Delhi video van campaign #StandWithMe started on 27th November and will run until 11th December. During these fifteen days, the video van will travel to various marketplaces, chowks, communities and campuses to engage with people on how to make public and private spaces a safer space for all genders – spaces free of judgement and prejudice. Our #StandWithMe campaign which speaks of the need to speak up and start intervening to create safer spaces stands in solidarity with the agenda of #16days of activism and other declarations against gender-based violence.
Our campaign was flagged off with an all women bike rally. The Women Biker’s Rally was organised in collaboration with The Bikerni – a pan-Indian network of women bikers. Founded by Urvashi Patole, the group and their stories sent out a powerful message of women reclaiming roads (public spaces) and free mobility. They appealed to other women to reclaim roads, means of transport and free mobility for self and for other women. The bike rally was followed by an inauguration function held at Safdarjung Park in Safdarjung Enclave. The Women Bikers were joined by youth from the Vilaspur Camp and Sangam Vihar, The Mirror theatre group and others from the street and nearby marketplace. Deputy Mayor of South Delhi and Geetha Nambisan from Jagori were also there.
The youth present at the event are volunteers at Casp Plan – an NGO working in the field of family and child welfare as well as community development. Breakthrough in collaboration with Casp Plan has been working with the youth by building their awareness on gender equality and gender justice and their capacity to become an agent of gender equality and justice themselves. They also actively participated in the forum theatre conducted by the Mirror Theatre Group -“Kya Tum Mere Saath Ho”. The forum theatre ensemble directed by Lokesh Jain represents intersecting issues of gender and sexual-based discrimination, subjugation and violence within the family; in public places and the dynamics of our intimate, social and cultural relationships.
The video van has so far been to Sarojini Nagar, Batra cinema, Vishwavidyalaya metro station, Neb Sarai and Madangir. It will go to Malviya Nagar market, CR park Market, Alaknanda market, Sangam Vihar, Badarpur, Khadar, Okhla, Rajouri Garden, Dakshin Puri and Sheikh Sarai.
The second day of the Video Van Campaign was conducted in collaboration with the Safe Delhi campaign started by Jagori – an NGO in Delhi working on building a just society entrenched in feminist values. Centre For Advocacy and Research (CFAR), Safety Pin, Jagori and Breakthrough jointly mobilised the youth through games, video van videos, forum theatre, rally and disseminated posters on data generated by Safety Pin based on a recent audit conducted by them around the area (Delhi University) and helpline booklets for women in Hindi and English.
During these events, we observed that in public places majority of the audience is constituted by men. Amongst them, there are men who agree and disagree on differing things we say and show them through our forum theatre. Lesser women are seen in public places, and we continue to call those who are present to come forward. Another significant part of audiences are children and children’s faces are the best mirror indeed. They laugh at the joke the most heartiest-ly. They laugh without guilt at the sexist jokes played out in front of them but still when the forum starts and the moderator asks, “Is there anything wrong in this scene?” they will collectively with utmost enthusiasm, and a smile point out very clearly that the boy forcing his will on the girl is doing something wrong. Further, when asked if it should continue or not, they would collectively say – No.
These children bring back the faith that somehow our practices and acts may not be wholly divorced from our conscience – that the wrong conditioning can be altered with the right conditioning. They are an enthusiastic spectator of the drama we (adults) play out in front of them and they learn from us. We are accountable to give them what they need to look up to make their world a gender equal world. If we couldn’t do that with ours, we shouldn’t take away their chances just because we choose to be complicit.