by Girl Arise | May 20, 2022 | Blog, Girl Arise
This blog post was written by Sharmistha Mistry, a young adult from the Jagatpur community in Kolkata where we work. These are her beautiful thoughts on a mother and motherhood.
নিস্বার্থভাবে যদি কেউ ভালোবেসে থাকে তবে সেটা মা
কোনো আশা আঙ্কাক্ষা ছাড়া আমাদের ভালোবেসে চলেছে
“আচ্ছা মা” বলতো তুমি কী দিয়ে তৈরি??
শত আঘাত লাগা সত্বেও তুমি আমাদের বিন্দুমাত্রও বুঝতে দাওনা I
জানি তুমি “মা” তাও তার আগে তুমি তো একটা রক্তে মাংসে তৈরি মানুষ না কি!
আচ্ছা!! আমি যে রোজ তোমায় বলি যাও আমার তোমায় প্রয়োজন নেই
তুমি তখন ওমন হাসো কেন??
এই সেদিনও বললাম যাও আমি খাবো না তুমি খেয়ে নাও
কই তুমি তো একা খেলে না!
জানি তুমি মা ! তবুও নিজেকে নিয়ে একটুও কেন ভাবো না!
এই যে আমাদের তোমরা সব মায়েরা মিলে খালি একই কথা বলো “আমি ছাড়া তোর এই রাগ , জেদ , অভিমান কেউ সহ্য করবে না!”
সত্যি কী তোমরা ছাড়া কেউ আমাদের এমন নিস্বার্থ ভালো বাসবে নাহ?
ঠিক আছে বাবা আজ না হয় একটু আগেই খেয়ে নাও বললেও
কেন তুমি আমায় ছাড়া খাও না
আাচ্ছা দেখবে আজ আমি তোমার থেকেও ভালো রান্না করবো দেখে নিয়ো…………..মাআআআআআআ ও মা
দেখো না মাছ টা উলটাতে পারছিনা
তখন তোমার বকুনি আর কান মোলা
বুঝিয়ে দেয় তুমি ছাড়া আমি অসম্পূর্ণ
জানি তো আমি তোমায় ছাড়া কিছুই পারবো না
চলো মা আজ তোমায় আমার মতো করে একটু সাজাই প্লিজ্
তখন তুমি বলো “নাহ্ বাপু আমি ওমন সাজ সাজব না , তুই সাজ”
তবে যখন তোমার ওই প্রিয় শাড়িটা পড়ে সাজি তখন তো সবার চেয়ে বেশি তুমিই প্রশংসা করো
এই যে দেখো তোমায় আমি একটুও ভালোবাসি না বললেও
তুমি এটাই যেনো যে সবচেয়ে বেশি আমিই তোমায় ভালোবাসি
এই যে তোমায় যে খালি বলি তুমি আামায় একটুও বোঝো না
জানি তখন তোমার খারাপ লাগে, কষ্ট হয়,
কিন্তু কি করবো বলো আমারো যে খুব খারাপ লাগে কষ্ট হয়
>আমি তোমায় খুব ভালোবাসি
তাই তোমার প্রতি আমার অভিমানটাও একটু বেশি
হয়তো কখনো মুখ ফুটে তেমন বলা হয় না তোমায়
যে ,আমি তোমাকে কতোটা ভালোবাসি
তা বলে এই না যে তোমায় কষ্ট পেতে দেখে আমার কষ্ট হয় না
আমার ও অনেক কষ্ট হয় আমি বলতে পIরি না I
মান অভিমান সব চলবে তবুও ভালোবাসা কখনো কমবে না দেখো তুমি
আর হ্যাঁ ওই বিয়ের সময় আমি কিন্তু বলতে পIরবো না যে “মা আমি তোমার সব রূণ
কারণ আর যাই হোক তোমার এই ভালোবাসার রূণ আমি শোধ করতে পারবো
“আজ খুব ইচ্ছে করলো মা কে নিয়ে কিছু লিখি তবে ভাবছি মা কে নিয়ে কী বা লিখবো সে যে সব লেখার বাস্তব রূপ সব লাইনের আসল মানে তাকে নিয়ে কি বা লেখা যাবে “এই যে অমানবিকতার মাঝেও মা আমাদের অবিরাম আগলে রেখেছে অসম্ভব ভালোবেসেছে আর কি দরকার আমাদের” তাই আজ এই বিশেষ দিনে আমি মা কে নিয়ে নতুন কিছু না লিখে, নতুন কিছু না বলে, মায়ের ভালোবাসা আমাদের প্রতি এটাই বললাম” “ভালো থাকুক পৃথিবীর সকল মায়েরা” সবাই কে জানাই মাতৃ দিবসের “প্রণাম”ও”ভালোবাসা” I কারণ প্রতিদিনই মা দিবস I
আমি এটাই বিশ্বাস করি যে
মনুষত্ব্য যেখানে শূণ্য
মাতৃত্ব্য সেখানে অনন্য!!
