Arguing that the Women’s Wall is “not a political activity”, the Kerala government said the campaign aims to bridge the gap of gender discrimination and empower women to achieve their full potential.

Kerala Womens Wall to be funded by money for schemes to prevent atrocities on women
news Sabarimala Friday, December 21, 2018 - 17:51

The Kerala government will use state funds to organise its ‘vanitha mathil’ (Women’s Wall) campaign, it stated in an affidavit submitted to the High Court on Thursday. The Social Justice Department revealed that the Kerala government will use Rs 50 crore, which has been earmarked for various schemes to prevent atrocities against women, to organise the Women’s Wall on January 1.

The campaign has been mired in controversy ever since Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced it on December 1, with political parties and Hindu organisations opposing the LDF-led government’s 600-km-long human chain of women, from Kasargode to Thiruvananthapuram. The government’s proposed event is an attempt to raise awareness about its stand on the Sabarimala case as well as to counter the Sangh Parivar’s protests against women entry to the shrine.

Several public interest litigations alleged that the Kerala government was misusing the state machinery and diverting funds from flood relief for organising the event on January 1. Following this, on Tuesday, a division bench, headed by Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy, asked the state government to respond with an affidavit, detailing the expenses incurred for the Women’s Wall and utilisation of funds for other women empowerment schemes.

In its response, the Kerala government said that no fund was being diverted for Women’s Wall and that resources and manpower are not being wasted. In the affidavit, the state government said that its Women’s Wall campaign is “not a political activity” and that it is to underscore the achievements of the State “in the field of social renaissance undertaken with an aim to bridge the gap of gender discrimination and empowering women to achieve their full potential”.

It also said that the event will be implemented through the Women and Child Development Department as announced in the Budget presented and approved by the Legislative Assembly for the current financial year.

“The last quarter of the fiscal is nearing and it is necessary to implement the programmes announced in the Budget before the end of the financial year. It (the Women’s Wall) is just like any other programme being conducted under the patronage or funding of the government,” it read.

The affidavit also pointed out that the Government sponsors and uses its machinery to conduct several cultural activities such as the international film festival, state youth festival, Keralolsavam, Nehru Trophy Jalolsavam and Kochi Muziris Biennale, which are organised by private agencies or by various organisations.

“The Vanitha Mathil is to be considered as one such campaign or event of the Government for the empowerment of women and to bridge the gap of gender equality,” it added.

Incidentally, earlier reports had suggested that the Kerala government will not use public funds for the Women’s Wall. Reports also said that a modified circular on the Women’s Wall did not include the section that says that state funds will be used for the campaign.

'This is the beginning of corruption in Kerala'

Meanwhile, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the government’s move to spend Rs 50 crore from the state’s treasury, for the Women’s Wall campaign, is the "beginning of corruption" in Kerala.

“Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier said that he will not spend from the state coffer for the event. In fact, that is what he had said at the Legislative Assembly. But now he says, since the money set aside for women’s safety has been left unused, it is being used for the Wall. This is serious wrongdoing,” he said while addressing the media on Thursday.   

“Does the government have the capacity to spend on the Wall now, especially at a time when we are struggling for flood relief funds and when people’s complaints are growing?” he asked, adding that the amount should have instead been used to strengthen the police force to ensure security and protection to women.

“This communal wall is a move to turn Kerala into a mental asylum; a move to divide and challenge the public,” said the Opposition leader. 

He added that the Opposition party will continue to protest this move, legally and politically.

 

സ്ത്രീ സുരക്ഷയ്ക്കായി മാറ്റി വെച്ചിരിക്കുന്ന പണം മതിലിന് വേണ്ടി ചിലവഴിക്കുന്നത് അഴിമതിയാണ്.മതിൽ പണിയാനായി 50 കോടി രൂപ ചെലവഴിക്കുന്നത് ജനങ്ങളോടുള്ള വെല്ലുവിളിയാണ് രാഷ്ട്രീയ ആവശ്യങ്ങൾക്കായി സ്ത്രീ സുരക്ഷക്കുള്ള പണം ഉപയോഗിക്കുന്നത് തെറ്റാണ്.വനിതാമതിലിനായി സർക്കാർ ഖജനാവിൽ നിന്നും തുക ഉപയോഗിക്കില്ലെന്ന്‌ ഉറപ്പ് നൽകിയ മുഖ്യമന്ത്രി പിണറായി വിജയൻ വിശ്വാസ വഞ്ചന കാട്ടി.

Posted by Ramesh Chennithala on Thursday, December 20, 2018

Ramesh Chennithala also welcomed the High Court’s decision to not include women below 18 years old in the Women’s Wall campaign. Advocate DB Binu had argued that letting children participate in such programmes was in violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

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