Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Common man can also approach Night Gazetted Officers

Commissioner of Police, Neeraj Kumar has allocated special mobile phone numbers for the Deputy Commissioner, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Rotation Night GOs on duty) and for every Night Gazetted Officer in all of the 11 districts/zones in Delhi. This is to enable all of these officers to be easily contacted by senior police officials between 11:00pm and 5:00am during their night duties and to convey any important instruction to them. Apart from the senior officials, common people can also reach the officers during the night in case of any emergency.

Control rooms can also coordinate with night gazetted officers on these special numbers, to ensure effective and immediate action. Deputy Commissioners and Additional Deputy Commissioners are deputed for the city of Delhi and District level Night Gazetted Officers are deputed in districts as night officers on duty.

The allocated mobile numbers would remain the same for any officer on night duty for separate zonal divisions.

S.No District Mobile No
1 PCR (PHQ) Night Gazetted 8750870099
2 North Delhi 8750870199
3 South-West Delhi 8750870299
4 Outer Delhi 8750870399
5 Central Delhi 8750870499
6 New Delhi 8750870599
7 East Delhi 8750870699
8 North Delhi 8750870799
9 South Delhi 8750870899
10 South-East Delhi 8750870999
11 South-West Delhi 8750871099
12 West Delhi 8750871199

Friday, 21 December 2012

Justice for Gang Rape Victim and Safer City for Women

W.P.(C) No.7927/2012

1. This Court on its own motion has taken up this matter concerning with the occurrence dated 16.12.2012 wherein a 23 year old girl became the victim of gang-rape in a moving bus in the city of Delhi. Having regard to the serious concern expressed by a large number of women lawyers on 18.12.2012, a Division Bench of this Court consisting of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Vipin Sanghi directed the matter be listed as Public Interest Litigation and placed before this Bench.

2. There is no doubt that the incident dated 16.12.2012 is of a great concern to all law abiding citizens of this city and it is the right time that the citizens of this capital city must be ensured safety, particularly, the women and girl children going to schools, colleges, work-places, etc.

3. We have heard Mr. Pawan Sharma, learned Standing Counsel (Crl.) for the Govt. of NCT of Delhi. Having expressed a great concern, the learned Standing Counsel has submitted that immediately after the occurrence, the police have started investigation into the matter and one person has been arrested and remanded apart from three other persons were also arrested and they are produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate today. He further stated that the investigation would be completed in a period of one month and by that time the charge-sheet will be filed.

4. Mr. N. Waziri, learned Standing Counsel for the Govt. of NCT of Delhi has submitted that Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been constituted to investigate the case which is headed by Ms. Chhaya Sharma, DCP and the investigation has been carried on with utmost sincerity so that the culprit will be brought to book without any delay.

5. We have considered the above submissions. The issue concerns with two basic but important questions, viz. (i) the investigation and (ii) preventive measures taken by the police to curb such occurrence. As far as investigation is concerned, we direct the following:

The investigation by the SIT shall continue and the status report on the same so far made shall be filed before this Court on 21.12.2012. The investigation must be of high standard and there shall not be any lacuna.

6. As far as preventive measures are concerned, after hearing all concerned, this Court would be giving suitable guidelines for the same. However, as we are informed, the bus in which the girl was gangraped had travelled on Delhi Road at least for 40 minutes and there were at least three PCRs and there was police surveillance also. We are lost to understand as to how the bus escaped from the surveillance of the police in spite of three PCRs on the route where the bus had travelled when the police were supposed to have a regular patrolling as well as to check the vehicles.

7. Hence, the Commissioner of Police is directed to file a report on the above giving the details of the police officials who were posted at the relevant point of time including the police officials who were patrolling the duty during the relevant period and the actions, if any taken, against the erring officials. The Commissioner of Police shall also file a report on the steps being taken to prevent such occurrence in future. The Commissioner of Police shall also ensure that the directions of the Supreme Court to remove the sun-control films and tinted glasses from all the vehicles including the public transports as well. Commissioner of Police shall report as to the steps taken to implement the directions of the Supreme Court for removal of sun-control films or the tinted glasses beyond the permissible limit. We also direct the Commissioner of Police to ensure that no vehicle is plied within the territory of Govt. of NCT of Delhi in contravention of the directions of the Supreme Court. A report on the same shall be filed on the next adjourned date.

8. Mr. Waziri stated that the officials are facing difficulty in implementing the Supreme Court s direction, particularly, in respect of vehicles coming from other States. It is not as if the police machinery could not check those vehicles and ensure that sun control films or tinted glasses vehicles are removed as and when they enter the territory of Delhi, particularly, at the toll-gates and check posts where sufficient numbers of police can be deployed. This exercise shall also include to see that no vehicle runs with screens put up in windows.

