I came from a fairly sheltered life. Spending almost seven years of my life in a co-ed residential school, I wasn’t aware enough about the harsh realities of the world outside the golden gates. Sure, I read the papers every day, but I couldn’t relate much to the realities of inequality, violence, and corruption. My school was patriarchal. The population of boys enrolled in school were higher as compared to girls and there were separate rules for them. The boys weren’t punished or humiliated in front of the entire school as much as the girls were because it’s just how things were. The boys’ hostel had no gates and they could access the playground easily. However, the girls’ hostel was surrounded by barbed wires and gates, guarded like animals in a golden cage. Why? It was tradition, they said. Things have always been the same and there was no way it could be changed now. Accepting this as a norm, we stopped questioning.
But once I stepped outside the gates, I realised something. There were ongoing discourses on all the problems that society faces. Inequality, corruption, discrimination, sexual harassment, heteronormativity, injustice, violence, poverty, and the list goes on. People protested, debated, filed petitions, wrote about it, sang about it and performed on it. Some were successful and some were not, but they continued to challenge and converse about it. Where I came from, there was no questioning or challenging. Sure, I experienced some of these cases on a minor scale in school but we never engaged in a conversation regarding these topics. And here I was, watching people talk, discuss and spreading awareness through campaigns, petitions and what not.
Getting involved in the discourse enabled me to understand the importance of awareness. It is important to spread awareness because there are so many people in the world that have no knowledge about the issues in their environment and that the recurring of such harmful situations is not normal. It is wrong. Moral policing is wrong, sexual harassment is wrong, physical and emotional violence is wrong and discrimination on the basis of caste, class, religion, gender or sexuality is wrong!
Ever since my exit from high school, my outlook about the world had changed and it drove me to help others be a part of the conversation. I believe that we can only achieve our goals to eradicate social inequality by involving everyone in the conversation and bring out awareness among those that have been ignored. Not only will it empower the oppressed but it also so help us eradicate the social evils in our society collectively.