One Billion Rising campaign kicks off, celebrities Aamir Khan and Gul Panag sent video messages, Delhi Metro makes special announcements
New Delhi, 6 Feb 2014: Today, 14th February, will see over a billion people rising across the world to protest against patriarchy and violence against women and girls. As Mrs. Kamla Bhasin, South Asia coordinator of the One Billion Rising Campaign (OBR) pointed out, “It is the love of power that leads to violence and domination. Over a billion women and girls are victims of various forms of violence in the world. It has in fact been described as the biggest war ever against any community; one that goes on within our homes and communities. The OBR campaign stands for the power of love and justice and we want peaceful homes and communities for all. What is heartening is that a large numbers of men and boys participating in the OBR campaign.”
This was reiterated by young men like Bharat, a 10th class student at a government school, who told a press conference, held in the run up to the campaign, that he,“empathizes with women and girls who are being constantly subjected to various forms of harassment because I have also faces a lot of bullying in the school being the youngest in his class”. He appealed to people to avoid violence and live with peace and love.
Meanwhile, Chandni, a young taxi driver, who had never stepped out of her locality and is now driving a taxi felt that, “In order to get empowered women it is important for women to step outside of their homes and fight for their rights. They must leave the habit of giving away their rights for the sake of others.”
In New Delhi the OBR campaign will focus on the issue of justice for all survivors of gender violence and the impunity that protects perpetrators all over the world. Samarthyam, an NGO that collaborates with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), will be highlighting the need to make public spaces and the transit infrastructure, including the Delhi Metro, more accessible and safe for girls and women through audio announcements at all metro stations throughout the day while Manas, a Delhi NGO will conduct trainings for one lakh auto drivers on the importance for ensuring the safety of women.
Meanwhile, Jamia Millia Islamia University is organizing a peace walk, nukkad nataks and musical performances at the college campus on 11th February and on 14th February. Members of the Delhi Rising Group, along with students from city colleges, disabled rights groups, women taxi drivers and children from Srijanatmak Manushi Sansthan, will be performing flash mobs in different parts of the city.
Several celebraties like Aamir Khan and former Miss India Gul Panag are also supporting the campaign. In a video message Aamir Khan said “I believe that to combat violence against women, we men will have to change. Hitting a woman, does not exhibit a man’s bravery. Instead, it shows how cowardly he really is. If we truly want to be real men, I believe, we will have to learn how to be sensitive.” Meanwhile, Ms. Gul Panag in her video message opined that, “When patriarchy is tied together with capitalism, imperialism and various social, economic and racial forces, violence against women is intensified. It gives men, who are the perpetrators of this violence, a sense of impunity to go ahead and inflict this violence.”
The OBR campaign will also be raising its voice against homophobia and racism and discrimination against people from the North East or Africa. Organizations working on section 377 are also participating in the campaign and their representatives will be present at the 14th February program to extend solidarity and speak about violence related issues.
Several other initiatives have also been announced as part of the campaign including a study to explore, understand and analyze the relationship between laws and women’s rights in India and seek ways in which people and communities can engage and strive towards a free, safe and equal world. It is being done by the Women’s Development Cell (WDC) Miranda House, Delhi University and the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR)) along with DU students, the Delhi police and youth from the community.
Similar programs are being held in all the States of India and in all neighboring countries of South Asia.