9. We hope that the order of the Supreme Court as well as the above directions will strictly be complied with by the police thereby no vehicle with sun-control films or tinted glasses runs in the territory of Delhi.

10. As far as medical care to be given to both the victim girl and her male friend is concerned, Mr. Waziri states at the bar that if possible both of them will be shifted to the speciality hospital to offer the best possible medical treatment. If it is not possible to shift the victims, the required expert in the field will be called to the hospital where the victims are admitted so that they may be given the best possible medical treatment. The said statement is recorded and we hope it will be strictly followed.

11. We also direct that the Director of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory shall ensure that as and when the police approach him for the forensic report, such a report shall be furnished without any delay for whatever reason.

12. Call this matter on 21st December, 2012 at 3.30 p.m. Copy of order be given dasti under the signature of the Court Master.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Thank you for not helping!

By "Safe Delhi"
4th dec 2012. 7.30 pm. AIIMS metro station, gate no. 3. Right in between two of the busiest hospitals in Delhi. I was coming back from a happy day. Delhi metro, one of the safer modes of transport in Delhi (relativity to their advantage).

Got up on the escalator at the exit, there's nobody around me or behind me, but it seems ok. As I'm going up I can see a man's face at the other end of the escalator, he is standing at the escalator's ramp, off the escalator, so only his face is visible right now. He looks at me like how most men in Delhi do, the way that makes me want to punch them. Then he looks around quickly and starts staring at me again. By this time I can see his torso too and by the way he is looking at me, I can make out that something's wrong.

He looks like a midle-aged man, average build, slightly overweight, dusky. He looks in one direction, like he's looking at someone, and looks back at me.

The escalator goes up, he is masturbating. With his genitals out of his pants. He is standing there at the station exit, facing me, in his woolen cap(white-grey), sleeveless sweater(white grey) over a shirt (light blue) and grey trousers with the zip unfastened. He is rubbing his genitals and has a poly bag, the kinds typically patients or relatives carry (look like they have some papers and reports in them by the shape - flat and square). He is looking straight at me. It takes me a second to understand it. I know there's nobody on the stairs/escalator behind me, so I know shouting won’t help except it will make him run away and there would be nothing done about it. I quickly reach into my bag to take out my phone, so that I could capture him or call the cops in case he tries to attack me. He understands what that could mean for him and gets in a frenzy. Almost like he never expected this to happen. Before I could get hold of my cell, he takes off. I run after him, only to lose him in the traffic (I saw him cross to the aiims hospital side). I look at the side of the station where I thought he was looking. I see two men sitting on the railing and looking at me. They looked like they were watching everything happen.

There were so many people there on the main road, a little distance away. He was just facing the other direction and he thought he could do something like that. I felt unsafe. I looked around to find any policeman/guard/ security official. Anyone. Couldn't find anyone. I walked towards my home as I have, at times, seen a PCR van standing outside the gate. It wasn't there. I turned back once to go back to the metro station hoping to see what could be done but I felt too unsafe to go back alone.

I reached home at 7.40 pm. As soon as I reached home I rushed to my room and called the women's helpline (1091), around 7.42 or 7.43pm.
A female voice answered. I asked them "hello, kya me ek sexual harassment ka case yahan report kar sakti hu?".
Police officer- "hanji bataiye".
Me- "me abhi abhi aiims metro station se nikal rahi thi, ek aadmi waha khada mujhe dekhte hue masturbate kar raha tha".
Police Officer- "madam aap us hi waqt waha khade khade report karte to hum kuch karte na".
Me- "haan, par wo to waise bhi bhaag gaya".
Police Officer (rudely) - "to bataiye ab kaha kaha dhundegi police usse".
Me- "dhund to nahi payegi par kya ise report...
Police Officer - (yelling)- "madam ye 100 number se connected number hai, police ka number hai."
Me- "acha to aisa kuch hone par me kaha report kar sakti hu.........
No response. I realized she had already disconnected after her statement.

Whatever happened to ‘ with you, for you, always ‘ ?? Is this helpline just a mere formality ? What action will be taken against this man ? I am trying every method known to me. With the help of an NGO I have sent letters to the Delhi Police ( The Commissioner, Crime against women cell, Hauz Khas police station ( as AIIMS is under their Jurisdiction ), Delhi Metro. They keep on telling us to speak up. But where? how? Every night there are discussions on TV about women’s safety, is it all talk ? Will it ever translate into action ? Many questions, hope a few get answered.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Thank you for nothing!

