how to stand up against violence towards women
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
Egypt Today, egypt today
Egypt Today, egypt today
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
Egypt Today, egypt today

How to stand up against violence towards women

Egypt Today, egypt today

Egypt Today, egypt today How to stand up against violence towards women

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how to stand up against violence towards womenViolence against women is very common. Especially in a country like India where it exists in almost every form-  from female foeticide and domestic violence to dowry harassment and eve teasing to sexual harassment at work. The recent incident of eve teasing that led to the murders of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes makes us wonder aloud if we are as safe as we think we are. We spoke to Dr Nandita Gandhi, and Elisa Zenck of Akshara to talk about the website started by the foundation,standupagainstviolence.org, that is dedicated to fight violence against women. They talked to us more about the website and how women and men can help the cause.   
“Unfortunately, there are many forms of violence that women suffer,” says Dr Nandita Gandhi, co-director, Akshara. “The most common ones are eve teasing and domestic violence.” Other threats that also affect the mental integrity of a woman are rape, molestation, dowry harassment, child sexual abuse and more. The first step towards bringing about a change is to recognise it as a political issue.
Awareness is the first step
According to Elise Zenck, information officer, Akshara, awareness is another step towards preventing violence against women. “Public awareness takes a long time, but we have to keep at it,” she says. The site started by Akshara, standupagainstviolence.org, gives women all the information they need to come out of a situation where they have been harassed. “For awareness on a larger scale, the government has to step in and so do the corporates with campaigns,” Zenck says.
“Women should help other women,” adds Gandhi. Those with information about helplines, and complaint procedures should pass it on to others. Using social media is another way of sharing information. Create a page on social media websites where experiences can be shared and others can help with whatever information they have. Akshara has a Facebook page where we discuss these issues.
Men play an important role too
Men can play an equally important role in preventing violence against women. “They can stop men who are attacking a woman,” says Gandhi. “Schools too should educate boys on why they should not resort to violence,” says Zenck. “Girls should be taught to fight back or even scream and try to scare the attacker off and not get intimidated,” she adds.
Difficult, not impossible
Gandhi agrees that this issue is a difficult one to overcome. But she believes that slowly women will speak up and all those voices will be heard. According to her, “Women can help themselves by believing that it’s not their fault, that they are victims of violence. We should not berate victims.” According to actor Nandita Das, who was at the website launch,“Women should not feel guilt or shame when they speak about any incidence of violence they have experienced.”
Another way is to raise their sons to respect women and to talk to their male relatives about non-violent behavior towards women. This should also include non-physical violence, as women often become victims of emotional abuse such as blackmailing or controlling behaviour by men. Women should be more confident and assertive, take self defence classes and read up on how they can prevent/handle an attack. Das says, “Women as children are brought up with a sense of guilt/shame that they are girls.” This needs to be changed.
Speak up
“Talk to your friends and family to help you out with a situation in which you are being violated,” says Zenck. “You need to acknowledge that you are facing violence and need to get out of the situation,” she adds. Das agrees. She says, “Women need to talk, break the silence and do what they can to fight violence."
Akshara is working on gender education and creating awareness on various levels. They conduct trainings and workshops with youth, in which they teach boys and girls about gender issues, particularly violence against women. They are not only educating girls by giving them self-defense training, but also boys by trainings of non-violent interaction. They have also held various campaigns against sexual harassment and domestic violence all over Mumbai.
Other than that, they are training community women – or Barefoot Counselors – in helping solve issues of violence against women in their neighborhoods. They are an active part in the Safe City campaign. They have also helped to establish the 103 helpline that women in Mumbai can call when they face violence in any form.
How to protect yourself against violence
    Arm yourself with pepper spray.
    Make sure you are walking on well-lit streets especially at night.
    Change sides of the street or cross the street several times if you feel someone is following you to confirm and scream “Stop following me! I have pepper spray and I will use it if you don’t leave immediately!”
    If faced with domestic violence, simply accept the fact that you are being violated and do something about it, because your partner is not going to stop. An abusive partner will only find new reasons to beat/abuse you.
    Tell your parents and friends that you are being harassed by your husband. They will help you move out/file for divorce or even seek help from an NGO. Get a job, be financially independent and move out.
    If faced with dowry harassment, talk to your family and call off the wedding if you are not married already and file an FIR.
    If already married, make it clear to your in-laws that your family won’t give in and then contact your parents and the police.
 

 

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