Monday, November 18, 2013

And the 2013 Campaign Calendar is up!

After two whole months of ideating, planning and scheduling, we finally have the 2013 Campaign Calendar! While some of this year’s events were planned over the past two months, some others, like the workshop for beauticians on identifying and tackling domestic violence have been on Prajnya’s wishlist for almost five years now!

The gang rape in December 2012 sparked countless conversations about gender violence. The Prajnya team thought hard about what would be the best intervention on its part and this year we are looking at a “deepening-widening” process. Now that we have acknowledged the prevalence of gender violence, what next? How do we respond to it? What sort of support systems need to be put into place? What are the legal aspects of this issue? What socio-cultural structures is this violence embedded in? We are looking to engage in substantial conversations with specific audiences. We have always valorised process over events, and used the campaign as a time for initiating processes and piloting programmes for the year to come.

In 2008, we made a conscious choice to use the term ‘gender violence’ in the name of the campaign, and we have made conscious efforts to invite men to work with us to end violence. This year, through programmes like gender sensitisation for male college students and our Call for Videos we hope to drive home the point that men are as much a part of the solution as women are. Not only do we believe that men can be a part of the change – we have proof that they are willing to be, with individual male volunteers and largely male groups joining hands with Prajnya to create awareness. The forum on masculinities is an attempt to understand the various adverse demands that patriarchy makes of men and in turn, the violence it perpetuates on both men and women. But to look at gender as a binary and not a spectrum is a kind of violence in itself. Gender identities are unstable and plural; gender violence is perpetuated not just against both genders, but against all genders. This is what we plan to explore through our programme, ‘The Violence of the Norm’ which uses performance and discussion to highlight the impact of gender normativity on all our lives.

The focus of the campaign is not so much on events as on processes. Our campaign for safer spaces in which popular Chennai businesses promise zero-tolerance towards harassment will be a sustained effort towards asserting women’s rights to public spaces and their rights in these places. By enabling their customers to report harassment, they will help break the cycle of silence which is the first step in addressing the problem of violence. Given the success of the Community Café format (which was a part of last year’s calendar and has continued to remain on the GRIT agenda) in starting conversations around gender violence in intimate spaces, we have set aside time for that this year as well.

Another focus area of the campaign is resource creation. We would like our website to function as a portal for those interested in understanding gender violence.  Hence, the blog symposium on structural violence that will explore the gender-based violence embedded in social structures and customs that create a culture of impunity; and the video resource on disability and gender violence. We will also be putting out short reports after the conclusion of events like the discussion on transport (In Transit to Safety) and the colloquium on gender violence and the digital media, and these can be used as resources.

As with previous campaigns, this year’s calendar addresses different kinds of gender violence – domestic violence, workplace sexual harassment, street harassment, embedded violence, violence perpetuated by the state and intersectional violence; and also the very many aspects of violence – socio-cultural, economic, legal, spatial, health, cyber. We have also reached out to different kinds of organisations, as always. While we hope to reach a large spectrum of people within the city, we also hope to engage with a much larger audience through our online platforms. Through the 16 days, we hope to post features, short posts, factoids and interviews on this blog. We also have our blog symposium on structural violence and we sincerely hope that all of you will engage with the essays. Do follow us also on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.

Looking forward to your continued support and engagement over the next three weeks!

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