Time for change. Time to change.

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The Nirbhaya incident changed something inside many of us. I think it shook up our hopes and belief in an equal opportunity world. I remember feeling so angry yet so helpless as violations seemed to surface all around me.

Violation of one person by another. Of space, of body, of mind, of respect, of identity. On screen – off screen – everywhere.

Now as another woman braves her experience, I am a mute witness once again. For every such incident that is reported, thousands of violating moments remain unreported every day. How many girls have bitten back anger and tears even as they have been touched or commented upon in public spaces by strangers? Isn’t molestation, rape and sexual assault  an extension of such violating behavior? If one is condoned, the other is bound to follow.

After the heinous acts, further violation comes from individuals who shamelessly air on media their chauvinistic perspectives about the incidents. They puke all over on social media staining public thought with their yellowed insides. Equal rights, gender sensitivity and bias awareness seem beyond their grey cells but what about basic humaneness?

And finally when it comes to solutions – most advice is about how women should behave, dress, act, speak, react, or not react to such situations. Most families tell their girls not to react for fear of stigma – families who are supposed to nurture children and help them grow. So what are we really telling our future generations about courage & cowardice? Amongst all this am thankful for men & women who speak up against bias and call for corrective action.

But isn’t it time to look at WHO is committing the violations? Are these aliens who are violating our vulnerable ones? NO. They are persons who are born among us, live among us, look like us and are in many ways like us. We need to recognize the problem lies with us. We need to recognize that it is not about just targeting one gender as both genders have played roles in the creation of this monster. We may have inherited an unequal world but as long as we haven’t done anything to change it, we are part of the problem.

The latest report of such violation is yet another slap in our faces. She has faced it with real courage and done her part to report the perpetrators. But even with all this anger and desperation for change, what have we done?

Yet again,

Are we going to sit as spectators to the ensuing discussion circus?

Are we going to rant & rave on social media and then simply… sign out?

Or are we going to do something to make a difference?

Some of us are getting together to make a small start in Kerala. A start from the root of the problem. A start that involves bringing empowerment to girls and empathy to boys. School by school, family by family. If you would like to be part of the change, write to us on parasparamkerala@gmail.com.

If we don’t find the courage now, we will remain among those cowards.

 

 

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33 thoughts on “Time for change. Time to change.

  1. Let us make the change happen. Awareness drives where the focus is on gender equality should be taken up on a war footing. Schools should have time kept aside for serious discussions between the teacher & students . Teachers need to be trained for this & for god’s sake let it not be another marks oriented subject. Sex education is a must. Parents have a big role to play & many ate shying away from this. Law makers need to instil fear in law breakers. Justice should be meted out swiftly & fairly.

  2. We have become “seasoned” mute witnesses over the years, as every time such abuse happen we know too well we are fighting a lost battle. We pass the buck as we are caught up yet again in the labyrinth of money and power game. All we want is civilisation; ironically we want it in ‘God’s own Country’, it’s just that we haven’t figured out who plays God.

    All that comes out of such incidents are political mileage and soaring media TRP’S. Not long ago, we witnessed similar humiliation an actress went through at a public function, and we were made to sit and watch political verbal volleying. We sat aghast as a senior politician asked on national TV “Well, does that really matter to SOME ONE like her, as a movie has been released depicting scenes about her journey into motherhood”. Their lies the truth about the inner dark self of most beings around us, which more or less is limited to sexual objectification and gender bias!

    We even have had our own attempts at legislation being drawn out to uphold the safety of women, and 14 seconds was all that mattered to gauge indecency. We have physicals barriers made in our amusement water parks to restrict amusement which happens only in our part of the world. We have seen the the utmost sad state where an award winning fine actor had to add a post script while genuinely expressing his concern over the safety of women , to spare the “English medium” jokes on him, at least for once.

