Speak Up… Stop the Silence Surrounding Violence!

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Gender-Based Violence – especially against Women is a critical social  issue in India. A multi-pronged approach, by all concerned, is required to address the issue.

The youths are an important section of society. What they feel, think and do about gender-based violence and all gender-related matters is important. Through this blog, we aim to stimulate youths and motivate them to address gender matters.

This blog is being started today on 25th November, which is observed internationally as Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.  25th Nov to 10th December is observed globally as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. We could not find anything better than this day to launch our interactive blog.

On the occasion of the 16 Days Campaign, let us salute to the 3 Mirabal Sisters – Patria, Minerva and Maria Mirabal who were killed on 25 November 1960 because they opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.

mirabel-sisters-2logo-to-mark-16-days-of-activism-against-gender-based-violence

 

The global theme for this year’s 16 Days Campaign is ‘Make Education Safe for All’, whereby we need to talk on how Gender-based violence with respect to the right to education is a consistent threat in public spaces, schools, and homes and is a detriment to the universal human right of girls  to education.

As per latest figures of Human Development Index for India, out of 100 girls who complete primary school education, only 27 girls complete their secondary schooling and matriculation. The reasons for dropout by various researchers showed that girls had to take care of siblings, or married at a younger age .. Now a significant number of girls are found to dropping out of school due to sexual abuse.

Almost 3 years ago, we had the law on sexual harassment at workplace in India that mandates employers to ensure dignified and sexual harassment-free work environment. The law is applicable to all educational institutions, apart from private and public sector establishments. And when we refer to educational institutions, people usually think of  Colleges and Universities when it comes to implementation of the law. There is a dearth of School Principals who have adhered to all the compliances under the law on sexual harassment at workplace and are taking periodic steps for prevention of sexual harassment in their campuses!  So let us talk about implementing the law in spirit and do our bit towards a dignified work environment for all.

While we are talking about Gender-based Violence, we need to also talk about Gender-based Violence and Abuse of Transgenders, Homosexuals and even Boys and Men. We must not forget that Patriarchy is the common enemy of us all. It’s the Patriarchy which tells that Men should not wear a sari, that every girl should get married and ensure the male dominance and supremacy continues, that men should suppress their emotions…. And in my 26 years of work in the development sector, I find that we are not working enough to build bridges of understanding and solidarity among all the 3 genders and collectively addressing gender-based discrimination.. Through the blog, let us attempt to promote this understanding and self-reflection through personal sharing and ventilation on a wide range of contemporary matters and pave the way towards a healthy gender-just society.

This blog is being launched today at the inauguration of a 2-day film festival on Gender, Sexuality and Relationships at Dr.BMN College of Home Science, Mumbai in the presence of a huge crowd of students and Faculty, and  representatives of civil society organizations  across Mumbai.

We look forward to responses, posts and sharings by youths and to engaging conversations on gender!

  • Harish Sadani

4 thoughts on “Speak Up… Stop the Silence Surrounding Violence!

  • December 2, 2016 at 6:45 pm
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    Congratulation to Men Against Violence And Abuse (MAVA) for starting the blog, “Youth for gender equality. This is very unique step for starting the discussion on such an important issue among youth. The theme for “16th Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign” is very relevant in Indian context, where education status of girls and women is very poor. Mr. Harish has mentioned the status of secondary education in India which has very direct link to violence towards girls and women.

    We have to ensure 100% enrolment of girls in secondary education, especially in rural areas. Much advocacy at community and policy level is needed to make this happened. Youth can take active part in this advocacy.

    Here, I share some facts about secondary education and its impact on girl’s wellbeing.

    The Seventh All India Educational Survey shows that, except few southern states, the enrolment of girls in secondary education in rural India is lower than that of boys and there are few secondary schools compared to primary schools. In rural areas girls have to stop their education at the most formative years of their life and this has severe repercussions on their quality of life, and awareness levels, which also make them unable to contribute to sustainable social and economic development of the community.

    Lack of education also keeps them away from health, resources and agency. Agency has been defined as the capacity to make choices through the acquisition of a sense of self and a sense of personal competence. In many villages of low literacy we meet girls with lower agency. Education, which we take for a better life and developing agency, does not really help the rural girls build up agency. Thus, lower agency and lack of resources make these girls weaker to face the structural inequalities and they continually become victim of violence.

    The welfare of girls is fundamental in determining economic and social outcomes. As per the Girls Count-2008 report of Center for Global Development, the well-being of girls is crucial for societies and protecting girls’ rights and fostering their opportunities is the right strategy for economic development. The condition of girls ripples out to their families, communities and countries, and echoes into future generations in particular and profound ways.

    Economic growth can occur with a more competitive labour force and lower dependency ratios. Girls with more schooling participate in greater numbers in the high-ranking labour force when they grow up and they are able to earn more for their families and society.

    The positive economic effects of fair access to education and employment for women go beyond labour force participation and productivity. Improvement in the status of girls and women would also lead to lower rates of childbearing. It is recognised universally that a woman with any secondary schooling has relatively few children.

    As childbearing declines, countries can exploit a period when the number of dependents per worker is low and thus the opportunity to increase national savings is high. In the right policy environment, as the dependency ratio falls, income per capita increases, savings rates can increase, and economies can expand.

    Improving the condition of girls and women fosters an involved citizenry and stronger, accountable and transparent governance. Educated girls and women are more likely to participate in social life and advocate for community improvement.

    Secondary schools with quality education, good infrastructure and community participation can work as a force of liberation and progress in rural areas. These schools can develop consensus amicably on contentious issues by questioning traditional practices and hierarchical social order.