By Lea Goelnitz, Intern in Gender Training Institute - Centre for Social Research
Over a week passed and India is still outraged over the Guwahati molestation case, which by now also hit the international press, where the incident caused shock and disbelief as well.

Yesterday the National Commission for Women (NCW), which objective is to represent the rights of women in India and to provide a voice for their issues and concerns, commented on the matter.

The involvement of the NCW in the case already started with a scandal. Alka Lamba member of the team that investigated the Guwahati molestation case stated the victims name publicly. Alka Lamba was consequnetly removed from the team.

As if this unprofessional faux pas was not damaging enough already, Mamta Sharma, the chief of the NCW managed to top the previous scandal by sabotaging the work of campaigns and awareness raising strategies against violence against women with the most absurd comment.

Matma Sharma stated that women should be careful about the way they dress because such incidents are a result of blindly aping the West.

Suggesting that there should be a dress code for women to ensure their safety, Sharma said that aping the West blindly was eroding Indian culture and causing such crimes to happen.

She said:” Be comfortable, but at the same time be careful about how you dress."

It is scandalous that a reactionary comment like that is coming from a woman who is supposed to be a supporter of women’s rights.

What is most outrageous and also dangerous about this comment is that it is a well documented and proven fact that what a woman wears has no impact whatsoever on her safety!

Comments like that feed into the victim-blaming approach, which is the very problem which hinders effective policies and strategies to ensure safety from violence in public places.

As long as the majority of society believes that it is women’s own fault if she gets harassed or raped, there will never be enough pressure put on authorities and the police to direct resources into the protection of women and the perpetrators will walk free without feeling guilty.

Women do not cause street harassment. It is the low status of women and the unequal power relations of gender which cause street harassment. This has nothing to do with what a women wears or if it is daytime or night time.

A great project by Blank Noise collected clothing for the “I Never Ask for It” campaign to visually demonstrate the range of clothing women are wearing when men harass them. Have a look at the some of the clothes here.  This is helpful in creating awareness towards harassment.

Comments regarding women’s dress and behavior are not helpful at all; they discredit women’s rights work and are false.

Thank you for nothing, Matma Sharma.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Street harassment

By Lea Goelnitz, Intern in Gender Training Institute - Centre for Social Research
Usually my day starts with reading the news, but ever since I live in India, I always reconsider spoiling my sweet papaya or mango for breakfast, turning it to taste bitter, by reading what is going on in the streets of India. But anyway, as I m into politics and I am interested in current affairs I usually end up picking up the paper and read….

Just this week Guwahati top cop: Police not an ATM machine that arrives instantly a girl in Guwahati was molested by 20 men and no one did anything. The police came after 30 minutes and by now four of the men are arrested. The whole incident was filmed and some more men were identified on the tape, but they could not have been arrested yet. As if this poor law enforcement and the late police response are not already reason enough to be outraged. What makes me even angrier is that regardless of the fact if these guys get arrested or not, thanks to Indian law it is not very likely that justice will be achieved.

The charges against the arrested men are Section 341 (wrongful restraint), Section 143 (unlawful assembly), Section 294 (obscene act), Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), Section 354 (assault or criminal force on a woman with the intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This seems like a heavy load of violations. But all these are have the option of bailout and the punishments are extremely disproportioned to the damage the violations cause. The punishment for causing voluntary hurt is either one year imprisonment or to pay Rs. 1000 or both. Additionally, everyone knows how overloaded Indian courts are; it takes ages until a case is actually dealt with. This further undermines the power of those seeking justice.

These are severe crimes, resulting in physical and psychological damage and even death. There needs to be new and better laws and actual law enforcement addressing violence against women in public.

Another morning, same situation…. I find an article Baghpat Panchayat issues a Taliban-style diktat to women in which I discover that I am not the only one thinking about women’s safety in public places. Some men in the Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat area are very concerned about street harassment in their villages and decide to do something against it.


Their “solution” is that all women under 40 years of age (because women over 40 do not get harassed!?) are not allowed to go to the market unescorted and are not allowed to use mobile phones (because one could use it to call a friend or the police for help!?). And there will be “severe punishment for the women who violate this code of conduct”.

Obviously, these rules are unacceptable and not helpful in any way. This reaction to harassment is part of the problem not the solution. This women-blaming approach to harassment in India makes change even more difficult. The euphemism “eve teasing” which is the most common term used for street harassment makes it sound harmless and focuses on the women not the perpetrators.

Unfortunately, stories of street harassment are not out of my life once I trash the newspaper.

