Annual Report 2011-2012
Every year, since its inception, the Foundation invites an eminent person to deliver a lecture on the subject of empowerment of women and human rights. Smt. Meira Kumar, Hon'ble Speaker, Lok Sabha delivered the Seventeenth Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture on "Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Barriers to Women's Empowerment' on 9th November, 2011 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
Smt. Meira Kumar said that these days the status of women is apparently at per with that of men. However, there exists an invisible barrier to their empowerment. Our Constitution guarantees Fundamental Rights to every citizen without discrimination on the basis of sex, caste, creed or race. We are among the very first democracies in the world to adopt universal adult franchise and equal rights to contest elections to legislative bodies. . And it goes to the credit of women voters that around 49% of the women electorate voted in the 15th Lok Sabha elections in 2009. In 15th Lok Sabha, the number of elected women members has increased to 59 as against 22 in the first Lok Sabha. Similarly, in Rajya Sabha their number has increased from 15 in 1952 to the present strength of 26. Representation of women in Panchayati Raj institutions has brought them into the forefront of development. Today, we have more than 1.2 million women elected representatives in local bodies. Some states have gone beyond the mandated 33 per cent and provided for more reservation for women in local bodies. However, prevailing socio-cultural norms, practices and prejudices continue to hamper gender equality.
The caste system and the dowry tradition are two major social issues we have to address to make sure that discrimination against women stops. The caste system is the root cause of honour killing and dowry system is responsible for female foeticide, said Meira Kumar.
Education of women is a essential for ensuring gender equality. Special attention is to be paid to women living in rural areas, especially to women belonging to disadvantaged sections. Prejudices against women can be seen from their low literacy rate. The gap between the male literacy rate. The gap between the male literacy rate of 82.14 per cent and the female literacy rate of 65.45 per cent is about 17 per cent. Labour markets in industry and service sectors are also male dominated. The goal of development in a society can be achieved only if the women do not suffer from exclusion, deprivation and marginalization.
Hon'ble Shri Justice A.K.Sikri, Acting Chief Justice, Delhi high Court presided over the meeting which was also addressed by Hon'ble Shri Justice P.Sathasivam, Judge ,Supreme Court of India.
A programme on "Save the Girl Child" was organized in collaboration with Sur Nirman Education and Culture Society at Kucha Mir Hashim at Chitle Kabar, Asaf Ali Road, Delhi on 24th January, 2012. About 200 persons participated in the programme.
The programme focused on the discrimination a girl child faces. She is discriminated against in many ways, ranging from abandonment, fewer months of breast feeding, less childcare and lack of adequate medical facilities. Declining sex ratio poses a serious problem in our society. A study on Delhi's sex ratio has shown alarming results. Delhi boasts of an elite society, but the affluent families living in the metropolis prove far more intolerant of the girl child than their rural counterparts. A recent survey of leading hospitals in the national capital has shown that Delhi's affluent people indulge in larger number of sex selective abortions that do the less well off. The Christian Medical Association of India (which has 350 hospitals under its ambit) has also found that Delhi's private hospitals had much higher figures of sex selective abortions than did government hospitals. Their study shows that 24,000 girls go missing in Delhi every year. Parents fail to understand is that the indulgence will soon turn against men. If the trend continues, India will soon reach a stage where 23 million boys will be unable to find partners.
A survey from the nursery schools in financially and politically elite localities reveals that in the last five years, the number of girl students has steadily declined. East Delhi's Preet Vihar has the worst sex ratio. It is now down to 750 girls for every 1,000 boys. Next is Punjabi Bagh where the ratio is 820 girls per 1,000 boys. Up-market colonies like Defence Colony and Patel Nagar do not fare much better. All nine districts in Delhi confirm this trend. The participants were urged to make efforts to fight this menace.
A Legal Literacy Programme was organized in association with Guild of Service at Maa Dham in Vrindaban on 21st April, 2012. Dr. Mohini Giri, Founder Managing Trustee, Guild of Service, explained the necessity of organizing such programmes. Mr. Tahir Mahmood, former Chairman, National Minorities Commission and former Member, Law Commission of India, who was the guest of Honour, Paid Homage to late Justice Sunanda Bhandare and described her as the voice of the voiceless. He advocated that the child marriage should be stopped. If a girl is forced to many before she is 18, she has the right to divorce within 2 years, he said. He also touched upon the practice of dowry among others, Dr. Laxmi , Shri Pradeep Mathur and Ms. Monika Singhal spoke on different aspect of violence against women and the horrifying effect of foeticide. They said how women are subjected to physical, sexual, emotional and economic exploitation and cited the cause of three lowest sex-ratio districts of Delhi viz. Najafgarh, Narela and Punjabi Bagh besides the case of Punjab where the ratio is 830 girls per 1000 boys and in Jhajhar district of Haryana, where the ratio is 750 girls for 1000 boys. Government with the help of various nodal agencies is taking steps to curb this menace and generate awareness in this regard
A Legal Literacy programme on Right to Information was organized by Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation in collaboration with Guild of Service in Village Chhagla, Najafgarh 20th October, 2012. Dr. K.S. Bhatti, Advocate and Shri H.N. Gandhi, Administrative Officer, Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation , Mrs. Diana Khambatta, Vice President, Guild of Service and Ms. Menu Chaudhary, Asst. Public Information, RTI Participated in the programme which was attended by more than 150 persons.
