Men Say NO to Violence Against Women

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

November 25 is a day to speak up and shout out against the worldwide phenomenon of gender-based violence. To mark this, and the beginning of 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Violence 2011,  Must Bol kicked off the much awaited “Men Say No” Blogathon today! The online event helps to collect ideas, thoughts & experiences on the importance of men’s role and the urgency of the issue. ‘Men Say No’ will allow bloggers and readers to really dive into the many facets of violence against women, men’s reaction to it, and everything in between. It’s a fantastic idea and should be an interesting read. Looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with!

You can read the first few entries over at the ‘Men Say No’ blogathon. Some of the CSR team and I will be contributing to the blogathon too! Everyone is invited to submit entries for the Blogathon between 25th December & 10th December 2011. Those who write a related blog post during the 16 Days of Activism can link it up to the ‘Men Say No’ Blogathon page. If you’d like to get involved, visit http://www.mustbol.in/blogathon or contact kuber.sharma@commutiny.in.

6 October 2011: Delhi Belly

Centre for Social Research, India
06.10.2011
Report nos. 9 & 10


Summary

Apologies for the lack of reporting over the past few weeks, short-term karma really seems to be getting the better of me! Despite bragging about not falling victim to Delhi Belly for the first three months of my time in India it eventually caught up with me. I’ve been feeling pretty tired and sluggish for the good part of four weeks now but am definitely on the mend. I am still internet-less and looking at a laptop with a huge crack that has now splintered off across my entire screen. Work continues to be pretty intense, with new and unexpected tasks flying at M&C from all directions. It takes a bit more than that to get me down however. The sun is still shining here in Delhi and, overall, life is peachy. Looking forward to the next chapter of my Indian adventure.

Work Overview

September in a nutshell:  The week my Mum left was a sobering one for this city. On the morning of Wednesday 7th September there was a bomb blast outside of Delhi High Court, killing 12 and injuring 76. A powerful earthquake later that evening  then left everyone feeling pretty unnerved. It took a few days for the tension in the city to ease off, but it’s amazing how the atmosphere of a place after a disaster does eventually return to some form of normality, given time.

Highlights at work include a trip to the Swedish Embassy for a chat with the First Secretary. And, no, I didn’t see any Ikea furniture in there (disappointingly). Another highlight was welcoming the EU Human Rights Working Group to the office, where we had a really interesting discussion on various issues such as female foeticide and women in politics, and some tasty South Indian food for lunch. The group is made up of young diplomats from across Europe based in Delhi and it was nice to get to know them all.

The latest Gender Matters blog articles include Hopes and Dreams in Delhi: A Field ReportCSR Study Reveals Disturbing Trends in Delhi Rape Cases,  A Man in a Women’s World, and A Letter from the Director.

Creating CSR’s mailing list database felt like a never-ending task but, thankfully, the newsletter should have reached almost 2000 letterboxes and inboxes by now! You can read the Newsletter in full here.

Plans for the Coming Week

M&C is working on a big fundraising proposal that’s due next week. I’ve been doing research on sex-selective abortions in Delhi for that. We’re also working on a presentation for a couple of EU delegates who would like to learn more about the same issue of pre-natal sex selection in India.

Other

GTI have a new project in the pipelines called “Shuruaat”. It’s a new ‘activity-based learning’ service for children at our four Crisis Intervention Centres (CICs) across Delhi. Volunteers will be spending time with kids hungry for attention and affection, which is unfortunately missing from their lives. They’ll be doing artwork, dancing, singing, teaching spoken English, environmental awareness & active citizenship, and playing games with them in a safe space within their communities. We’re raising money for the rehabilitation of domestic violence victims at our CICs on Saturday at the office through an art workshop held by talented Madhubani artist, Ranjana Jha. So I’ll be participating in that and taking some photos! I’m also hoping to volunteer for Shuruaat soon.