By the time I get to the shop nearby to get milk I am done with my share of being ‘checked out’ stared at, approached and talked to.

When I meet my flat mate at home after work, I ask “how was your day?” but it does not mean” how are you and what did you do at work today?” in the first place. No it turned into “how was it to be out in the streets today? Which kinds of public harassment were you exposed to today and how was your reaction to it?”

We debate on the advantages and disadvantages of pepper spray and other “weapons”, we strategize on routes to take to places and on responses we give in which situation to which men, considering what is possible to do and say in regard to the amount of men, the level of aggression and if it is daytime or night time. We applaud each other when we managed to react in a way which did not leave us feel powerless. This does not happen that often.

Even „lighter“ forms of harassment are violence lead to a feeling of insecurity and fear and the need to be on guard all the time. They make women think about what to wear (not that this actually has an impact), to reflect on their attitude and behaviour, strategize the timing, the way, how and with whom they go to work, school or to see friends. Of course, I too, do all of this.

But even with all this logisitcs, strategies and adjustments, women are not rewareded for that by being safe. Neither are these restrains publicly acknowledged.

I feel harassed when I receive unwanted attention in the street (for the record, basically all of it is unwanted), and the only one who decides what is unwanted is me. When I am alone in public, I am usually going somewhere deliberately. I am on my way to get a rickshaw, see a friend, and go to a shop or to work. I do not just hang out by myself (especially not in the dark).

So when strange men talk to me or stare at me, that means it is assumed that whatever I am up to do is less important than what they are doing and it is fine to interrupt me and demand my attention.

Street harassment is a strategy to scare women away from the public space so they do not work or go to school, earn their own money, go into politics, make decisions, claim property and take power.

So the message to me on a personal level is that I am made to feel uncomfortable and out of place because I dared to be in the male dominated public space, where according to them I should not be. I am being punished for participating in everyday life!

I came up with a new hobby. I am counting women. Everywhere I go, I count how many other women also dared to go. There need to be a lot more. The feeling of safety would increase if more women were out in public. In order for more women to be out in public, it needs to be safer.

Another vicious cycle to break…..

It should start with every parent telling their son “Do not harass!” instead of telling their daughter “Be careful!” (because that does not really help).

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

“I am a girl. Why would I support female foeticide?”

By Aarushi Sharma, Intern – Centre for Social Research
The question in itself is the answer, bringing to mind all those mothers who had willingly or unwillingly been forced to abort their own girl child. Is a girl’s life absolutely worthless? Does female foeticide convolute the understanding of a normative concept of ‘motherhood’? Female fetuses are rampantly sabotaged, detached and secretively abandoned. Often, they are casually flushed or disposed into the garbage dump, and if nothing works, are fed to dogs. Apologies for the ghastly visual description, this indeed is the truth. If ‘survival of the fittest’ is the custom, why not let nature decide? A society should not create any sort of gender prejudices or segregation. This is an oft reiterated incantation, though hardly implemented. Female foeticide is the crime against women and girl child in its worst debased form. Despite the fact that all of us are well aware, it is still practiced and self-righteously advocated.

An ICRW (International Center for Research on Women) study revealed that the preference for sons is strong in India, but not universal. The balance of sons and daughters is “desirable” for most women. It implies that few girls should have been desired! Remaining unwanted might be ‘managed’ conveniently through sex-selective abortions. It further states that wealth and economic development do not reduce son preference. It is a socio-cultural and religious construct. Mother’s education is the single most deciding factor in reducing son preference.

Are we not responsible enough to raise a girl child? Or is it the mindset which creates hindrance? It is time we start interrogating the established social conventions, isn’t it…

Monday, 11 June 2012

Helmet Law in India - Religious Sensitivity vs Safety and The Status of Women

By Lea Goelnitz, Intern – Centre for Social Research
The India Federal Motor Vehicles Law of 1988 required everyone on a 2-wheeler to wear a helmet. But the Sikh community raised religious objections, as its men have to wear a turban, which a helmet cannot accommodate. These complaints were successful and Sikh men were exempt from the helmet rule. But why are women also excluded from this rule?

On one hand there are religious concerns, as women in the Sikh religion are not allowed to cover their head at all, which also contradicts the helmet requirement. As it is impossible to differentiate between a Sikh and a non-Sikh woman, it was decided that all women will be exempt from the helmet rule. They can however, wear it voluntarily, which not a lot of do. One excuse why women are less likely to wear helmets is that they are expensive and often there is only one helmet per household, which is usually worn by the man. Other excuses for not wearing a helmet are that it would ruin the hairstyle and it looks too masculine. Women carrying children also excuse themselves by saying that they cannot take care of the child, while wearing a helmet.