    We all most definitely wish for a Change; all we need is someone to tell us where to start. Do we change our mothers at home, who draw two distinct Lakshman Rekhas for a daughter and a son, or do we change the women around us, who are the first to look down on a successful or independent woman who speaks her mind, or do we begin with these creepy men who were taught all along that misogyny is manliness? Or do we all just start within ourselves, who unknowingly played our roles in every such unfortunate instance, by showering bravery and heroic accolades, every time an abuse was reported. Are we conveniently forgetting that it’s not about heroism, it’s a mere exercise of one human being’s right, a very basic “Right to Live “!

  3. N we still in a community where people started up questioning
    a celeb(jst cz she s a celeb) for being true tht she can’t raise her kids here , in india .. its not to remain silent any more and wait until the next is Me ( these days even bystander apathy dosent seem to exist so rather focus on self atleast for Ur self don’t be silent ) everyone equally has the right to b safe .. no one s integrity identity and existence should be at stake.. tiny steps ll make a difference.. better late than never n it’s already late here..

  4. Well written Ms. Anjali Menon. Gender discrimination continues to be an enormous problem within Indian society.Violence against women has become a prominent topic of discussion in India in recent years.Indian judicial system is so broken. They are completely failing to punish the rapists and molesters. They should follow middle eastern judiciary for these types of crimes (beheading)
    I would like to share a speech ( written by a Indian American) about an Indian society. It seems very true esp the “”Because what you do not give, they take” part! I hope you will like it.

    ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B79xf6w0vDs

  5. Another practise that may help is to appoint a committee of liberal minded individuals who will discretely investigate any harassment cases. This is standard practise in other industries and why should cinema industry be an exception. Any sexual harassment complaints should be submitted to the committee for review and any repeated issues be dealt with by firing these people and documenting such instances. Any criminal actions must be reported by the committee to police immediately. The selection of liberal minded individuals is important as I have seen a senior comedy actor and television personality extol about appropriate dress per kerala culture. These mysognistic individuals have no right to dictate what kerala culture is. It is the right of every individual to dress according to their own wishes and not be subject to harassment. The onus of the committee is to provide a platform for the victim to be candid about the incident and not be subject to torture by police.

  6. Yes, it’s way past time we started speaking out against misogyny.

    Couple of hours ago, I shared the following with my friends on Whatsapp and Telegram:

    If Bhavana’s photos and video clips come out from the assault, let’s take the decision not to watch, or forward it.

    It’s different when you watch an adult rated movie where the actors are paid to act their roles, and when clips are forcefully taken without permission. The latter is assault.

    When we watch the video clips and photos, the perpetrators win. Let’s not give them that pleasure.

    Let’s take the high ground. Let’s stand with Bhavana.

  7. We need to change the way we bring up our girls and boys in every family.

    I havent seen a single mother or father, educated or not, who teaches their boys to respect girls and women from the child hood. Not one of them have told their boys to earn the respect of a girl.

    We need to strongly inculcate the feeling in every girl child from the very young age that she is as strong as the boy, she can do anything like a boy, she is absolutely free to decide on what she wear or speak or eat or study or whatever and above all we should tell our girls very strictly to even make friends with a boy only if she feels his respect for her. No girl should even accept a love or marriage proposal or even a friendship request unless she is damn sure that the request come from someone who has genuine respect for her.
    At the same time, we should also shed away our Victorian morality. Since antiquity, except for the miniscule minority of Brahmins, all social groups in India followed a very open life style in India until the arrival of the Victorian morality brigade who found their equal partners in the Brahmins, and went on to force their hypocritical morality on the whole society.
    At least from now, let us not treat sex as sin any more. After 16 or 17, let our young enjoy sexuality with whom they chose, being safe, please. Sex education is not by books, education should happen through practice and experience. Lets throw away this stupid dogma of virginity.

    I really wish the actress took the courage to come out in public and placed herself as a victim ready to fight the perpetrators. We should not continue with this stupid stigma that the rape victim is to be covered up. Let her walk bold and conduct herself as some one normal in public. It was not her mistake, she is not the person to feel guilty. She would have set an example and also gave courage to millions of girls in our country to come out and be bold and strong and show the middle finger to this stupid society that they are not the culprits, but the society.