FOR THOSE OF YOU READING THIS IN DELHI: IF YOU FANCY BECOMING A SHURUAAT VOLUNTEER THEN PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO SAHIBA@CSRINDIA.ORG. WE’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!

5 August 2011: Taj Mahal

Centre for Social Research, India
05.09.2011
Report no.8

Summary

Last week was one of my favourite weeks in India yet. I had an important guest visiting – my mum! She very bravely made the trip over here by herself, arriving on Monday and spending a fun-filled week with me in the madness that is Delhi. At work, most of my time was spent on the latest CSR newsletter.

Work Overview

CIC Visit:  On Tuesday a crowd of us went to Chattarpur CIC in South Delhi. The women and girls gathered for a monthly meeting at which CSR counsellors explained some basic human rights and held a Q&A session. We then ran an art workshop. We asked the women to paint/draw their hopes and dreams for the future. Food and drinks were passed around, and the girls painted beautiful henna patterns on our hands and feet. It was such a special day and one I don’t think I’ll ever forget. All of these women have been through unthinkable traumas in their past, many are still suffering in the present. On Tuesday, however, in that little shaded corner of Chattarpur, after finishing their jobs and household chores, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of Delhi life and the hardships they face every day, they were all sitting there smiling and singing – so supportive of each other, and so welcoming of us into their community.

You can find the latest CSR blog entry here: Fear in the City: Ensuring, Not Restricting Women’s Freedom.

Other

My mum and I took the train to Agra at the weekend to see the Taj Mahal. It really is beautiful.

14 August 2011: Bollywood

Centre for Social Research, India
14.08.2011
Report no.5

Summary

I said a lot of goodbyes last week, and realised that even though I’m still answering “How long are you in Delhi for?” with “6 months” –  I only really have 4 months left here now. I spent most of my week with other people – friends from work, friends from Scotland, friends from Delhi and made some new friends too. By Saturday I was ready for some peace and quiet and sat down to write letters home, read my book and get stuck into work that I’d been avoiding during the week.

 

Work Overview

I spent most of my time working on research and social media last week. The latest blog entry went live today: Broken Promises: The Dark Side of NRI Marriages.

I was introduced to ShadowLine Films on Friday and will hopefully be collaborating with them soon. Really excited about this – my love affair with China and previous work experience with a human rights film festival mean it’s right up my street. The film trailer for ‘It’s a Girl’ (which you’ll find on their website) looks fantastic. CSR helped them when they came to India to shoot the film, and some CSR staff are featured. Will be great to see if we can come up with a  project together.

Plans for the Coming Week

This week I’m working on the presentation on ‘prevention and control strategies for crimes against women in public’. It’s my main priority at the moment.

M&C has also started the ball rolling on the CSR Newsletter. My supervisor gets back to Delhi on Wednesday so I’m sure we’ll be busy with this next week.

I’m also starting work on a new series for the blog about the work that CSR interns do this week.

Other

I went out for dinner at a wonderful restaurant in a place called the ‘Garden of Five Senses’ on Thursday night after haggling for some lanterns and flip flops in a slightly chaotic but charming market – Janpath – in South Delhi. It was a friend Shruti’s last meal before she headed home to Bangalore, and my friends Michael, Michael & Maria’s last meal before they headed back to Glasgow. The restaurant is situated in a huge green garden decorated with strings of white lights, and swinging chairs are suspended from the roof to eat your meal on. On Friday we carried lots of cushions, rugs and colourful lanterns up to our rooftop and threw a leaving party under the stars for one of the CSR interns.

I watched one of the country’s best-loved Bollywood films on Saturday called Diwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Before I came to India I shamefully hadn’t ever seen a Bollywood film… which is ironic because out of everything I’ve done here I seem to enjoy watching Indian cinema the most. This one is apparently “the” film to watch – it’s a classic Indian love story where the lead girl is destined for an arranged marriage but falls in love with someone else before her engagement. There was a lot of singing, dancing and gender stereotyping throughout.