The law which exempts women, reflects a sense of discrimination against them and seems to treat women as second-class citizens. Their lives are less valued than that of men; which is reflected by the lack of political will to challenge religious relativism and to tackle socio-economic issues undermining women’s safety. Making the helmet compulsory would reflect a rising concern for their safety.

As India has more road accidents than any other country and not wearing a helmet makes one more vulnerable to serious head injuries and death, the law needs to be strengthened in favor of women, especially if it requires challenging religious concerns and structural inequalities. Discrimination against women needs to be tackled in all aspects of life, therefore it is essential that ratification and enforcement of the helmet law will be taken seriously. A news report from last month claims that there are efforts to change the law soon and that women will no longer be able to ride helmet- free (at least in Delhi). R. Chandra Mohan, the Delhi Transport Commissioner, states that awareness raising campaigns to target individuals to make them consider wearing a helmet might be more successful than targeting the entire religious community, which could result in a backlash. Making all two wheeler users- men, women and children- wear helmets does not require funds or expertise. All that it requires is a change in mind set, that is, to value and protect the lives of all members of society.

#Ask4Hope: Tweetathon on the relationship between mental health and violence against women

By Leela Khanna, Intern – Centre for Social Research
The recent tweethathon, a new initiative launched by Bell Bajao and I Stand for Safe Delhi, addressed the relationship between mental health and violence against women. The topic focused upon the effects of domestic violence on women’s mental and psychological health. This week’s tweetathon included contributions from clinical psychologist Prachi Vaish, who is the founder of offers free online counselling for people seeking therapy, including victims of domestic violence, from psychologists and experts. Vaish was a guest contributor for Bell Bajao and offered her expert insight on why some women choose abusive partners.

The tweetathon began with @Bell_Bajao asking the question why the “psychological effects of violence against women is rarely discussed,” to which @runjoo replied, “we still shy away from discussing ‘psychological’ as a whole, lot of stigma with anything psychological.” @HopeNetwork4U agreed with @runjoo, and added that “women are blamed if there is domestic trouble,” and also tweeted about a research conducted on 140 women found that “64 percent had a lifetime history of physical and/or sexual abuse.” @HopeNetwork4U’s tweet, which was written by Vaish, relates closely with her article on women choosing abusive partners. Vaish’s article argues that abusive victims often remain in abusive relationships because “they were made to feel, as children, that they are not valued; so they don’t matter.” Childhood neglect, parental abuse, and stigmas surrounding girl children, could result in women not feeling loved as adults and cause them to stay in abusive relationships.

The tweetathon then led into a discussion on other forms of abuse such as mental and psychological, which people often overlook when discussing domestic violence. @yomegh questioned, “how does one know is a friend is suffering from mental abuse?” @HopeNetwork4U answered by tweeting that emotional/psychological abuse is often more impactful than physical abuse, because the “woman doesn’t know she’s being abused.” She went on tweet later that common symptoms of mental abuse are chronic physical complaints, such as headaches and body aches.

@Isfsd_csr later tweeted that “not all women experiencing domestic violence were raised unloved. What are other reasons of women not leaving?” This led into a discussion of the numerous reasons why women choose to stay in abusive relations. @HopeNetwork4U suggested that abusers manipulated women by threatening to harm her kids if she left, @runjoo stated that some women may see the abuse as an “extreme form of love,” and @bell_bajao mentioned financial dependence as a reason why the victim doesn’t leave the abuser.

The conversation slowly came to an end with @nahi_chalega reiterating that “we tend to forget the forms that violence takes: open verbal becomes sophisticated sarcasm in so-called upper classes,” and @isfsd_csr tweeting that “a woman who has lost self confidence won’t approach help easily.”

This tweetathon was inspired by the lack of conversation present on the mental health of women suffering domestic violence. While domestic violence is often discussed in terms of the physical harm the victim experiences, many people forget that constant abuse, physical or verbal, may have significant mental impacts as well., founded by Vaish, is an organisation that provides counseling for women experiencing mental problems due to violence. Initiatives like bring about the conversation of mental health to the forefront, which is a key way of helping thousands of women suffering from abusive relationships.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

#SpeakUpMan- A tweetathon on the role of men in the fight on gender based violence

By Ranjani Raghunathan, Intern – Centre for Social Research
On Wednesday, 30th May 2012, @Bell_Bajao and @isfsd_csr initiated their second tweetathon entitled #SpeakUpMan (read about the first: #Genderinmedia)

@Bell_Bajao and @isfsd_csr started the tweetathon with the question “Why is it important to have men involved in the fight against gender based violence?” One of the first replies came from @OneVoiceGBV “As men are equally involved in each aspect of it, the only way to reduce it is to have the one board” @rainbowavenger from Malaysia pointed out that “Men are the perpetrators of most gender based violence. Not just about having a partner to work with, but changing mindsets too” @CSR_India concurred with her on the point on of changing mindsets of people. @Blank_Noise and @AmiFromIndia said that gender based violence is a social issue, and not just a gender issue, and must be tackled by every member of the society. @MendNow said “we should talk about everyone’s rights”.

Gender In Media

@koobear felt that feminists tend to push away men, which causes them to be further distanced from causes such as gender based violence, as they then see it as merely a gender issue. @GotStared corroborated this by tweeting “in our experience women led NGOs don't trust male led ones!” @MustBol said “there should be peace & reconciliation. Not revenge.”

@UberSchizo shared his personal experience of not even knowing a few years ago that street harassment is so common, and said that he realized it only when a girlfriend of his faced it.

@Bell_Bajao said “So we establish that men tend to feel left out or unwanted when it comes to #vaw” and then went on to say “We don't want that. What can we do to make issues such as #genderequality more male-friendly?” This was corroborated by @iWomenLeaders.

@runjoo said “we need to make it socially acceptable for men to be 'feminists' or speaking about gender issues” and @ankitavivek agreed to this point. @BPiali said “GBV should be uprooted from homes, GBV starts even before the child sees the light of day”. @halabol suggested that “Men can check their thoughts and actions towards women on a day to basis! thats a start!” @pallavikaushal agreed to this and said “start with ourselves. Make sure you don't let it happen with your friends and gender-b-violence both physical and mental!” @vivek2025 said “Be a man and fight violence against women and gender discrimination in our homes, our friend circles, our work places, our public spaces”. @HopeNetwork4U suggested “How about getting men to do sensitization training for other men?”

Many ideas for awareness generation among men came up. Some tweeters felt that the internet caters to a niche audience, and efforts must be taken to the real world to really make a difference. To this @MustBol said “virtual still has incredible outreach and anonymity and ease. Move on ground as well, but online costs less” @nauveen from Pakistan said “Media in it's all forms can be very influential for one, atleast if not a tv, most villages do have radios etc”.

@EndingViolence from Vancouver, Canada tweeted “We've been following #SpeakUpMan tweet-a-thon - very much appreciating the way men are urging other men to own their role to end #VAW@EndingViolence also retweeted many of the tweets.

Finally, the @_thealternative made a meme on the tweetathon to reflect the idea of men being equal partners in the fight against gender based violence.

And thus ended the second tweetathon, with more than 400 tweets, as opposed to around 250 tweets in last week’s session. Do we think that tweetathons will go to make a huge difference in society, or the way people think? No we’re not so idealistic. But this tweetathon did bring forth some core features about the role and involvement of men in the fight against gender based violence. One particular issue which was reiterated again and again, was that the concept of gender based violence should move from a gender specific focus to a more holistic approach- that is, it affects men and women alike, and only when we come together as a society, can this problem be tackled.

Gender based violence is not a new concept. Since time immemorial, this issue has been raised over and over again. Yet it continues to prevail, and rampantly at that. It means that despite an increase in education, increase in wealth and literacy, the societal attitudes on violence against women have not reduced. And while Twitter may be classified and dismissed as a niche medium of communication, catering to the very elite, the fact that an issue like gender based violence generated so many varied responses, from across the country and the world, is proof of the prevalent nature of this social evil. This, and the universal need and desire to put an end to it. Many of the suggestions for solutions mentioned that change needs to start from one self. A society which is free from gender based violence can only emerge from individuals, who bring about change in their every day attitudes and behaviours.

Friday, 27 April 2012

What Witnessing Domestic Violence Does To A Child

By Vani, Intern – Bell Bajao
When children see some female member being physically abused, it almost invariably has a very strong effect on them. There is of course, the impact of seeing violence at close quarters, being inflicted on someone they love (perhaps a mother or a sister). This could result in a whole lot of nasty side effects such as paranoia and general wariness, guilt and self blame, and a feeling of being trapped. Chances are that the child’s attitude will also seriously suffer, towards women in general, and the victim in particular. The child may believe that it is the victim’s fault if she is abused, and that it is perfectly permissible to physically abuse women as their father or some other male relative is doing it without any apparent guilt or fear of being caught.