Translation In English
If there is anyone who can love unconditionally, it’s a mother, a person who continues to love without any vested interest.
“Hey Mom, what are you made of that even in the face of adversities and challenges you never let us realize it?”
“I know you are a Mother, but aren’t you also a human with feelings and emotions?” “Sometimes when I tell you, I don’t need you, why do you look at me with a smile?”
The other day when I told you I don’t want to eat, you did not eat either and continued waiting for me to eat. I know you are a mother, but why don’t you think about your well being too?
When all you mothers tell us children that no one will tolerate our anger, our mood swings and tantrums except you, is it true that indeed no one else will? Anyway, why don’t you go ahead and eat instead of waiting for me today? I know you still will not eat no matter how many times I tell you to.
On certain days I feel that I will be an even better cook than you. Yet when I fail, I immediately realize and remember that I am incomplete without you, I know I cannot do anything without you.
Sometimes when I wish to dress you up, you don’t let me. Yet when I wear your favourite saree, you are the one who praises me the most. “Hey Mom, even though I sometimes tell you that I don’t love you, I want you to know that I love you the most.”
I know I sometimes complain that you don’t understand me, I know it hurts you, but it hurts me too. I love you the most but I also know that sometimes I end up hurting you the most.
I know we will have lots of fights and disagreements, but I want you to know that the love between us will never wither, it will stay fresh through all seasons. When I get married and go to my husband’s house, I will still forever stay indebted to you for you have given me your all.
I thought of writing something about you today, but what can I even write, words fall short to describe you. In a world where humanity seems to be fading away with every passing day, a world where love seems to be so fragile and conditional, you have loved me with your all, what more can I even want? What more can I even desire?
Hence, on this auspicious day, rather than writing something new about my mom, rather than saying something new about her, I pray that every mother would have a beautiful, healthy and fruitful life.
I believe where humanity ends, motherhood starts. Wishing every mother a Happy Mother’s day, because every day is Mother’s day!
by Girl Arise | May 12, 2022 | Blog, Girl Arise
Together, we are an ocean. “Individually, we are a drop.”- Ryunosuke Satoro
An old farmer, while settling a dispute among his children, picked up a stick from the ground and said, “One stick can be broken, but a group of sticks cannot be broken.” It is the same with us, women. There is nothing stronger than a woman shouldering other women. Togetherness is the glue that can strengthen, encourage, and heal women from all walks of life.
The National Girl Me Too day is different from the #metoo movement. In the US, Symonia Montgomery, the creator of the National Girl Me Too movement, and many others celebrate the National Girl Me Too day with a vision to heal the past, empower the future and encourage relationships among women. The phrase, “Girl, me too,” is used when women mutually relate to each other’s experiences and challenges.
If you told me as a young girl you struggled to accept your body, or you felt unheard among a group of men, or as a grown woman you are uncomfortable to travel at night, I would say, “Girl, me too,” to all of the above.
In India, we can celebrate the national “Girl me too” movement by recognizing the struggles of our sisters from rural India. I heard someone say, “rural India and urban India are almost like two different countries.” I couldn’t agree more. The struggles overcome by an urban woman are the present struggles of a rural woman. For example, access to higher education or toilets inside the home. This year, let us try to learn about their struggles, come up with positive solutions, and encourage discussions about issues faced by rural women. Secondly, we must uplift and not step on someone’s shoulders. The concept of pulling another down to win a race for success benefits only for a short term. Along the way, someone with the same mentality will pull you down, thus the cycle continues.