I’d honestly been wondering what all the hype was about, but by the end of it I fully understood. Living here, you can instantly understand why Indian cinema is such an unstoppable force – it plays to the hopes and dreams of young people and gives others the drama and action they crave. More than anything, I feel that getting lost in the glitzy world of Bollywood – where the boy always gets the girl, justice is always spectacularly served against the corrupt villain, and characters break from traditional ties to do the most unthinkable acts of bravery and rebellion – is an escape for 2 or 3 hours from some of the real difficulties and problems people face in this country. Maybe that could be said for all forms of entertainment, but there’s certainly something about the mix of humour, music, colour and overall satisfaction of South Asian cinema which provides more of a release than any other film or performance I can think of. Perhaps it’s down to the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously.  I like that.

8 August 2011: Elephants in Jaipur

Centre for Social Research, India
08.08.2011
Report no.4

Summary

Last week I spent less time at the office because of CSR human rights workshops going on at the local University, a fun CSR team building day, relentless stormy weather and my first trip outside of the city. As I watched the sleepy slums, skyscrapers, lush green countryside and workers tending their crops whizz by from inside the train to Jaipur on Saturday morning it struck me that I had finally fallen for Delhi.

Work Overview

After posting the second part of the blog series on the Delhi SlutWalk online, I was handed a new mini-research task on ‘strategies for the prevention of crime against women’ which I’ll be focusing on over the next couple of weeks.

On Tuesday I went along to Jawaharlal Nehru Uni to listen to a speaker at the CSR Human Rights Defenders training workshop. The presentation was in Hindi, so I didn’t understand – but could tell that Dr. Kumar was very passionate about human rights from his body language, facial expressions and tone of voice! It’s amazing how much of what someone is saying you can make sense of regardless of a language barrier. 

On Wednesday CSR held a team building day for the whole office. It was a really nice way to get to know everyone better. We all took part in interactive exercises (e.g. each drawing an image that represents how we feel about our position in the org), and problem solving, where we were split into teams, plus there was a lot of dancing and food! 

Key Issues

We have a chipmunk living in our bathroom… Other than that, no issues!

Plans for the Coming Week

This week I’m working on new content for the CSR website, as well as my usual social media tasks. I’ll also be preparing a presentation on prevention measures for crimes against women with one of the other interns.

Other

I have three friends from Scotland visiting, and an Indian friend from Bangalore is leaving Delhi at the weekend so we’re all going out for a meal tomorrow night to say goodbyes. On Friday we’re hosting a party on our roof terrace for all the young CSR staff and their friends so tonight I’m going shopping for lanterns and fairy lights for that!

Travel

My first trip outside of the city was fantastic – Jaipur is an incredible place. Touristy, but also warm, welcoming and very pretty. I saw my very first elephant on Sunday… which is something I’ve been waiting to see since I was a little girl. Natalie and I were sitting in the back of a rickshaw passing the Water Palace in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake, on our way to Amer, when a huge elephant came trundling down the road towards us. Followed by 6 more!! Quite a few of the photos in this report are from my travels to the Amber Fort in Amer, not far from Jaipur city. It’s a truly breathtaking fortress – I loved the mixture of Hindu and Mughal design and the thought that thousands of years ago Rajput Maharajas and their families would have been living and entertaining guests in the spaces I was walking through.

1 August 2011: SlutWalk Delhi

Centre for Social Research, India
01.08.2011
Report no.3

Summary

My third week here in India was pretty busy! I’m the only native English speaker in the office because my manager is on holiday… which means I’ve been doing a lot of research/writing for all departments. Really enjoying the experience and fast pace of work. It’s pushing me to learn quickly from little hiccups and mistakes every day.

Relations with Partner Organisation

Everything is going well. CSR is already starting to feel like a family to me – it’s a close-knit organisation and there’s no sense of hierarchy. We all tend to muck in with everything that’s going on which creates a really positive atmosphere in the office. Anytime someone works on their own project they present their findings to the rest of the CSR Team on completion. Everybody in the office drops what they are doing to attend these meetings and there is always a lot of interaction (questions, discussions, debate, dancing and singing etc.) because the team are passionate about the issues that CSR deals with.