    And, will the movie industry set their own example, please. Dont deny the fact that 99.9% of our cinema propagates patriarchy and misogyny. They always treat women like shit. And sadly vast vast majority of our population unconsciously accept and allow movie scripts to groom their own life and culture.

    Most importantly, will the govt agree to give some education to our police force about the dignity of women, please. This is required even for judiciary.. Where in the world can the judge ask a victim to marry the rapist???

    • “Sex education is not by books, education should happen through practice and experience. Lets throw away this stupid dogma of virginity.”

      Rajesh! I think we are human beings and not animals.

  8. Thanks for writing this post.
    The incident is really disturbing and sad! Right now am feeling so bad but I’m happy to see that the film industry is coming out in her support. Women are just not safe in any country and punishment for rape is becoming a joke nowadays. This lady must be appreciated for having the guts to file a police complaint & undergoing a medical examination immediately. It was very upsetting to hear this bitter truth. She’s so brave!

  9. This is a good initiative, if your words “A start that involves bringing empowerment to girls and empathy to boys” is taken in its entirety. But, usually all such initiatives are sly tricks to spread misandry in society. We should strive towards gender equality in the strict sense, not ignoring either girls or boys. We should not forget that for all sex related crimes in Kerala, the main role is sonned by a woman. This should ot be about gender. It should be about humanity.

  10. A well thought out writing, articulating the various causes associated with gender insensitivity reflected especially in violences against women. Good to know that people are coming together to make some change starting from the root of the problem – Empowering Girls & Sensitising Boys. District Collector, Kozhikode has initiated such a gender sensitising programmee for our children with the same name ‘Parasparam’. I am not sure whether both of these are one and the same. Anyways All the Best for the programme and let’s hope that it will bring some tangible changes in our society rather than getting into oblivion, as did many other programmes which started after the Nirbhaya incident. Let’s hope for the best.

  11. Most of the people are hypocrites. They don’t have the courage to speak up their mind fearing “what will the society think ” , little realising that we are all part of this society, including these hypocrites.

  12. The more we claim to be broad minded &forward looking;the beast in humans surface again &again.Since Bhavana took courage to complain ,the incident came to light.And since she is in cineworld,there was strong protests .
    Yday there was a similar incident in train too &complaint is regd.It is sad that the cases do not come to its logical conclusions .See the case of Sowmya ,on technical grounds Govindachami’s charges stood diluted.

  13. The need of the hour is to stop the 1850 anti social elements being released from the prisons by the CPM govt.The governor has sent the file back for clarifications.Citizens must start a movement to stop this fom happening.

  14. Am saddened and ashamed. But worse has happened in kerala. How about the girl who was raped and killed somewhere near shornur after she jumped out of the train raped and killed by a monster who is now cooling his heals in sone jail in Delhi. Who protected him? What is the state of the mother of the girl. These perverts they are escaping. Your initiative is great.
    But one thing is true. There are perverts around who enjoy given an opportunity to do such acts. So who is giving such opportunities? Who is encouraging them?even if these people are identified and put behind bars don’t you think more are emerging? Is this something psychological? Is it the reason that women are now smarter, well educated , Holding high positions which a certain section of the society is not able to accept. Someone was telling me the other day. Women have to keep themselves safe. How? In what way? Have some sections in society started hating women so badly that they have become perverts enjoying hurting the innocent ome’s. And making others perverts too by influencing them?
    Am myself scared and worried to post a comment. Even though am 53. Because am not seen as a matured woman to be respected but an object of sex because I hear even 80 yyear old are also getting raped.

  15. Gender sensitivity classes along with a quick & unquestionable hand of law can alone save the situation.Public perception has to change with times.Yesterday ,superstar Mammootty ,spoke to the people.appreciate his solidarity and his feelings behind the statement that women have to be protected by men.I do agree with that .But the fact remains that there is a major chunk of society -which believes that women asked for it because they chose not to lead life in a protected environment .They chose to travel at night without a male “protector” and so asked for it-chose to be actresses & so should be fair game to someone’s verbal diarrhoea- they chose to go for a holiday with men& so why cant we have a go at them.etc.It is disheartening that these men & many women as well believe that today’s girls asked for it by their life choices When people with such great fan bases etc make such statements they also need to explain to a vast majority that the key word is choose.Respect their choices & be man enough to intervene when required.

