Friday, June 21, 2013

Break the Silence… Ring Warning Bells!

Ring The Bell, Presented by IndiBlogger and Breakthrough

Indichange was back in Bangalore once again, this time at Fortune Park JP Celestial, close on the heels of the ‘Bangalore for Women’ with TOI. They invited all of us Bangalore bloggers to take their pledges to end violence against women. Indiblogger has been joined by Breakthrough to “Ring the Bell” in India which is an award winning global campaign calling on men and boys to take action and stop violence against women. Learn more about it on
Bell Bajao

I am glad someone has taken initiative to stop domestic violence against women which is rampant all over the world and among every class. At the same time, I wonder why the women wait for someone to come and ring the bell. Why don’t they take the initiative and seek help? I encourage people to respect themselves and also stand up for themselves, because finally it is your suffering and it is your body that is being battered. No one will understand it better than you. 
The videos show the people stopping violence by just ringing the bell. What happens the next day?  Does the man stop beating his wife because someone rung the bell to check about power, to make phone call etc?  I have my doubts about it. It may stop the man for a week at most according to me.  What I would love to see is a group of women barge in the home, trash the man black and blue to show him how it feels to be her shoes. That ad would be more powerful. People may argue that we cannot stop violence with violence, but I feel we can stop violent people with fear of consequences. More than the men standing for men, we need women standing up for women. Women may be weak physically, but they are emotionally very strong, and they have very high level of tolerance too. Therefore we can never assume women to be the weaker sex. Take off that tag, and give them the power to fight violence against them. Let there be not just a million men taking the pledge, let there be equal number of women taking the pledge too.
I have rung the bell at times when I have seen men beating their wives or parents hitting their children. My approach has been more direct, where I have asked openly, “Why are you doing this?” Once a man had answered me, “You don’t know how rudely that woman answers me back”. I said, “Would you hit your parents, boss or a priest who would talk to you rudely? No, isn't it? Why you hit your wife is just because you think her to be subordinate to you and also it is your lack of respect for her... not just her rudeness”.  People often tell me off, asking me to mind my own business, but they know I will not.
I cannot ignore the violence against a helpless person and continue with my life. Be it a mother beating her son, husband beating his wife, teacher punishing a student or children beating elderly parents, I cannot tolerate it silently. Don’t ask me “Why have you not mentioned wife beating husband?” I haven’t because I have not come across it yet, other than some rare cases where the woman has done so in self defense.  Honestly, I am against beating of any kind, no matter who the victim is, and I feel very strongly about it. Also, I have nothing against men in particular. I have father, brother, husband and moreover a very loving son,  who are all important men in my life. 
The meet had more than what I expected. I stand to applaud Indiblogger for working towards a much needed change. The bloggers were treated to wonderful music when some beautiful small girls let themselves go and danced there freely. Suddenly, I thought of the girl who was raped in Delhi. Wasn't she dancing just like that when some stupid men decided to pacify their lust and libido at the cost of her innocence and life? Reading the reports of rapes of young girls below the age of 7 in newspaper recently, has terribly troubled my psychological balance. I have more anger seething in me at present than I have ever felt in my life.
When the question was asked by Anoop as to why should we ring the bell, Nabanita aptly answered him, “It is because those girls who were dancing there can continue to dance”. May be even she had the thoughts of the rape victim on her mind. 
The bloggers had many issues to talk about from upbringing, men staring at women, rapes, child abuse and domestic violence. I am not sure how right I am when I say, women do not have to wait for the bell to ring and suffer in silence. They have to become the warning bells themselves, who will not tolerate violence of any kind, but retaliate. There are situations and instances in which a victim (men or women) may be overpowered, but most of the domestic violence takes place because the victim suffers in silence. If they try to find a solution for it, maybe they will find it. First there has to be a will to stop the violence against women.
Domestic violence is like an addiction. If you do not say ‘NO’ the first time, you may never get out of the whirlpool that will suck you inside strongly. Men who beat their wives become habituated to beating them for some sadistic pleasure, whereas the wives get adjusted to situation and beating, they continue to be battered and heal from the wounds and suffer in silence. As it continues to be a part of their life they may find some kind of pleasure in the sympathy, glorification or whatever they get out from the situation. This may not be true in all cases but it does happen. In my childhood I had once heard a woman telling my mom, “My husband has not lifted his hand on me in the past week. You know how he beats me every day? Do you think he is sick or something?”
Unfortunately or fortunately, I can’t relate to the pain of those women who suffer domestic violence day in, day out throughout their life. I am not a victim of violence of any kind. I have only witnessed the pain and suffering of women who have been through it. My dad had punished me when I was small girl for some religious arguments, petty fights at home with my grandmother and things like that until he decided it was not worth the noise I generated. That was lesson number ‘1’ I learnt in my life. Do not suffer in silence. It only encourages the person who is hurting you. I have defended my rights strongly, and often people do not mess with me.  
I know my weaknesses too. I know that if I was the woman who was attacked by 5 men in a lonely spot, I cannot defend myself, if I was the girl who was showered with acid when walking home from work I cannot do anything, I know if a strong man decides to hit me, I may not be able to overpower him. Physically, women are weaker than men. But then, no man will hit me and then peacefully fall asleep in the same house where I am living, because he knows I will not forget or forgive him easily. People are always afraid of consequences of their actions. It is only when they can get away with a social crime, do they keep repeating it. Domestic violence is not a spur of the moment madness either. It happens again and again because there are no consequences for their action.

After some discussions, we had a show presented by the ‘Breakthrough’ and ‘Ring the Bell’ team. The bloggers were treated to the play ‘Durga’ about the woman who suffers domestic violence for 18 years for no fault of hers. Her husband insults, hits and abuses her. When she tries to defend herself once, the society makes her suffer more insult by making her ask forgiveness from her husband. It was a wonderful performance from a solo artist.
The question posed for the bloggers was, “What Durga must have done in the situation?” Everyone had their own opinions from the woman walking out of marriage, fixing her husband to my own version of retaliating. I know none of them is a proper solution. The problem is not so easy to handle. We all have our own versions of solutions, which may work for one person but fail for other. Someone asked me to show compassion to the person who is abusing his wife. That is not my cup of tea. Again it is easier said than done. I am sure those people who promote compassion would not show it when they are the victims. Ahimsa is a theory, not a practical solution to all problems. It is good for a saint who is meditating on Himalayas, not for the woman who has drunkard husband.
What I loved the most among the discussion was the question posed by country lead of initiative Ring The Bell, “Why women are asked to find solutions for the problem that lies with men, why should they fix men, hold the marriage or bear the brunt of everything?” We need to find answer for that question. We need to tell the women that they alone are not responsible for holding up the relationship and it is not their fault that they were abused by psychotic men. 
We need to make men more sensitive to the problems of women. Let the men show that not all of them are brutes who do not have love and respect for women. Let them stand up and fight for the rights of the women. 


Rayyan Lost in Laptop

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