Gone are the days where mother-in-law and daughter-in-law banters were laughed at, the mistress controlled the maid, and female friendships meant sudden backstabs. We can change the narratives our screens portray by encouraging and cherishing relationships with our mothers, mother-in-laws, sisters, friends, female co-workers, and maids. One might ask, how would building female-centred relationships help me?
According to Forbes, “Study after study shows women who support women are more successful in business.” Build a sorority, a support system of women who can understand you, empathise with you, and give good advice. One common misconception that everyone feels is that “my struggle is my own, and nobody can understand it.” It just takes one look around to see several women who have felt, faced, and experienced the same. Women unknowingly create a safe space to express themselves freely to other women. For ages, washroom chit chats, book clubs, and tea parties created a safe space for women to freely express their challenges, opportunities, and struggles.
Rukmini Rao, was one of those women who supported other women during the emergency period in 1981 with “Saheli,” she helped women facing domestic violence with social, legal, and economic support.
The “Padwoman of India,”Maya Vishwakarma, born in rural India, talks about her own struggle to access sanitary pad later facing several complications due to the lack of awareness. Her struggle inspired her to go on a mission to change the stigma around menstruation. A unique bank, created by Chetna Sinha, loans money to rural women in a small town in Maharashtra. Chetna has provided financial aid to women by giving them flexible pay on a day-to-day basis and the freedom to pick loans that range from 15 to 5,000 rupees. Her vision is to raise female entrepreneurs from this small town and towns across India. Several women, like Rukmini, Chetna, and Maya, believed in the power of togetherness, a bond that can heal our past and empower our future.
How can we celebrate Girl Me Too Day in India?
Here are a few small but creative ways you can celebrate Girl Me Too Day in India.
The girls get-to-gather
Gather your friends, co-workers, sisters, and take some time to reflect on each other’s challenges and how each one overcame them over the last year. This is a great way to learn from other women and to positively reflect on the past.
The cheesy bowl
If you’re on a tight schedule, take 20 minutes to gather your girls and play the cheesy bowl of writing unnamed positive, uplifting notes. Scatter them in a bowl. Everyone gets to pick one note and feel encouraged for the day.
Positive affirmation gifts
Nobody hates gifts, especially when they are unexpected. You could create posters, or buy mugs, that celebrate the relationship between your girl group. A printed t-shirt works its magic every time.
There is a power in togetherness, friendships, and real life stories. To quote a proverb from the book of Ecclesiastes, “It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.” Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! ’ I say this in response to a song by Andra Day.
And we’ll rise up, we’ll rise up
We’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
We’ll rise up
And we’ll do it a thousand times again.
This blog was contributed by our intern Ruth Anugraha, a II MA Communication student from Chennai. Inspired by our work in fighting colourism, and creating awareness on child abuse, online literacy and mental health, Ruth has chosen to work with us and add value wherever she can.
by Girl Arise | Oct 21, 2021 | Blog, Girl Arise
In a world where we get so many messages from social media, TV, and radio on how we need to look, what we need to wear, and how we need to be, we need to remember that each of us is special and unique in each person’s own way.
You have so many special gifts that make you – YOU. I wrote “I’m Special” to remind and empower every woman around the globe that you are special just the way you are. You don’t need to change your looks and the size of your body just to “fit.” You were born into this world to create a better reality, to lead, to follow your dreams, and to make a change. That change can start only from you accepting yourself, accepting the things you think are not good enough in you, and embracing and strengthening the traits that make you unique.
In my B.A. in Psychology and Sociology, I’ve studied and researched the power of words. I highly believe in the power of words and how it affects your reality. For example, when you listen and sing to the chorus of “I’m Special”, “I know what I can do and how far I’ll go – cos I’m myself – I’m Special.” I want you to feel empowered, unique, strong, and that you have infinite possibilities to achieve your dreams by being yourself. My mission in this world is to help women go through a journey of self-love and acceptance through lyrics and music.