  16. Sex education shoukd be given and sexual violence should be spoken in schools both in private and public. They should make sure families and focus groups are set at schools ,at grassroot levels, and receive opinions on how it should be delivered. The organisations should collaborate and work as one.We cannot depend on the government to make this change. Kerala should pave the way for this huge change to accept responsibility and behave like true citizens. Courage to every individual that goes through this battle in his / her life .

  17. There are further actions that may get concrete results. Having Cinema units do criminal background checks for people who work with vulnerable populations. In this case the drivers of actors meet this criterion since he has access to them when they are vulnerable due being sleepy at late hours or if they drive passengers from a party where drinks are served etc. I hate to think what if these criminals were to be driving kids home. Any one with criminal background should be removed from working in such jobs.

  18. We need to come with rules like Hang to death or cut the head off ..for such crimes.Unless we have strong such laws, we will never be able to put an end to such cruelty.Gone are the days where people stand and pray with candles for the victim.We need hartals and bandhs and March in roads till such laws come. But none of the political parties or government will take such bold steps..Media creates sensational news and will have people sitting n talking n debating fr hours.But they don’t have the sensitivity to raise their voices for bringing such laws..If reason fr non implementation of such laws is so called ‘Democracy’, then Women also has got the right to live fearless in this democracy.Is there any such instance in Kerala or India,where the culprits are given serious punishments??No…if there is no major punishments,then why not give a try is the attitude now..Let us fight for strong laws not for empowerments!

  19. After the recent incidents against women (Pune, Seaport-Airport Road, Actress etc), it’s extremely imperative that women should learn self-defense. Women continue to deny the need for their own self-protection, relying instead on arguments that the law, their spouse, brother, father, etc, should be protecting them. The statistical reality is that the ones women expect to protect them are the majority of the ones committing the crimes. So, why learn self-defense? Because, crime can happen to anyone at anytime. Whether you want to live in your fantasy world or not, that is the harsh reality. At some point in your life as a woman you will flash across a predator’s (mainly male) radar as prey. You will be attacked. You will be alone and you will be vulnerable. And most likely, it will come from the one you least expected. The next question, what will you do?

  20. This incident and the many such unreported incidents point to the influence of such elements in the Malayalam film world. Otherwise how a person of such disrepute continue to be driver for one celebrity or other. And also became agents for supplying drivers. If reports are to be believed these individuals were active players in supplying drugs to the film fraternity. That adds another dimension to the whole scenario which is that of film financing. This finally lead to the conclusion how drug and sex mafia have strangled their hold on film industry. Also the incident highlights why minimum checks were not held on the characters of the drivers who were entrusted with transporting female artists.

  21. well articulated anjali. just today i was talking to my cousin who is spearheading the people’s plan in one panchayat that they should look at school and family level programmes on gender equity. will be good to link the parasparamkerala initiative to the panchayat level initiatives as well.

    tom

  22. We must treat all people as individuals,not as mere men and women. We are more than just bodies.We are as human as the perpetrator and the victim. We must respect people irrespective of gender,social and economic status,caste and ethnicity. We must become a communion of rational thought,even one person outside this circle of thought is detrimental for society. We all need to be on the same page. Online and offline. Go ahead,we are together.

  23. These are exactly the points that need to be raised at such a juncture. It is indeed a time for introspection for all of us.
    Glad to know you are starting your own group to create more awareness. Am also part of a gender rights organization in Kochi called Raising Our Voices that came into being following the Nirbhaya incident. In our small way we have started working with schools in the Kochi area, imparting gender awareness workshops to boys, girls, parents, and teachers. Thats the only way forward.
    Let’s all join hands to make this world free of gender crimes.

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