Since violence against women is so prevalent in our country, children belonging to families in nearly all economic groups are liable to witness it either in their own homes or in the homes of friends and relatives. And since women don’t stand up for themselves, whether out of fear for the consequences or because they feel they deserve what they get, or even because they’re embarrassed, children (particularly younger ones) begin to feel that there is nothing wrong with what they see. And when (and if) education catches up with them, they find it difficult to shake the attitude ingrained in them at an impressionable age. And others feel that if the previous generation could get away with it, why can’ they.

In a lot of cases of domestic violence, children aren’t just passive witnesses. They are forced to become active participants too. In some cases it might be suggested that their bad behaviour serves as an excuse to abuse their mother. In some cases, children might even be encouraged to join in the abuse. During certain incidents children may even try to protect the person being abused, which could result in their punishment by the abuser.

Even if domestic abuse takes place behind closed doors and the child is not witness to any physical act, it can have a huge impact on the child’s life. If the mother decides to go in for a divorce, prolonged custody battles, parents fighting over who gets to keep the child (or worse, who doesn’t want the child) can lead to emotional stress and trauma. Even if the mother puts up with the abuse and stays married, chances are the home atmosphere becomes one of fear, worry, guilt and even anger.

At the end of the day, one thing seems glaringly clear, while there is domestic violence going on at home, it will have a significant effect on the psychological make-up of the child and may even alter the child’s character in the developmental stage. The obvious, but under-implemented solution to this problem is; end domestic violence at once. Women should be told to stand up for themselves and to have enough faith in themselves to walk out of an abusive relationship. And above all, the mindset that encourages domestic violence and the vicious cycle that leads to its propagation must be phased out. Children learn by example, and while they witness physical violence at home and observe the victim’s acceptance of it, they will continue to believe that domestic violence is perfectly justified, and we will get a new generation of aggressive abusers and submissive victims.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Silence Supports Violence, speak out loud against Rape!

By Ranjani Raghunathan, Intern – Media & Communication Division
On Tuesday, 13th March 2012, we all got up to the news of a woman pub employee in Gurgaon, gang raped while on her way back home from work. It bothered all of us, but most of us, shrugged it aside. Delhi NCR has become notorious for rape- what can really be done? thought most of us.

The youth of Delhi NCR however, thought differently. They didn’t see the rape as just an incident of crime; what they saw was a shocking reflection of the society as a whole, where pulling a woman out of a car and raping her is so very easy, and for that same woman to get justice, is tremendously difficult. Tuesday saw a host of angry Twitter conversations, blog posts, Facebook statuses and SMSes, which gained further momentum after Deputy Commissioner of Gurgaon PC Meena stated that women employees in Gurgaon should stop working after 8 p.m. This prompted Must Bol, a youth initiative, to do something concrete. Says Manak Matiyani of Must Bol “The news and the reaction of the police angered me, and I knew that something had to be done. The first step was to express solidarity, and gather people.” So the idea of a march was floated, organizations such as Halabol, Jagori, Breakthrough and CSR joined in, and spread the word across social media. The result? Close to 250 people from Delhi NCR gathered at Sahara Mall, Gurgaon on Wednesday evening, to express solidarity for the rape victim, and to protest against the increasing rise of rape in the country.

The march comprised of many people from various walks of life & it also included nongovernmental organizations. Rape is not just a gender issue, or an issue which affects only women- it is a social issue, and affects each and every one of us. Rape doesn’t see class or caste boundaries, or what you are wearing, or where you are working; it can happen to anyone, any time, yes even before 8 p.m. And even if it has never happened to any of us, or someone we know, the fear of rape is deep ingrained in each one of us.

The people gathered at Sahara Mall on Wednesday evening, weren’t protesting for something magnificent- they were not anti-government, nor did they ask for any change in government policies. All they wanted to convey was that it shouldn’t be this easy to rape a woman, to violate her rights. Says Matiyani, “We wanted to get across the point that the police needs to prevent and stop these things. There has to be a fear of punishment, which can only happen if the police stands up. There has to be greater security.”

Where does this movement go from here? Matiyani says that many groups in Gurgaon, such as Gurgaon Walkers, Gurgaon Moms, have gotten mobilized, and want to follow up on this case, and the larger issue of security, further. A few more protests and sit-ins are planned. The people are very angry and it is important that this anger is communicated effectively and strongly to the stakeholders who can really make a difference. But in addition to this, a change needs to be brought about in the attitudes of people- that rape is NOT okay and that NO woman asks for it, regardless of what she’s wearing or where she’s working, or what time she leaves office. When a single woman is raped, its the society at large which gets wounded. And it’s high time we as a nation realize the extremity of the situation at hand and work against it in every manner possible.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Most women do not want this

