SEXUAL ASSAULT. MOLESTATION. EVE TEASING.
How often is it that you come across these grave terms on social media but have you ever thought about these terms from a victim’s perspective?
Lets assume you’ve thought about it from the inconvenient angle, but have you ever done anything about it? Well I hadn’t till I met Pranadhika. Here’s how:
P.S. Be prepared to be inspired!
Q. How did it all start, your movement against sexual assault, the campaign to get a million people from across the country under one umbrella?
A. The campaign basically started because I got pissed off about sexual assault and I have been working in the field for 17 years now, and especially after the ‘Delhi gang rape’ I had certain expectations from the government that there would be certain measures taken for the protection of women and children. Also, it was mentioned during one of the sessions in the parliament that age appropriate safety education would be introduced and made mandatory as a part of the curriculum. Unfortunately all that turned out to be nothing but just rhetoric.
Q. Why did you start this movement, trying to involve a million people and to make them voice a single opinion against sexual assault?
A. Well, it so happened that my state (West Bengal) turned out to be the most unsafe place for women and children according to National Crime Records Bureau, it was statistically proven. And that really upset me as a proud citizen. Hence I realised that I needed to approach the government in a manner they could not ignore and I thought instead of one tiny person like myself talking, why not bring together a million people from various socio-economic backgrounds and let them share their concerns on the issue. And more importantly, demand that the government take permanent measures for the safety of women and children.
Q. So your goal is to reach one million people to channelize their opinion to the government, how far have you reached?
A. I have technically reached out to, on an offline level, approximately 700 people thus far. And I’m not counting the people you reach on the internet because there is a lot of overlapping in that domain.
Q. A long way to million then, tell us how do you plan to execute this mammoth of a challenge?
A. Well for me, rather than spreading the message, my main challenge is to reach the less urban population in India because approximately 70% of us live below the poverty line.
Our diversity is our greatest adversity when it comes to raising awareness about anything.
There is no multi-lingual content pertaining to sexual violence awareness, not even a basic safety guidelines for children which should be taught. So currently I am developing a multitude of curriculums which would reach out to the diverse population of our country; my focus areas are IDPs (Internally Displaced Population), Dalits, and other marginalised groups.
Q. In terms of sexual assault awareness, what exactly is your focal point?
A. Contrary to what most organisations dealing with sexual assault do, 60% of my campaign is targeted for men; according to the ministry of women and children’s report which came out in 2007 that stated, statistically, 52% boys are abused as compared to 48% of girls. And this is something the government has come up with and not me.
Q. Now that is very interesting, Could you please elaborate?
A. Actually the thing is that whenever we talk about sexual violence, we tend to ‘genderise’ it. It affects everyone irrespective of whether you are male, female or anything for that matter. I am trying to get rid of this notion that sexual assault is targeted only at women; I personally know a lot of men who have experienced it, including my father himself.
So I have sub-campaigns along with the primary one which you know of, where I engage with men to not only talk about their concerns but also the fact that they have been discriminated against. All men are not rapists. Some are survivors, some perhaps due to society or ignorance have been subdued and they need to have access to some information that would help them gain a better perspective on the issue.
So my stand on sexual violence has always been a very gender-neutral one.