"Right to Information" makes the Government and other organization answerable the citizens. The participants were informed that before 2005 there was Freedom of Information Act 2002. Due to persistent effort of several civil society organization and champions of Right to Information, especially the effort of Smt Aruna Roy and others, the Right to Information Bill was then passed by Lok Sabha on 11th May, 2005, and by Rajya Sabha on 12th May, 2005. It got the assent of the Hon'ble President of India on 15th June, 2005. It was explained that an information seeker could collect document , e-mails, opinions, advices, Press release, circular, orders, reports and electronic data and any other information available with the Government/body.
Mother's Day was celebrated on 7th May, 2012. The Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation in association with Sur Nirman Educational and Cultural Society, organized a Workshop on 21st May, 2012 at Welcome Colony, Seelampur, Delhi. The workshop covered various topics relating to 'Mother' such as - (i) Status of Women both as working women and housewives, (ii) Position of girl child from 'Womb to Tomb', (iii) Divorce and its various forms. Shri H.N. Gandhi, Admn. Officer of the Foundation and Ms. Monika Singhal, Advocate participated in the workshop
The workshop also covered the issue of Divorce under Muslim Law. Under unfortunate circumstances, when a matrimonial contract is broken, divorce takes place. A man may divorce his wife without giving any reason, by pronouncing the word 'talaaq' 3 times. Every adult Muslim husband of a sound mind is competent to pronounce talaaq. A husband, who is minor or of an unsound mind, cannot pronounce it. A guardian cannot pronounce a talaaq on behalf of minor husband. A women cannot divorce her husband of her own accord. The participants also discussed the Sunni Law and the Shia Law on talaaq.
A workshop on "WHAT IS WILL AND WHY DO I NEED ONE" was organized by the foundation in association with Sur Nirman Education and Cultural Society on Saturday, 15th September, 2012 at Delhi Gate in Gali Guna Misar, Delhi. Resource persons included Dr. Abha Kulashreshta, Advocate, Shri Neeraj Kumar, Advocate, Shri H.N. Gandhi, Administrative Officer, Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation and Ms. Sajida Khan, President, Sur Nirman Educational and Cultural Society. There were more than 120 participants. It was explained to the participants that a WILL is a legal document that entitles one's loved ones get the assets one wishes to give them. Making a WILL is fairly a simple process and in the events of one's death, can give peace of mind to members of the family.
There are following 5 types of WILLs:
(i) Self proving/Testimony WILL
(ii) Holographic WILL
(iii) Oral WILL
(iv) Living WILL
(v) Islamic WILL
The WILL should be in writing and signed by the person and witnesses. If one does not have a WILL, one dies intestate. In such a case, the State will direct the distribution of one's assets according to a set formula. Methods of preparing the WILL, with compilation of list of assets and debts, safe deposit boxes, items of sentimental value, were explained to the participants. They were also explained how to change a WILL by replacing the old WILL or to make an amendment known as Codicil.
A free hexa-disciplinary medical camp in Physiotherapy, Dental Check Up, Gynecology, Child Healthcare, General Check Up, Drug De-Addiction, was jointly organized by the Centre for Health of Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation in association with Physiotherapy Forum for Physiotherapists, (Ministry of Health & Family Welfare), and Sur Nirman Education and Culture Society and other distinguished specialists in other medical fields on Sunday, 15th January, 2012 at Mahila Park, Turkman Gate, DDA Flats, Asaf Ali Road, Delhi. The camp was managed by a team of 12 experts from Safdarjang hospital and 7 doctors specializing in other medical disciplines from other renowned hospitals of Delhi. 650 patients?450 women, 100 men, 80 children and 20 physically handicapped persons?were examined and diagnosed. Free knee caps and walking sticks were distributed to women suffering from knee problem. Medicines prescribed by the doctors were given free of cost through a pharmacist deputed for the purpose.
Shri M.C. Bhandare, Governor of Odisha, was Chief Guest of the function His words of wisdom were a great source of inspiration both for the organizers and the patients. He expressed his appreciation for the spirit shown by entire group of doctors, untiring efforts of the organizers and cooperation shown by the residents of the area.
The Foundation's Counseling and Legal Aid Centre in Delhi, assisted by a panel of professional counselors, lawyers and volunteers rendered speedy and effective justice to women in distress during the year. The harassed victims, approaching police stations in distress, referred to us in the Gender Awareness Programmes, were provided free legal aid by our legal experts.
The Public Interest Litigation filed by the Foundation in the Supreme Court of India for the implementation of the statutory provisions for Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 is pending before the hon'ble court. The Foundation also got favorable orders for a number of destitute women and physically challenged citizens from courts.