What is beautiful and “normal” is a matter of where you grew up and what culture tells you is “right” and what is not. The secret is to understand what makes you special, different, and embrace your special traits as your strength to make a difference and make this world a better place. If someone tells you that you are not good enough, that you can’t make it, that you are not beautiful enough – it’s just a reflection of what they think about themselves or what they have been told by others. No matter where you are located in this world right now, and if you had a bad day, remember that – You are Special.
I believe that every person’s soul lives inside their body and your body is your home. You should “feel comfortable in your own home” – in your own body. Reconnect with your body, your instincts, trust what your body tells you. Nowadays, society still tells us we should be thinner and we should lose weight just to look thin. It’s important to be healthy, to eat well, and exercise for a healthy body and soul while always understanding our natural body shape and our physiognomy.
I believe in you. I see you. I know you have the strength to overcome all the bad things people told you when you were a child and even now. I know how it feels to be treated as not good enough, people seeing only the size of your body and your looks and I can tell you that you have that innate light inside yourself that makes you unique and special. Please don’t keep that light only to yourself – share it with us – You are Special.
When I was a child, I was told to eat less and lose weight. My body was “not good enough”, “not thin enough” and I didn’t feel good about the way I looked. Later in life, I traveled to many places such as India, China, United States, Europe, and Africa. In these journeys, I had the honor to talk to many people from these countries, and I’ve heard things that I could not understand that shocked me.
I remember my enchanting trip to India, where I’ve seen the discrimination of people based on their color of skin, the obstacles people with darker skin (which I think is beautiful) face every day. I’ve seen women and men trying to bleach their skin to look whiter, basically, trying to look like others – not seeing that they are beautiful naturally. This really broke my heart.
In China, another fascinating country, I have heard the same thing about the beauty standards of having whiter skin but there I have heard about another phenomenon, surgical procedures to widen their eyes to look more western (a phenomenon that also happens in South Korea). In western countries, black women straighten their (amazing curly) hair to look like other women with straight hair. This is a phenomenon that is slowly changing, but black women who don’t straighten their hair may be seen as unprofessional and might not be hired to certain jobs just because of their hair. These are just some examples of things women experience every day. We have the power to create a better environment for women of all cultures around the world. There are many inspiring women all over the world who share their body positivity and body neutrality as a way of life which is very important in the reality we create. Each of these women started from a small step. The next step starts with you – by accepting yourself and remembering that you are special.
Women should not lose weight just to fit into another type of body dictated by other beauty standards. Sometimes our bodies change because of mental health issues and the pressure of our daily lives. There are women who may lose weight because of depression or disease. These women often get positive feedback from people saying “Wow, you’ve lost weight – you look great” or the opposite “Oh, you’ve gained weight” but usually they don’t see that inner soul which is damaged and just wants a hug or support. What really matters is how you nourish your body and soul. Your body is precious because it gives you the opportunity to express your special soul. So be kind to your body, remember to make your body a warm and happy place to live in.
No matter what is the shape of your body and what size the fashion industry labeled you, you are a model. People always told me that I’m not thin, that I’m not fat – that I’m “In between”. I know many women who are under the “In between” category. I think that this categorization of women and models as “models” or “Plus Size Models” or “In between” is completely wrong and has a horrible effect on the body image of women. The fashion industry should stop categorizing women just because of the shape of their bodies and start calling all models – “models”, no matter which size. Trust me, women don’t need the help of a label such as “Plus Size” to know what is the size of their bodies.
Diversity and inclusion are part of my core values in the art I create and share with you. I see so many talented, charismatic, intelligent, and gorgeous women who have so much to give to this world and they have so many dreams, but since they are physically disabled or with a certain syndrome, many doors are closed to them. I don’t see their disabilities – I see opportunities. I see what special gifts and wisdom they can share with us if only we give them the chance. Sometimes, because of our egos, we think we know better than others, better than those who we think are “inferior” to us, and we miss the opportunity to learn and grow together. There is room for everyone in this world, and we need to create this difference when we meet someone by seeing their special soul and not judging them by their appearance. We sometimes forget that we are all “disabled” in some way, some of us are disabled physically, but most of us are disabled, injured in some way from the inside (heartbroken, sad, depressed, anxious) – the fact that we can’t see the disability, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I would like to see more people with disabilities in companies, in the music and fashion industry, and in other sectors.
