Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ring The Bell

One million men, One million promises, End violence against women
Ring the bell is a worldwide campaign that has been started to fight against the violence against women. Ring the bell campaign took place across the globe on the Women's Day. In Bangalore, Onskies was a proud partner of this initiative and they called for a meetup to discuss what can be done to improve the current situation in India. I got an opportunity to be a part of it.


To be really frank I did not know what the meetup was about. I saw that most of the friends that i made through twitter were participating, and it was Friday so even i joined them. We were a group of around 20 people at Costa Coffee in Brigade Road. Little did I know how serious this was turning out to be. Before opening the floor to discussions, our host Manoj pointed to us that as Indians we do not like to lead, we wanted tested solutions and we follow it. He told us that its time to stop following and taking the lead. We all were asked if we had witnessed any acts of violence against women and if yes then what did we do to stop it.

When we say violence against women, the first few things that come to our mind are rape, molestation and eve-teasing. And this was exactly how the discussion started. The way MEN objectify WOMEN. Every guy will agree that he has commented about women in a really bad way. The ladies in the house also said that even women objectify men. After a lot of discussion the take away was that its OK to pass comments but you should know when/where to draw the line.

The topic then moved on from the violence on the streets to the things that happen inside the house, mainly issues where husband assaults his wife. A few people shared how they have seen crimes happening around them. This discussion went on for a really long time. As pointed out by Mr Joseph in the women's self defense workshop, majority of crime against women is domestic violence. We spent a lot of time discussing about it. A few questions were kept out for the audience. We do not have any conclusive answers for them and its up-to us on how we want to deal with the situation
  • When you see your neighbor beating his wife, what do you do? If it was your father or uncle, what do you do? - A lady in the audience told that she got her parents divorced because she couldn't see her mother suffering.
  • Is divorce the solution? Sometimes yes but we all know that men and women are meant to live together. So what is the solution in such cases?
  • Culture vs Women's right - The Indian society is tightly coupled. Is trying to bring the change inside the family really possible?
  • Is ego the factor? - Just because women are financially dependent on men does it give them the right to abuse women? And if a women is earning, does she get to have her way always?
  • Is mental torture a crime? - Yes it is.
A lot more were discussed but i felt the above topics were more relevant. You might ask if we arrived upon any solutions. I would not call it a solution but below are somethings that were discussed as we moved towards the end of the event: Every problem has a solution if we want to solve it.
  • This point may not be relevant to what we can do, but we need to put it forward to the media that they need to be more matured. When something goes wrong, the focus is on the victim. We know the name of the rape victim but we do not know who the rapist is. This needs to be changed. 
  •  How do you act when you see a act of violence? Going and beating up the guy is not going to help, you will hurt his thoughts even more and he will be more violent. You can tell him that he is being watched and the lady is not alone. There are laws that can put him behind bars. In most cases it is a better solution then getting physical.
  • Speaking of law, it is being observed that ladies who know about the law misuse it, rather then making use of it.  Yes, there are laws to protect women.
  • Educate everyone as to when to draw the line. Each person has their comfort zone. Recognize it and make sure you do not intrude.
  • Do not look at the problem as saving women from men. Look at it as how can a man and a women live together in harmony.
It was also pointed out that the discussions in a fancy coffee shop is not going to help. And we were told that the next stage of the initiative is going on to the ground to spread awareness. We all are really looking forward to being part of the initiative and do our bit. As software engineers we know that a small bug that goes unattended, can crash a whole software, so every small thing that we can do plays a big role. 

So how can you all help? 
Give the above questions a thought and spread the world. Tell your friends and family members to take a small pledge. You all can log on to the breakthrough website and make a promise. A small promise that you know that you can keep. Let us all join hands and make India a better place to live in. 

Keep it simple. Give Respect and Take Respect

PS:
Most of the points are taken from the discussions we had and i am just writing them here.
You can know more about the events and the cause by following the twitter hashtag #RingTheBell
You can check the pics of this meetup by visiting the Onskies Facebook Page


I hope that I have managed to convey the message from the meetup to all you folks. Do leave in your comments if you feel the need to give me a feedback. Thanks for your time.
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