8 March 2015, International Women’s Day

 

The members of the Chandigarh Hub conducted an extensive campaign on 8th March 2015, International Women’s Day with One Billion Rising across various parts of the city, encouraging women and men alike to break their silence against gender discrimination and not be bystanders to such acts.

We asked certain questions from men and women if they have ever seen or been through acts of harassment and what actions did they take to stop it. Also, what they think how this can be stopped and what will they do if they see anything happening around. Even kids shared their thoughts to support the cause.

While sharing this message and such stories of optimism, the Shapers met with Sandhya, a resident of the slum community in Sector 25, Chandigarh. “Women should raise their voice against any form of violence or harassment and not accept it. Intervention breaks the perpetrator’s confidence. If we don’t stop injustice once, we will allow 100 more to occur. We must speak” she says.

The team also met Rajesh, who shared his experience from the other end of the spectrum. “I have seen women being harassed, but I have tended to keep out of the issue and mind my own business. Since the victim has not raised her voice, I don’t feel the need to interfere.”

Driving home the message, the Shapers believe that there needs to be a mass movement around breaking the stigma of being silent in the face of atrocity – both for women who are victims and men who are bystanders. We need to get people to introspect and examine the smart ways in which they can be part of the solution. We need to move the needle from the Rajeshes of the world to those such as this anonymous young man who shares his story “While riding my bicycle, I saw a car with four men attempting to harass a passing woman. While I knew I couldn’t overpower them, I engaged them in a mundane conversation on locating an address just for the girl to get an opportunity to speed away. I couldn’t have possibly fought those men alone, yet I was happy to be able to help that woman.”

While spreading the message we met Mr. Singh who shares “If someone passes lewd comments and you allow them to do it, they will continue. RAISE YOUR VOICE! CONFRONT. It is like asking someone to dance on stage, no one will go alone on the stage, but once one person goes, everyone else loses their inhibition. Just be that one person who speaks out and confronts, everyone else will join you”

The campaign focused on spreading the message of gender equality and breaking the stigma around gender discrimination. One can start addressing it by fostering hope and affirmative action by sharing experiences.That is the idea behind I Break My Silence. It is about building a community of proactive and engaged human beings. The ‘doers’!

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