Channel NewsAsia

Fighting for gender equality on Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day in the Indian capital will be celebrated as a day of justice for women and girls -- into its second year, it is part of a global call for "One Billion Rising" to rise for justice against gender-based violence.

NEW DELHI: The global "One Billion Rising" campaign on Valentine's Day has gained considerable public support in the Indian capital after the shocking gang rape of a para-medical student that resulted in her death in 2012.

One Billion Rising, or more commonly referred to as "Hundred Crore Rising" in India, is a call to people to participate in flash mobs, seminars, training camps and car rallies to raise awareness about gender violence.

Activist Kamala Bhasin, the South Asian coordinator for the programme, said this campaign is important to India as the present constitution does not guarantee the safety of women in the country.

She said: "For us, the opposite of violence is not just non-violence but the opposite of violence is 'love'. A person who indulges in violence, he loves power. He wants power. We are saying don't love power, but rather understand the power of love. That is the message on February 14."

Women's rights groups feel that since Valentine's Day is a day to celebrate love, the best way to do so would be to ensure that women and girls receive love in its true sense -- the security of life and liberty.

Between 2001 to 2012, reported incidents of rape in India have risen by more than 50 per cent. However, conviction rates have dropped from 41 per cent to 24 per cent.

In 2013, a new anti-rape law was introduced by the government but there has been no drop in gender violence in the country.

Rights activists have been reiterating that without gender equality and increased representation in parliament, women's voices will go unheard

Ranjana Kumari, a social activist, said: "It has been 17 years since we started fighting for the Women Reservation Bill. We have toured the entire country, went from village to village, it has been a struggle of 17 years. It is time that women get justice, women shouldn't be betrayed."

Organisers behind the One Billion Rising campaign are hoping Valentine's Day will go beyond the gifting of flowers and quiet dinners -- they are hoping the people of New Delhi will make a conscious decision towards ensuring gender equality and adhering to the rule of law.

For the second celebration of One Billion Rising, celebrities and ordinary Indians are going to join hands to send the message that violence against women and girls can no longer be tolerated and it is imperative that survivors of gender violence get justice. 

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna