[By Samreen Mushtaq, and Anshul Bhamra]
With a view to join and strengthen the global “One Billion Rising for Justice” Campaign, Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women’s Studies Jamia Millia Islamia organized a program comprising a dance, a street play and a panel discussion at FTK Auditorium on Tuesday, 11th February 2014. The One Billion Rising campaign, started by feminist-activist Eve Ensler in 2011, is a call to demand an end to violence against women and girls, to rise for justice and promotion of gender equality.
The program started with students, both boys and girls, dancing to the tunes of “Jaago Dilli Jaago” and “Break The Chain”, whose lyrics spoke of the need to rise and stand up for justice for women. Farkhanda, a student of M.A. Human Rights at Jamia Millia Islamia, who participated in the dance, spoke to Jamia Journal about the need to come forward and participate in such programs. “I think there is a need to generate more awareness, for the level of violence against women is on rise. If being a student of Human Rights I don’t speak up for someone’s rights, my degree is of no use. So this was a great opportunity for me to contribute in some way.”
This was followed by a Nukkad Naatak (street play) by mostly school going students, centred round the theme of women’s issues. It highlighted female infanticide, domestic violence, dowry deaths, rapes, patriarchy, the need for women empowerment etc. Speaking to Jamia Journal, Nasreen, a participant in the play expressed, “We still see discrimination happening against women, even in our homes. Rapes happen almost every day. So organizing such programs becomes all the more important to send out a strong message that this won’t be tolerated and why we all need to speak up together against such inhumanity”, adding that awareness must start first from our home itself.
The panel discussion that followed was chaired by Dr. Bulbul Dhar, Director, Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women’s Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia. The panelists included eminent lawyer Mr. Ohri, Ms. Anjalee Agarwal, a member of Samarthaya Organisation and Dr. Kamala Bhasim, South Asia coordinator of the “One Billion Rising” campaign.
Mr. Ohri focused on how the Indian constitution has some of the best laws ever made for women and for promoting her respectful sustainability but lacks severely in implementation. He gave examples of Article 354-b and 354-D where awkward moments in and around the house as well as stalking are also made punishable under law. “But the major problem is that women and girls don’t come out and complain for most of the harassment and molestation they face”, Mr. Ohri voiced. “Moreover, the approach of police officers in these cases is also of poor nature which all the more reduces the probability of such complaints.”
Next to speak, Ms. Anjalee Agarwal gave a presentation on “This-ability” whereby she spoke of the prejudices and problems faced by differently abled individuals including women in various circumstances. She emphasized on Right to Education Act whereby it is unlawful for a school to not take admissions of disables and hence questionable by law. She also threw light on the need for information in all mediums for everyone to feel connected with the system. “Everybody must be provided livelihood rights, tourism possibilities if wished for, accessible toilets. Ladies special buses and “ladies only” coach in Metro are successful steps towards safety, freedom and respect of women”, Ms. Agarwal said.
Dr. Kamala Bhasin finished the discussion with her indomitable style of talking feminism and inspired and infused energy all around the conference hall. Speaking of the UN Charter, she said that the Charter in 1948 asserted that all human beings are born equal and free in dignity and rights. “Therefore we must raise voice and stand for rights of women, tribals, differently abled, dalits because India did not gave rights to only rich, ‘normal bodied’ Hindu Men.” The justice that Kamala Bhasin elaborated differed into two kinds, one being the constitutional justice and other which can be seen in families in the daily life of an individual. “The immediate society, the surrounding and people in vicinity, the mohalla is supposed to resign and not police officers if any inhumane activity happens around them,” she said, adding that the society should take the charge and abandon the criminal and not the victim. Dr. Bhasin said she joined “One Billion Rising” because it gives her energy and courage, making her feel that many drops like her assemble together to form an ocean of rising and hence acts as a great motivation.
Watch a short video clip of young school girls perform the song “Jaago Dilli Jaago” at Jamia Millia Islamia here: