Rape Culture: An Unseen Reality

Igniting and sustaining action for change can be rigorous, and we at Haiyya are working towards building larger movements and victories that facilitate space for different actors to come together to change existing societal structures and norms that often limit us. Hence this year we re-launched “Haiyya Camps” a platform for diverse individuals to come together to share their experiences, ideas get trained on organizing and campaigning skills and tools to create tangible action plans on various pressing issues as a precursor to the upcoming 2019 elections that needs to be addressed urgently by citizens to stir a necessary change. It is a package of 5 camps in a year based on issues like environment, rape culture, privacy, etc. These Camps are also designed to provide opportunities to different organisations and individuals to collaborate and work together towards a common cause.

While the planning was going on for the Camp, there was something which was making everyone in our team angry and frustrated – it was the issue of “Rape Culture” and how people have started to normalise it in their lives. It was then that we decided that this is a very important issue that is often neglected, sidelined and no one is ready to talk about it “kyunki boss yeh sab toh chalta rehta hai na!” This thought was something that we wanted to change and make people realise that No, It’s one major issue that is not only affecting us as citizen but as a nation too.

How the day looked for us!

15 people joined us for our first Haiyya Camp on Sunday, 27th May. The camp started with an exercise to set the context. It focused on the issue and how deep rooted “Rape Culture” is in our society and some of the causes contributing to it were media objectifying our women in bollywood songs, advertisements, victim blaming in newspapers, lack of gender sensitization, etc. At the end of the exercise all participants learnt that how knowling and unknowingly despite being active advocates of change they too have been contributing to this growing “Rape Culture’.

The realization lead to a passionate discussion among the participants. Which was then followed by a session of Narrative building, an organizing tool to understand the shared values, emotions for individuals to come together and build relationships to take actions. It reflects why an individual cares about the issue and how he then motivates others to join him. This tool helps in creating urgency. Through this module the participants build their own narratives around the issue and shared their stories, experiences where they have seen or themselves been a part of this problem. It felt as if everyone in someway or other has gone through this terrible situation.

Some interesting ideas that came up

  • Both the sessions created the foundation for all the participants to build action plans. Plans that they as individuals/ groups can immediately take.
  • The group came up with interesting action plans like creating more awareness from the foundation targeting kids, parents, teachers, making sex education a part of the curriculum, creating safe spaces for people to address their grievances etc.
  • Through these ideas, together we build an action plan which focussed on what are the key things that we want to now start doing in our individual capacity, how as an individual we can try and bring a change in this society which doesn’t value it’s women.

The training ended on a beautiful note. All the participants were really moved by the issue. They all felt very motivated and energetic to work on the issue in their respective ways.

On a personal front it was sad to know that the mentality of our country is so narrow that they are too blind to understand the issue but at the same time it felt amazing to see the youth of our country coming up and trying to work on changing the traditional mindset which believes that Galti toh ladki ki hai!  I think people have forgotten that they all are in this world because a woman was powerful enough to take all the pain and give life to them and this thought really hurts me.

This is just a beginning and an important one to bring the necessary change. In the coming months more camps will be conducted on various pressing issues to create young leaders within our community who will challenge the status quo not as individuals but as a collective people power house. Those of you who are interested to participate please reach out to us at anjali@haiyya.in

By Anjali Prabhakar

Anjali Prabhakar is the senior campaigner at Haiyya leading the Haiyya Camps. She has been actively working on issues like Rape Culture, Violence against women, Voting rights, etc in the past with Haiyya.

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