This is Namita who studied with me all the time I was in India. She eventually went out on her own and is now working in a call center in Gurgaon. We got together when I was back in July. She has grown to be a delightful young woman.
Sister Suja (right) was the Sister I spent the most time with at Holy Family. I last saw her in 2015 when I traveled to see her in Punjab, where she was transferred for two years. She is now back in Najafgargh. Her laugh is better than ever.
This young woman, surrounded by her husband and in-laws, is Yogita. She studied with me and went on field trips around Dehil while I was living there. Yogita later dropped out of school. She is now married and working in a shop. Suja Sister and I visited to meet her husband and in-laws.
I brought a weaving project so the girls could make something new. It was a school holiday when I visited, so many girls are away, but those who stay at Holy Family all summer are especially interested in new activities.
In Delhi, change initiatives are going straight to the people! And what better place to start than the metro?
Photo: The Hindu, April 8, Deeksha Teri
Volunteer students from Delhi University, all men, are taking up posts at ten metro stations and talking to commuters about gender equality, patriarchy, and violence. Organised by the Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ), it’s a small but necessary start to raising awareness. Volunteers are also helping individual victims by providing a toll-free support line for help and more information.
And, near and dear to my own heart, the CHSJ is releasing a book of four plays about gender-based violence and masculinity. Thank you, theatre for social awareness and change!
Join the Ek Saath campaign, all supported by Forum to Engage Men, One Billion Rising, and the India Alliance for Gender Justice.
December 16 is the 3rd anniversary of the horrific attack and rape of Jyoti Singh, later called Nirbhaya, in a neighborhood not far from where were living in Delhi. She died of her wounds shortly after, galvanizing a movement in India to speak up about the prevalence of violence against women.
The outcry garnered international attention, a critically acclaimed play (“Nirbhaya“) and a fine film, banned in India, (“India’s Daughter“.) The event was very much the backdrop for SPOILED, the play I created last year. Today, however, three years on, it is clear that meaningful change will be slow at best.
Nirbhaya The Play is still in performance, currently in Canada, and India’s Daughter is widely available on PBS. I urge you to see them.
My friends at MAVA (Men Against Violence and Abuse) in Mumbai are organizing one of many commemorative events today as well.
In the meantime, Smita Sharma has been interviewing and photographing rape victims and their families in India since she was 18. An exhibit of her work is now on display in Delhi but, thanks to the New York Times, you can see more of her photos and learn about her work with rape survivors here.
And, on a final worthwhile update, you can read or listen to more about Equal Community Foundation’s work with teenage boys. I have featured ECF before; NPR recently broadcast a story about them. It highlights interviews with some boys that are both utterly charming – teenage boys trying to figure out how to send love notes under the teacher’s watchful eye – and utterly dismaying – the rigid and almost humorously traditional ways that boys expect girls to behave. Take a look at Equal Community Foundation or listen to the story at NPR.