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‘Poll campaigns fail to address issue of sexual violence’

Dr Pallavi Guha delivering the lecture. – Photo: Rupam Medhi
 JALUKBARI, Jan 10 - The electoral campaigns in the country have failed to address the issue of sexual violence against women. The safety of women was an issue during the 2014 political campaign, right after the Nirbhaya incident in 2012-13, whereas sexual violence against women was not counted as an issue during the campaigns for the Assembly elections held recently in three major states. This happens due to the gap existing between the issues dear to the political parties and the social media activism that takes place on sexual harassment.

Dr Pallavi Guha, Department of Mass Communication, Towson University, USA, stated this while delivering the third Dr Anamika Ray National Media Lecture-2019 at the New Academic Building, Gauhati University, today, on the topic ‘Is #MeToo a political campaign issue in India?’

The lecture was organised by Dr Anamika Ray Memorial Trust (ARMT) in collaboration with the Dept of Communication and Journalism, Gauhati University.

Dr Guha, a former journalist with the BBC(UK), said, “The mainstream media must close this gap and help build an interdependent agenda, as mainstream media have access to larger audiences.

Referring to the #MeToo movement as one restricted to 28 per cent of women who go to work, Dr Guha said, “Activism on social media needs to be more inclusive. It must include the entire 48.1 per cent women of the total population in India as per the International Labour Organisation.”

Dr Guha said the election manifestos for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is much awaited now, so as to see whether the #MeToo movement that occurred in India in 2017-18 will still play a campaign card.

In his inaugural address, Dr Mridul Hazarika, VC of GU, said that despite the activism of social media on various issues, especially on sexual harassment, it is always important to analyse the facts beforehand. This, he said, will restore the societal values, as “It is not always important for the conscious people to be part of a crowd or be a crowd.”

Prof Manoj Kr Patairiya, Director, CSIR-NISCAIR, Govt of India, presided over the meeting. ARMT Vice Chair Rajat Baran Mahanta, trustee Dr Ankuran Dutta, and the faculties, research scholars and students of the University, attended the event.

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