Friday, December 28, 2012

Saying Goodbye

It has been over two weeks since the 2012 campaign ended, giving me a fair amount of time to recover and reflect. This post, my final task as the 2012 Campaign Associate, is a personal one. I have been a part of the Prajnya team for three months, long enough to become completely immersed in the campaign and to absorb and internalise Prajnya’s values and ideals. In spite of this, I hope you will believe that I am objective enough to say, without sounding like I am indulging in shameless self-promotion, that this campaign is a truly wonderful initiative, in so many ways.

The horrific assault of a young woman by a group of men on a moving bus in New Delhi, raped so brutally that her guts literally spilled out of her tortured body, has dominated the national discourse over the last few days. What this incident, and the many responses to it have revealed, is that gender sensitisation in our country is urgent and essential. This is what the campaign primarily aims to do, and what it does most successfully, in my opinion, by educating and informing both target audiences and the general public about gender violence. The quality of the resource persons who volunteered their time to speak at various campaign events was outstanding, and I was uplifted to see the impact they had in changing attitudes and opinions on violence against women.

I was also struck by the cathartic effect this campaign has, in its ability to organically create a safe space that allows women to speak freely about their experiences with gender violence. It was evident that many of these women had rarely (perhaps never) spoken about these incidents before. I never did share my own stories during the 16 days, preferring to listen and observe; yet, like every woman living in India that I have encountered, I have many. Some of those episodes left me feeling confused, some, sad, some, angry; but every time, every single time, I was afraid; and it is that fear, that wretched fear, which cripples you, knocks the air out of your lungs, makes you disoriented, inarticulate, helpless, that this campaign is fighting against, and fighting to extinguish, and that is why I am so proud to have been a part of it.
A campaign as ambitious as ours could not have happened without the assiduity and enthusiasm of the many people I had the opportunity to work with. I would like to thank Dr Swarna Rajagopalan and Anupama Srinivasan - from my first day, you both made me feel welcome, valued and appreciated. Thank you for never being selfish with your knowledge, and for always having faith in me. Subhashini Selvanathan, who does so much and takes so little credit – thank you for being such a strong and ever-reliable pillar of support. Thanks to Jennifer Raj, my constant companion throughout the 16 days, who lightened my load considerably, and who made many a car ride less dreary with her eclectic stories.

Thanks to all our volunteers this year, who took time out from their busy schedules to lend a helping hand. A very special thank you to Shyamala Rajagopalan; your generosity and affection were invaluable, and I will never forget your sweet tea, which has converted me into a regular tea-drinker. And finally, thank YOU, all of you, for reading our blog, for following our activities on Facebook and Twitter, for coming to our campaign events, for writing to us, for being involved.

It’s been a great journey.

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