Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Bells are 'A-Ringing': Indiblogger and Breakthrough BELL BAJAO Event

The twitterati were 'a-twitter', the facebookers were going nuts,
All together to ring the bell, and display some guts

Together to say that women matter, to say that they care,
Together to explore what works: bitter medicine or prayer (the bollywoodian duaa versus dawaa debate)

Some said it is men, they need to take a vow,
Others said, how will they change overnight, yeh batao!

Patriarchy, socialisation, other big words were thrown around, 
The most honest opinions came from the women, connected to the ground

They said men want control, they want power,
They essentially want, to make women cower

Thus the stuck reservation bill, and the higher powers' indecision,
Men fear once women enter the scene, there will be retribution

They fear their ages old hushed-up lies will be out,
That women will run the world without any self-doubt

These women are true Sheroes, and there are millions of them in the world,
Silently waging their wars, fighting everything, that at them has been hurled

It wasn't however, a gloomy night, 
Music was in the air, the evening was gorgeous, and the colors were all bright

Young and old were enjoying the deliberations,
Clapping, cheering, while also twittering their frustrations

Eve Ensler, came alive, through Mahabanoo's evocative performance,
Goosebumps,  smiles, tears, and laughs for her absolute non-conformance

Swarathma rocked the stage and raised their melodious voice, 
Against child abuse, the shadiness of politics, and the absolute curbing of 'choice'

The crescendo however, was poised to be a real treat, 
Anoushka Shankar appeared and everyone's heart skipped a beat!

Breakthrough's efforts with Indiblogger deserve an applause,
The evening was amazing, without any pause

Hope the bells keep ringing for the BELL BAJAO campaign,
Pledge to work towards a world where women (and men) live without pain

Wish all women (and men) very happy women's days, weeks, months, and years,
Look forward to the day when the identity of a woman is because of who she is, and not because of those for whom she cares (i.e., her father, brother, son, husband etc.)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

An 'A-love' Story...

(No it is not a typo, the story is about A-Love, the kind of story that does not end in a happily ever-after. The kind of story that is all too common. Tragically. A salute goes out to Indichange and Bell Bajao! campaign by Breakthrough for bringing this 'aapas ka mamala (internal or domestic affair) in the open)

He shouts, she cowers.

He screams, she bows.

He is upset, she tells herself.
He is angry, tense and tired. But he loves her, she knows.

She sleeps, he forces himself on her.
She resists, he hurts her.

He will go to another woman. She warns herself.
He needs her. She is lucky. He is a man. It is a need.

He hits her. She thinks it will stop.
Again. And again. Some more. It doesn't stop.

She thinks it's ok. Such is marriage, or love, or an affair.
Or whatever it is they share. He is a man. He needs control. He needs to feel all-powerful.

She was warned. They'll side with him.
He is a man. She'll have nowhere to go.

She is trapped. In a golden cage. Or in a rusted, rotten one.
It doesn't matter. Her wings are clipped. And the small gate locked.

He wants money that she earns. Or not. He just wants to see her in pain.
But the pain is a must. He needs to see her in it. He is the King. He rules.

She thought submission was the key. He didn't.
She thought it was a part of life. He agreed.

So it went-on. With them living unhappily ever-after.
Her submission feeding his rage, his ego. Her bruises stunting her, making her de-grow.

Nobody rang the bell. Nobody walked-in. 
In to her little world of daily wars and daily defeats. Of broken dreams and shattered promises. 

A story not so uncommon, in any part of the world. 

A cancer that grows daily, feeds on the ugly marketing of women as a commodity, in senseless tv serials seen by millions, in advertisements which portray women as nothing else but men's playthings. In music videos, songs, item numbers...In all forms of mass media, which support domination of women indirectly in more ways than one. Parents teaching girls to bear pain, and keep quiet, husbands, brothers, sons and co-workers, who think they own women and that women associated with them are, 'theirs'. These are just some of things that lead to violence against women. Physical violence is just one of its forms. Mostly detectable easily as it is visible. 

Sexual, mental, psychological violence are just as serious and sometimes the scars last more than a lifetime and run too deep to see.

Rich or poor. Educated or illiterate. Slum-dweller or penthouse owner. Rural or urban. All women are vulnerable. All men and boys possible perpetrators of violence. 

So why are men such control-freaks? Are all men like this? What makes men treat women differently? Why is the control of patriarchy on the psyche of women and men so strong that it refuses to let go? That education, better living standards, better quality of life do not differentiate men who abuse women from those who don't?

Answers to these questions are not easy to come-by. And I haven't got them either. In fact I think women cannot find these answers, 'alone', without the men about whom these questions are anyway!

But one thing is for sure. While we theorize violence and try and get to the roots of societal attitudes towards women in general, there is also a need for us, collectively; and not as men, or women, to stand up for each other. And not just by protesting on the streets, but by raising our voice, when somebody raises an alarm in a bus about being troubled by somebody standing next to them. Or by stopping to 'interfere' when a man is mercilessly beating up a woman on the side of the street. There is a need for us to understand that it is our lack of standing up for each other, our lack of common consciousness that is emboldening people who think they can do anything and get away, even in the middle of a crowd. Or in the safety of their homes. Because no neighbor would want to get into an, 'aapas ka mamla' or a domestic situation. 

So whether it is in the colony, or in the streets, in the metro, or in a crowded bus, what is needed, as a first step, is a sensitivity towards others. An interfering nature that will make you understand when something is not quite right around you. Let us start by being 'mild' peeping-toms. Let's keep our ears open to hear someone's cries for help. And our mind open to think of helping in a couple's violent exchange as not interference but a social duty. And let's pay our neighbors a visit and let them know that we know. 

So BELL BAJAO! Ring the bell if you think someone is in trouble. Maybe it can help a dream from shattering, a soul from getting lost.

Find more information here 

A visual journey through patriotism

A winter evening and the setting sun. And national pride flutters in the Delhi wind.

And now, the sun has set. The royal residence is aglow. The corridors of power, lit-up and shiny.