    For all these reasons and many more our policy-makers have to consider the access to secondary and higher education in rural areas important and work towards its institutionalisation. Girls can really transform the society if we put the lamp of education in their hands.

    So, through this blog, let us try to make efforts to “Make Education Safe For All”

    Reply
  • January 11, 2017 at 5:07 pm
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    The article, published in The Hindu, on 11th January 2017, by Narayan Lakshman, focused the need for egalitarian society, where women will have an inviolable right to space and untrammelled dignities. He expressed the need for attitude change, strong law and “creative thinking to encourage the emergence of a new breed of more gender-sensitive men who may be capable of teaching themselves, fathers to sons and one generation after the other, to respect women not only in the privacy of their family settings but also in wider society and in public places.”
    Link of the article:
    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/Stemming-the-moral-rot-within/article17018976.ece

    After reading the article I was thinking about MAVA and its work, the great service for humanity.

    Reply
  • February 8, 2017 at 10:51 pm
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    A woman of substance has to face the power relation everywhere. Patriarchies are multiple and exist in household, community, state, caste and in other identities. To face the social dynamics woman has to learn the best negotiation way to assert herself. They also need to support each other and raise support for themselves.
    The story, “Stream of Consciousness”, written by me is based on real story. This is about a young girl’s struggle for justice to victim. I met the protagonist, Maina, when I was working in Bundelkhand region.
    It is inspiring to see how women members succeed in asserting themselves.

    Please see, if this story is ok for this blog.

    Stream of Consciousness

    Maina got down the last bus reaching to her village Mahapar.Her feet started walking on the Kacha road going towards her home. Her dark pink colour synthetic folded chunni was rounded around her neck, which she had with same colour Salwar Kurta.Her black oily hair were collected back in single plait, which was hanging down her back with white ribbon tied at the end. Otherwise always energetic her 4 feet tall body was looking tired; freshness on her wheat color complexion was patched by tensions.
    She entered the courtyard and sat down the platform raised against the wall of her katcha house. She hanged her bag in the wooden hook fixed in the white lime coated wall made of soil and stones. She got fresh in the bathroom build on the side of the courtyard, which’s wall were made from the twigs of Tur pulses plant. She wiped her face with her mother’s Sari spread over the wall of twigs. As soon as she came out Shubhangi gave her half glass of tea. Holding the hot still glass in her hand Maina let her sank in the Charpai covered with the thick dari which had a cover of her mother’s Sari .
    There were three years since Maina joined the grass root movement of political rights of the tribles.In those three years she become the face of the Sanghtan-Jan Kalyan Samit and participated in all agitation against passive and apartheid governance. At the age of nineteen she became very popular in 20 villages where movement was active. Maina was the pride of her mother and many women for whom she was fighting. She made them available the platform for coming together and courage to speaks without the long veil covered on the face.
    Evening was fall in the courtyard and air was getting little cold. Yellowish-orange flame from Chulah was throwing itself brightly around the soil coated aluminum pot. White foam was appearing under the lid of the pot.Tur Dal’s aroma was spread in the courtyard. Burning embers images were reflected in the Maina’s eyes. While sipping tea from the glass her eyes were fixed somewhere in the dark.

    Her whole being was crying and wanted to ask the whole group of men “why can’t we raise voice for investigation in Sudha’s murder? How can we keep silence when the neighborhood nine year old, Dalit girl was raped and murdered and then thrown in the mustered field?, How can we blame her mother for not taking proper care? And, how can we say nine year old child was characterless? These so many why and how she wanted to ask in the Sanghtan’s meeting, which was organized after a week of the incident in nearby village, but couldn’t asked as the entire incident moved to male members’ decision and reached to “not so important” in the priority list of Dharana.She couldn’t understand why the dominant personality were silent and left the decision to members who already were not sensitized around the issues of violence against girls and women.

    Spectator male mob surrounded by Sudha’s body, her inconsolable wailing lonely mother near her child’s body, and shun away community’s women presence from the scene; were making her weak. Little Sudha couldn’t get justice from her community where she was born, learned, played and laughed…than the only sympathetic word “unfortunate child”.

    Shubhangi were aware of Maina’s restlessness. “They don’t value the lower cast girls”, Shubhangi said while turning the Chapati on the embers. She continued, “Generation passed and still this feudalism not ended, still they are successfully reaching to all those flowers grown in the pasture and destroy them for their carnal pleasures. Shubhangi started speaking with the voice of frustration and helplessness. “But you are right my dear child, talking against it. You have great capacity. I will ask two or three women from each village to come for Dharana. Sanghtan is also ours too”, said Shubhangi with confident. She continued, “Listen carefully-organizing Dharana for Janch in Sudha’s case is not your decision, this would be the decision of women, and you are only with us.” Saying this, mystic grin was spread over Shubhangi’s face, which was brightening in yellow flame of Chula. This is the beginning of resistance which would be mobilizing under young leadership, uttered Shubhangi, staring towards burning embers.

    Shubhangi’s words were stream of consciousness, which was taking Maina with unlimited speed of willingness. This willingness now got the hold of understanding of ages and experiences of life’s rigorousness, which was molding her understanding. She has got the way of negotiation with benevolent patriarchy while remaining triumphed inside the same community.

    A woman of substance has to face the power relation everywhere. Patriarchies are multiple and exist in household, community, state, caste and in other identities. To face the social dynamics woman has to learn the best negotiation way to assert herself.

    Rujuta Deshmukh
    rujutadeshmukh@gmail.com

    Reply

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