By Sumitro Chatterjee, Corporate lawyer and a true Delhi boy.
Perception, it’s a dirty word. The process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. Most humans are very bad at interpreting. We interpret how a woman is, just by looking at her or hearing things about her. She may be the most religious in her heart or the most caring, but if she thinks freely a large population will characterize her as they perceive. What is most interesting to observe is the behavior of the male sect who will go to same parties, gaze at the same girls with short dresses, and want to dance with them and if they get to chat her up then maybe take her back home. In a city like Delhi to achieve the conclusion of my previous statement is a rare occurring, and on not achieving the end men drink more to satisfy their ego and numb their brain and in their drunken confidence recount to their male dominated sausage fest about the loose thread holing her moral fiber (aka 'she is a whore') . In our city if you go to any nice club a sight often seen is where a girl or a group of girls are being closely protected by their male counterparts and rightly so as the others staring are mostly savages and having an intelligent conversation with them will make pigs fly! However, sometimes there are men who are genuinely interested in talking to a lovely lady. In this situation let’s call her male counterparts; protecting her from preying eyes; the 'protection group'. This protection group doesn't take it very sportingly when another alpha male preys in their territory and this leads to easily recognizable sounds of hostility from them. Now the problem starts when the woman is also willing to talk to this stranger. The protection groups do not fancy such an act and in most cases call her a slut or a woman with low moral values. It is funny to analyze such a situation as most likely these men are frustrated and/or are looking to get off with this woman. They are also many a times 'close' friends.
Lately, I have notice a tilt towards the better, where in some very high ended places men and women both interact freely with no judgment of any sorts. This is a rarity and is like the paradise of what most like minded dream about. This mentality will not change in one day as this stigma has the reach of the highest class and has a good ring to it! This perception sounds like you are trying to 'protect' women and in their benefit. The reality is that most women do not want this kind of protection; they want the freedom to walk the streets when it’s a full moon, dance when it rains and whistle when India wins.

Every human being wants to interact and showcase their personality to whosoever is interested. Let us not bound them with our chains of perception!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Chains of perception!

By Sumitro Chatterjee, Corporate lawyer and a true Delhi boy.
While I was standing outside my office smoking the last cigarette of the day, I saw 2 very aggravated young men fighting with the guard outside my Bombay office. The reason was 'simple': how can some women stand outside on the streets and smoke. They should be taken inside the office premises. This was against their 'cultural' and 'ethical, standards. Obviously, they were MNS goons whose headquarter was right next to our office building. This was quiet shocking for me not because some guys used the garb of morality to demean woman, but more so because this was happening in Bombay, the city of free. I had stayed in this truly cosmopolitan city for more than 2 years and saw the freedom that this city gave to the modern woman. My shock was then turned into laughter and then intense anger. The situation soon turned ugly with more and more men joining the ranks, demanding that "it is not only morally wrong but also 'dangerous' for woman to smoke outside the office premises." After I shifted base back to Delhi, was retelling this incident to some of my colleagues and as expected everyone was very angry at the state of affairs except one woman who said that men who acted like moral police were wrong but the women should be responsible enough not to put themselves in a position where they are vulnerable. I argued that Bombay is a safe city and its not like Delhi, where a burkha clad woman can also be challenged. She, however was adamant that even one incident can ruin a girls life and this is India after all.

This is a perfect example of where we as society are going, in the vanity of our progression, the very urban is actually very constrained in their thoughts. We like to believe that most of us are a perfect mix of the Indian traditional and the western modern.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A sigh of relief. Home safe and soundly!

By Michaela – Intern, Centre for Social Research
The dark scenery of the Indian capital is passing by as I travel towards the south of the city… the time marches on… it is already 8.30pm. I am silently swearing that I should have started my journey earlier just in order to avoid the darkness that has already settled over the city. I am vividly looking out of the window just to avoid the twenty pairs of eyes staring at me. The only thing that goes through my mind is that I want to reach home without facing any problems…
These kinds of thoughts cross my mind frequently as I am travelling by myself in the capital during the evenings. Being a girl from a small town in Scandinavia, where I am able to fearlessly move from place to place, I have found it very difficult to adjust to the fact that because I am a girl I should not move around the city late in the night by myself. There is always a fear of experiencing eve-teasing or other kinds of sexual harassment. Just the fact that a great number of people are staring at me, leads to that I am not feeling comfortable. Having faced eve-teasing, I know that it is better to be safe than sorry. Means being home early, if I am alone… this is sad, because Delhi should be a nice and safe place for both women and men during the night.

... An hour later… I am able to see the local temple next to my house. A sigh of relief. Home safe and soundly!