, the Satya Sai Organisation the Rape Crisis Centre, the Institute of Gender Studies, CAFRA and the Network of NGOs.
In her introduction, the president of the HWO, Henny Charran observed that “gender-based violence is a societal scourge wrecking havoc on family life, communities, and countries—indeed on the entire planet.” She expressed the view that “we cannot stand by silently without making efforts to bring about change which will eliminate violence against women and pointed out that “there is no room within the Hindu tradition for violence.”
His Worship, the Mayor of Chaguanas Orlando Nagessar, who was the feature speaker at the function, identified Violence Against Women as “an issue which should be focused upon all the time and on an ongoing basis. He expressed the view that the core values of most religions are basically the same. He cited the Jerry Springer programme as one that incites violence and referred to the television as the “electronic baby sitter.”