The Anne Klein Women’s Award 2020 goes to Prasanna Gettu, a human and women‛s rights activist from Chennai, India. Gettu, a criminologist, is a remarkable and courageous defender of human and women‛s rights, championing the right to a life free of violence, a life lived according to one‛s own wishes and in dignity and good health. Gettu established the Indian International Foundation for Crime Prevention & Victim Care (PCVC) that offers female victims of violence sustainable support options. In India, everyday life is characterised by a considerable propensity towards interpersonal violence, with most of the victims women and most of the perpetrators family members. Prasanna Gettu particularly advocates for the survivors of acid and arson attacks.
According to a G-20 study, published in 2012, India has the most hostile environment for women among the large nations of the world. This is because, in Indian society, violence against women and girls is an only too common phenomenon. Because of that, and despite the fact that formally in India women and men are equals before the law, India was ranked last in this study – and thus even lower than Saudi Arabia.
In India, patriarchal structures are part and parcel of peoples life and thought. This includes patrilocality, that is, the rule that, customarily, after marriage, women will leave their own family and become part of their husband‛s family. This system has a deep impact on women‛s social position and largely informs the structural discrimination of women. Within the husband‛s family, a new wife will initially be ranked bottom of the hierarchy, making her vulnerable to violence from her husband‛s kin.
Prasanna Gettu is unwilling to put up with this fact. Her organisation, the International Foundation for Crime Prevention & Victim Care, PCVC, which she founded in 2001 in Chennai, in the east of India, is fighting against domestic and intra-familial violence and especially against acid and arson attacks on women. Finally, in 2018, due to her efforts, a hotline was created for burn victims in acute emergency situations, as well as a medical facility offering trauma-sensitive support to such victims. In a joint effort with communities, medical facilities and the police, Prasanna Gettu is offering education and prevention programmes, as well as supporting child victims of domestic violence in ways that will let them escape further victimisation.
In addition, the organisation is a port of call for young LGBTIQ women who, as they often had to escape from their families, are without any other means of support. Despite personal threats and massive intimidation, Prasanna Gettu is steadfastly supporting the women and girls who have survived such violence.
In India, outside of the family, there are very few places where women may seek refuge. It is not least due to Prasanna Gettu‛s efforts, that this is slowly beginning to change. After a female student was brutally raped and killed by a number of men in December 2012, the Indian government instituted some reforms and protective measures, yet to little effect. In 2019, because of the high risk of sexual violence, the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked India as the most dangerous country in the world for women, ahead of Afghanistan and Syria, which came in second and third, respectively. According to the latest poll conducted by India‛s Ministry of Health, one in three women between the ages of 15 and 49 is subject to domestic violence.
In awarding the Anne Klein Women’s Award to Prasanna Gettu, the jury is honouring her great personal courage and her persistence in fighting for the right of all Indian women to lead a life free of violence and according to their own wishes; it also honours the compelling measures PCVC, an organisation she created, has undertaken to support women in crisis situations in a sustainable manner, including medical and legal support, as well as offering empowerment towards leading a self-determined life free of violence and pain; all of these efforts have resonated far beyond the subcontinent. Prasanna Gettu‛s life and activities have become a shining example for women and girls around the world.
The jury of the Anne Klein Women’s Award is composed of the following members:
- Barbara Unmüßig, co-president of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, chair of the jury
- Renate Künast, member of the German parliament, Alliance 90/The Greens
- Prof. Dr. Michaele Schreyer, vice president of the European Movement Germany
- Jutta Wagner, lawyer, former president of the German Chamber of Attorneys
- Thomas Herrendorf, interior decorator
Berlin, 9 December 2019
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