I was very excited about the coming together of the Times of India and IndiBlogger to discuss issues affecting women. The event which was open to both men and women, was a part of The Times of India’s Bangalore for Women initiative which highlights the city’s duty towards its female citizens. A duty that the city has been repeatedly ignoring.
The event promised a lot, and I went there with lot of hopes and enthusiasm. The room was a bit small for 100 bloggers and I was kind of scared that I may get thrown out when there would lack of place to fit in all. I met my fellow bloggers, and settled down comfortably in a seat to exchange few words with friends.
The meet did not go about with the Indicry, or blogger introductions. Anoop was up to point and quick in introducing us to Mr. Franklin Joseph who is Women Self Defense Specialist with combined experience of more than 14 years working, researching and designing workshops for women. He has modeled his defense mechanisms after getting in touch with women who underwent sexual abuse, women who faced violence and women victims of crime. He has been conducting workshops for women teaching them techniques of getting out safely from a sticky situation.
Some of the points he brought up were very useful with a new perspective which many people tend to ignore. Here is a brief list of them though I may not be able to portray his points accurately:
1) A woman often ventures out when there is a male escort, though she would be scared to do so when alone. He proved how this does not change anything. A man becomes nervous and helpless when the woman he is escorting is attacked.
2) Carrying pepper powders and weapons is not the answer. When abusers and attackers realize this is what women are carrying they will find a defense for it, or maybe they turn more violent to subdue the women from attacking back.
3) The attitude, confidence and presence of mind are the best defense mechanisms women can adopt.
Frankly, I did not have any trouble agreeing with Mr. Franklin because I have always believed in this. My personal experience tells me the same. I usually walk on the streets with a confidence that I can handle myself. I have not been teased, abused or troubled by men on roads or in public places. But the whole situation changed when I was in Byndoor. When I had to wear Burkha to cover up myself and my attitude, the confidence lacking, men started teasing me, passing lewd comments and in one instance taking advantage of the rush in the public transport to touch my legs. Off course it was followed by me stomping hard on his feet and hurting his toe badly which led to a verbal duel, with mute spectators watching us like it was Rajkumar’s movie.
Once Franklin left, bloggers were allowed to voice their concerns about safety of women in Bangalore. For some weird reason, Anoop asked me start it off and then was at loss as to how to stop me. He will know better the next time ;).
My concern was about the differentiation taking place among girls with special needs. There were other bloggers who shared their own good or bad experiences with Indibloggers openly. With more time to spare, it could have been a good debate.
Amazingly none of the topics overlapped each other. Every blogger present there, had their own set of concerns, which is something we all have seen at one time or other.
From positive response of an auto driver who helped a lady in distress, not even asking for fare from her to people who threw out a girl from the rented house in middle of the night and that too for being the victim of another tenants pervert behavior, there were different life experiences shared by the bloggers.
In defense of men, a male blogger pointed out how he was scolded by a woman when he tried to help her. I agree this happens too. With rising crime, every man is being viewed as potential rapist or pervert by the women.
After some bloggers got to present their views, it was time for lunch. After lunch there were 3 representatives from TOI including Mr. Narayanan Krishnaswami, one of the editors, who told about recent initiative ‘Bangalore for Women’ which has been moving ahead in full throttle. I read TOI on my Apple iPad and somehow it is not visible there. If it was, I may have attended at least of those workshops.
All the three TOI representatives had just few minutes to spare to hear from nearly 100 bloggers about their experience and what solutions do they expect for those problems. That was kind of funny. The bloggers, creative and passionate as they are came up with so many questions and solutions that the TOI team looked stumped. As usual everyone had their own version of solutions to the problems people face in Bangalore today. Some were good whereas some were like bollywood justice.
I had a message for TOI too. In the past few months, I have been regularly reading about the young girls being abused by their fathers in the once considered secure environment of their homes. Every time the report starts with the same sentence, “In a very shocking incidence, a father was found raping his ** year old minor daughter ………….”. This is being reported on an everyday scale, and yet the report starts as same shocking indicence. Somehow Mr.Narayanan got confused about what I was trying to say and asked me whether I wanted them to write ‘ho hum.. another father rapes his daughter’. I don’t think I would be that silly, my point is to keep count of the incidences, create awareness, rather than just reporting it as a shocking incident. Let the society know that this is happening so often that it is not shocking anymore.
In my opinion, with the frequency it is happening, TOI should not report it as a rare shocking incidence, but rather as “In the 28th incidence coming to light in 2013 a father was found abusing his minor daughter….” , so that the frequency of the incidences will be noticed by the concerned people. Our society too needs a shock treatment, because they still believe such things cannot happen in their midst. A message for ‘Women and Child Development’ department can be added too.
Another initiative TOI can take is to find more information about the report.
· What led to child being abused by father?
· Is this very common with step fathers?
· What methods do these men use to silence these girls from reporting it to others?
· What is the role of the mother?
· Why is the child not confiding in mother?
· Is the mother herself a mute spectator?
Journalists can probe deeper into the cases and come up with some vital information which could really help in stopping this heinous menace shaming our society. If there is a repeated pattern being followed, it could be brought to the notice of the public and awareness created in the victims. The meet ended abruptly with bloggers having so much more to say.
So now we are back to our comfort zones where we are going to blog about how we can make Bangalore a better place for women. I am going to write a post on the condition of girls with disability in Bangalore. I am not sure about the results, but I think this will be the first step in the miles and miles of journey which is required to bring about a change.
I am glad that the initiative has been taken by Indiblogger and TOI which itself needs a loud applause, whether it turns out to be a great success or not.