Adi Yacobi is a singer and songwriter. She has created the Women Empowerment Music Project, which is about body positivity, inclusion, self-acceptance, disability, diversity and women empowerment.
by Dolphy Biswas | Aug 15, 2021 | Blog, Girl Arise
As we celebrate 75 years of Independence, we think of the many sacrifices that have been made to help us be free. Sometimes, we appreciate the importance of this freedom only once in a year, failing to realize its true meaning. Is our nation and every person in this nation really free? Have we considered how many people–men, women and children are still craving for freedom today in our nation and around the world? What does being denied this basic human right look like for them?
When you see an 11 year old child, what comes to your mind generally? For me, I see the innocence of their lives through their laughter, the joy of dreams that need to be fulfilled and the hope and the desire to change the world. Children have unwavering faith and trust which makes them unique.
What happens when that same trust is broken? When their innocence is taken advantage of? When they are no longer allowed to dream the big dreams that they have and their hopes are crushed? That’s what trafficking does to them.
Trafficking restricts the basic freedom of a human being. It creates a bondage that may not be seen with chains but surely chains a person down. Freedom for a trafficked victim is being able to come out of the bondage and to be able to experience the world without someone dictating the terms of their lives. In India every 8 minutes a child goes missing. That’s not freedom! We have a long way to go before we can bring freedom to these lives.
Rescued to Freedom
In a recent rescue operation that I was a part of, the team rescued about 42 young women from a place of extreme abuse. What was overwhelming to see was the living conditions of these young children and women– they didn’t even have basic hygiene in the rooms they were being kept in.
In that moment, standing in the middle of the red light area, looking at that 11 year old fighting against the freedom that awaited her, I realized that trafficking and abuse is not just a distant concept, but a reality that rips a person apart and changes the definition of who a child is.
Four to six young girls were cramped in a room with a hole in the ground which constituted a urinal for them. They didn’t have the freedom of movement or the right to express their opinion. Yet, when help was rendered to them to come out of that space, they were hostile and resistant. The idea of freedom was nonexistent for them.
When the team went to a quiet 11 year old sitting on a bed, visibly abused and tortured by a middle aged man, she resisted even a gentle loving gesture to help her out of the room. She started screaming and crying.
Time stopped for me at that moment, and I realized how bondage works. This child was literally made into a ‘slave’ to the madams and pimps who ‘owned’ her. She couldn’t see the hope and the dreams that lay ahead of her. I realized that freedom is something I have taken for granted in my life.
I saw that the innocence of these children was crushed and they were manipulated into believing that what they are experiencing is good for them. In spite of all that is being done to end the trafficking and the abuse of children, there is still so much more that needs to be done. The evil of sex trafficking permeates every part of society without exception– every child in this world is vulnerable to it.
Two days after our rescue operation, this entire red light area was shut down by the District Magistrate. Every single brothel, every single shop was sealed and the entire area was shut off and all commercial sex workers were removed from the area. This is historic.
Statistics tell us that 60% of the people who are trafficked are children. In that moment, standing in the middle of the red light area, looking at that 11 year old fighting against the freedom that awaited her, it dawned on me that trafficking and abuse is not just a distant concept, but a reality that rips a person apart and changes the definition of who a child is.
Freedom Is A Process
Eventually, bringing these 42 young women out of that place of abuse and while speaking with them, I realized that freedom is not something that happens overnight. It is a process. It is a fight, but that fight is worth it because it changes the course of history. These 42 young women will never again have to worry about being abused by multiple men every night and day.
Two days after our rescue operation, this entire red light area was shut down by the District Magistrate. Every single brothel, every single shop was sealed and the entire area was shut off and all commercial sex workers were removed from the area. This is historic. We had only read about this in law books, but to experience the shut down of a whole red light area was a first time experience!
As a team, we are so thankful for the police officers and the government social and rehabilitation teams who are committed to putting a stop to this, no matter the dangers and complications involved.
Every citizen has the right to live with human dignity and all other aspects which make life meaningful, complete and worth living.
To help a fellow human being get the freedom they deserve is one of the most rewarding experiences one can ever have. Over 75 years ago the fight that our freedom fighters fought and the pain that they and their families experienced, helps us to live today in a country where every citizen has the right to live with human dignity and all other aspects which make life meaningful, complete and worth living.
May I encourage you dear reader, to look for ways in which you could engage in your community and partner with people or organizations in bringing freedom to the countless men, women and children being held in bondage and trafficked for sex, bonded labour, the organ trade, the skin trade and more.
Let us allow our hearts to be stirred by the pain of our fellow Indians, and may we never stop fighting till each life is meaningful, complete and worth living.
Dolphy Biswas is Partnerships Director at Women Of Worth. She has about 10 years of experience in rescue operations to free young children from the sex trade and is passionate about bringing freedom to children who are trapped into commercial sexual exploitation. She regularly rescues girls from trafficking and dreams of a day when there won’t be anymore children who are exploited.
by Women Of Worth | Jun 9, 2020 | Blog, Fearless Project, Girl Arise
When we all first started hearing about COVID-19 we assumed that it would not be ‘our’ problem. It was ‘their’ problem. The reality hit the country at the end of March, with the lockdown in place. While some of us were thinking of ‘being safe’ in the comfort of our homes there was a segment of society that didn’t know what safety meant. They didn’t know how to get the next meal for themselves. In the middle of a busy city like Kolkata with millions of people, in the north lies a community of about 44,000 people who are daily wage labourers, domestic help, rickshaw pullers and garbage cleaners. They are the people who make our lives comfortable.
WHO ARE THE PUNCHING BAGS?
With the people of the community losing their income and their future looking bleak, there was an increase in frustration, hopelessness and anxiety among the people. One of the biggest issues in our nation is the fact that only some of us have access to the legal remedial and to justice. There are millions of people in our country who are far away from receiving access to justice or even legal help.
It was during this time that the WoW team in Kolkata was able to connect with some of the city authorities. The team assured them that they were available to stand by the authorities to help during the time of crisis.
Very quickly this community was introduced to the WoW team. The team was told that it would be a difficult place to work at and would be uncomfortable. We were ready for the challenge.
When we first walked into the community it was indeed something words couldn’t have prepared us for. The houses were crowded- on top of each other literally. There was no sense of lockdown being executed and there were people everywhere. There was no space for social distancing in the area. There was a feeling of hopelessness and sadness in the air. We quickly befriended the political leaders in the area and worked alongside them to reach out to the women and children. We were given a little shack in the middle of the vegetable market where we could station ourselves and wait for the women who would come to buy their daily groceries to find us and speak with us. We were immediately asked to intervene in some of the cases that were happening in the community and help with the problems.
The very first intervention was for a 25- year old lady who was married for about 8 months. Her in laws wanted a dowry of Rs. 2,00,000 but the family was only able to give Rs. 1,80,000. The in laws were not happy with the amount and she was continuously raped by her husband and many times by her father in law as well. On the day we were called, there was some major issue that had happened and the in laws set her on fire. We immediately assisted in getting her transferred to the hospital, being with her late in the evening to ensure she knew there was someone for her.
She was burnt 60% and it was a long and hard few days of battling for her life. We stood with her and helped in getting the statements to law enforcement. Unfortunately, she didn’t live to see justice done.
It was not easy to see her dying right in front of us and we wished there was a different end to her story and her life. She didn’t know she could have received justice for herself since her fight was for survival.
In another instance a 19-year old girl from a Hindu family ran away from home and got married to a 22-year old boy from a Muslim family. There was a lot of tension in the home because of the different faiths. The boy’s family, specifically his mother, would often beat the girl, since she didn’t accept her being from another faith. She was three months pregnant when her mother in law took her to someone in the mosque who looked at the girl and said she was pregnant with a girl child. The mother in law wanted a boy and therefore the severity of the abuse increased. When it got out of control, she ran out of the house to look for help and lost the baby the same night. She didn’t have the security to return to her parental house because they wouldn’t accept her back. We helped in counselling her, standing with her in the hospital, seeing the still born baby and sending the baby for cremation. We were there to support her, so that she knew she wasn’t alone especially when her own family despised her. She chose to return back to her in laws and continue to stay with her husband. She had no complaints against them. She didn’t want to go to the police or resort to any legal action since her survival and security of family and home was more important than fighting for her rights and for justice. We have continued to stand with her to ensure her safety and protection.
