SHILLONG: In a startling revelation at the launch of the national gender campaign Nayi Chetna 2.0, Meghalaya state recorded a concerning 58% increase in cases of sexual offences in the state.
The period spanning from 2007 to 2022 witnessed the highest instances of cases falling under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
This alarming trend prompted the state to take decisive action, culminating in the launch of Nayi Chetna 2.0 at the State Central Library on Monday.
Health Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, though participating virtually, delivered a poignant speech highlighting the global epidemic of gender-based violence, particularly against women and girls.
She stressed that approximately 1 in 3 women worldwide has encountered physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
As part of its extensive efforts to address this crisis, the state has successfully promoted 45,000 self-help groups (SHGs), engaging nearly 4.5 lakh women as active members throughout Meghalaya.
Lyngdoh acknowledged the progress made in Meghalaya, crediting the active participation of women in NRLM (National Rural Livelihoods Mission) programmes.
However, she also recognised the challenges associated with women in their rural settings and highlighted the need for community-driven solutions.
Deputy Commissioner Kurbah stressed the crucial role of the community in bringing about change, stating, “Community-based solutions are the only way to tackle ingrained societal problems.” She urged reflection on individual contributions on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, challenging the perception that women bear the brunt of responsibilities.
Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills District, R M Kurbah highlighted that gender violence isn’t exclusive to females, expressing concern for the safety of young boys.
The event included testimonies from SHG members, offering firsthand accounts of their experiences.
Principal Secretary Sampath Kumar underscored the significance of the SHGs programme, considering it a crucial building block for the nation.
He acknowledged SHGs as a systematic platform where millions of women actively contribute to problem-solving.
The Nayi Chetna campaign, launched on November 25, aims to advance the rights of women and gender-diverse individuals, fostering a life without fear, gender-based discrimination, and violence.
Running until December 23, the campaign seeks to encourage the reporting of such cases and establish gender resource centres at the cluster level through the SHG network to effectively combat instances of violence.
Chief Operating Officer Ronald Kynta expressed pride in Meghalaya’s selection for the campaign and announced plans to extend it to district and block levels, furthering the state’s commitment to addressing the alarming rise in sexual offences.