Since the time a girl is born she is considered a burden in a lot of cultures across the world. Her wings are clipped in the name of her own safety and security, society’s norms, pride, honour or religion. She is subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse only because she is a woman. And in the process some lose their life, others are scarred for life.
“Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development. It imposes large-scale costs on families, communities and economies. The world cannot afford to pay this price,” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General said in his address to mark the start of the 16 Days Activism Against Gender Based Violence starting from 25 November to 10 December.
Most of us think that gender based violence is a primitive concept and it doesn’t happen in modern societies. Perhaps it happens in the villages or may be the domestic help’s house or in the slums but surely not in our own circle. According to a study conducted by United nations (UN), one in three women around the world experience violence in their lifetime, often in the hands of someone they know, love and trust.
If we have to bring about a change in the way women are treated, we would have to first bring a change in mindsets. For years, the feminist movement has worked towards making women aware about their rights. But what most fail to understand is that equality cannot be achieved till men are brought under the purview of feminist movements. It’s not Men Vs Women, it’s about both genders understanding each other, supporting each other and accepting each other as equals.
That’s why we were very excited when MAVA (Men Against Violence and Abuse) approached us to make a short film on their gender sensitization and mentoring initiative -Yuva Maitri. MAVA is the 1st Non profit organisation in India intervening against gender-based violence on women by working with men.
“Are you the camera man?”, asked a curious 18-year-old who had come to attend the first residential camp with MAVA. “No, I am the camera woman”, said our team member with a smile.
Throughout the shoot of the film, we got a lot of glares and turn-backs for being an all women’s shooting crew. But somewhere they accepted these are a bunch of women who know their job and then the encouragement poured in. Perhaps this acceptance comes from the fact that these boys have been exposed to the other side of the story. They have been made aware of the prejudices and oppression women have to go through.
Rape, domestic abuse, acid attacks, dowry-deaths; these are not just the only ways gender based violence manifests itself. We see its impact daily all around us. A man is allowed to go out in the night and suddenly we question why shouldn’t a woman be allowed to do the same? We are not thinking of creating a space where she is allowed to do and act as her male counterpart without any negative consequences.
With gender sensitization, there can be a space where individuals from all genders can learn how to coexist. When we work together as equals, we all make a better world for ourselves and the generations to come.