In another case, under the influence of alcohol, a girl from the same community was being beaten up by her husband. When we reached, we saw her dripping in petroleum and had we not intervened she would have been burnt alive. We were able to remove her and repatriate her back to her house in Sunderbans. It was a 4-hour long journey to take her back home by road and then crossing over the river in a boat.
Unfortunately, she was not safe in the maternal house either. We are unsure of the details of what happened, but it’s most likely that she was beaten, abused and died a couple of days later.
We couldn’t return back to help her because of the approaching cyclone and all communication on the Bay of Bengal was interrupted. Where was her justice? Did she really need a functional system or people to just be there for her?
What was common for all of the three women was that they needed basic security. They needed to know they are more important than dowry, than the child they would give birth to and that their lives mattered. They needed people to come and stand with them, affirm their worth and teach them that they had a right to life and dignity.
About the Author: Dolphy Biswas is from Kolkata and is passionate about working for women and children who don’t have a voice to speak up for themselves. For the past few years, as a community worker , Manager, and trainer with Women of Worth, she is involved in addressing the needs of women and adolescent girls in crisis situations. The COVID-19 pandemic became a season of torture for many of these women and girls who were already vulnerable. Dolphy has been able to do daily visits and be a source of support.
by Kavitha Emmanuel | Aug 14, 2019 | Blog, Girl Arise
India’s current population is 1.35 billion and women constitute nearly half of it. The decreasing male-female ratio is indeed alarming but that may not change till we address our root issues. It is hard to change that just with policies and policing. Have you ever considered why and how almost one half of our population are also counted among the ‘marginalized’? How can such a huge segment of the population continue to be among the ‘marginalized’ for the last 73 years? The answer to that is not just in fighting for newer policies alone but in bringing about a transformation of culture itself. Transforming our culture is about changing prevailing mindsets from the grassroots level up and in this case that would mean challenging stereotypes birthed by patriarchal notions and norms.
Every time you raise your voice for your own freedom, to be who you are, you are also fighting for those around you. Freedom is contagious.
– Kavitha Emmanuel
So, the level of independence a woman experiences also determines the level of cultural progress in a community and this hugely affects the progress of the nation as a whole. When we talk about ‘independence’ we have to remember that it is not to create societies that are ‘individualistic’. The sort of independence that we are addressing here is about having the freedom to be, to choose and to decide. For women this sort of independence means that they need to have access to equal opportunity in all spheres. It also means that a woman’s perspectives are to be given equal weightage in all decision making processes across boardrooms and leadership teams. This can happen only when we radically change the very male-oriented definitions of leadership and include women as leaders in all avenues.
Every woman should feel the freedom to lead her own life, make her own choices. Every woman within the structures of families should be a leader still in her own right and not be pushed to a corner when it comes to decision making.
Freedom Is Our Birth-Right
Leadership positions are easily offered today for women at the workplace but is she still that vivacious leader when she comes home? True cultural transformation is to see women and men as inter-independent individuals in families and within communities. This means that each individual is a person in their own right even within a family but there is also a healthy mutual sharing of lives. Marriage should be seen as a merging of dreams and visions. Patriarchal norms have so submerged our subconscious minds and thinking patterns that giving up their decision making rights comes as second-nature to women.
As Indian women, our true celebration begins when we can boldly speak up for what is truly ours. Freedom is our birth-right. It is true that we have come to experience more freedom today than our predecessors. Always remember that every time you raise your voice for your own freedom, to be who you are, you are also fighting for those around you. Freedom is contagious. Are you determined to fight for your freedom? In doing so the others will experience it too.
So, don’t stay silent when you face any injustice. Speak up. When you need help, ask for it. Be free. Be yourself!
Kavitha Emmanuel is the founder of Women Of Worth, India. She is an advocate for women’s issues and believes that every individual is unique and intrinsically valuable.