Work Overview

Last week’s key projects:

Last week Prerna and I put together a blog post about the SlutWalk movement. It was a really interesting little project and I wrote a follow up post yesterday (An Ambitious March With Little Reach, CSR India, 2011).

The CSR Gender Training Institute (GTI) are holding a two-day Human Rights Defenders Training Workshop this week,  so we have all been busy promoting that.

I learned a lot about women in Indian politics in preparation for Director Ranjana’s presentation on the women’s rights in Parliament on Thursday evening. She was one of the keynote speakers addressing the controversial Women’s Reservation Bill at the opening of the Monsoon Session of Parliament. 

Other 

I really did work non-stop Monday-Friday last week, although one evening my flatmate and I opted for a change of scenery in a nice little cafe where we ate some really good chocolate cake and sat and researched the Women’s Reservation Bill on our laptops! Natalie is in India to research political speeches.

On Saturday I met some Indian friends for dinner and went to see “The Tree of Life” at the cinema in the evening. (Wouldn’t recommend it!) On Sunday Natalie and I went to check out the SlutWalk Besharmi Morcha in Jantar Mantar – Delhi’s equivalent to Speaker’s Corner. We also ate delicious seafood in the YWCA restaurant nearby, then took a rickshaw to Hauz Khas Village for a bit of shopping (where I picked up a bargain gramophone) before heading home.

25 July 2011: CSR India

Centre for Social Research, India
25.07.2011
Report no.1

Summary

I spent my first couple of weeks in the CSR office finding my feet. I have a very detailed work plan, with lots of interesting tasks to sink my teeth into. Other members of staff were quick to come forward and ask me to get involved in other projects too, from editing their work to attending training workshops for the police, campaigns on the streets of Delhi and meetings with the UNDP or local NGOs.

My very first day was a little daunting. I was asked to write a piece for the organisation’s blog about women managers in India with little background knowledge of the people, the culture, the country, the statistics or the work that has been done here at CSR over the past 30 years. It didn’t take me long, however, to realise that the people who work here are both understanding and open-minded. They’ve bravely entrusted me with CSR social media and website content. That makes me want to do a really good job and I’d love to see some positive results from projects I’m working on over the next 5-6 months – not just for me personally, but for CSR as a whole too.

Relations with Partner Organisation

Everything has gone smoothly so far. I feel very welcome in the office and get on with all of the staff. We all sit round a big table and eat lunch together every day at 1.30pm; managers, admin staff and interns included  – a welcome cultural difference. It’s a given that you’ll share your lunch with everyone so I now bring, or order, slightly bigger portions so that my colleagues can help themselves!

Work Overview

It’s probably easiest to divide the projects I’m working on into two categories: short-term and long-term.

Short Term – These are tasks that I will be carrying out on a weekly basis. I am currently managing social media at CSR and so each day I update the Facebook page and Twitter account with either a link to an interesting article or report on women in India, a set of CSR photographs, a press release or newsletter, or a link to our blog. I update the blog 2-3 times per week. On Tuesdays / Wednesdays this will be a piece that I’ve written on a research topic of my choice. On Fridays I update the blog with a media roundup of the top 10 stories on women in India from that week. I am writing and editing the majority of blog entries, but am also hoping some of the Indian staff will come up with ideas, opinions and suggestions or posts (if they have the time) for the blog too. This is important because ideally all social media activity at CSR will continue after I leave in December. Social media is not only good publicity for a human rights organisation like CSR, but can also help secure much needed sponsorship and fundraising. Last week I helped write a piece for an international magazine on rape and sexual assault and documented the Right to Education campaign we are running in collaboration with another NGO in Delhi at one of CSR’s four Crisis Intervention Centres.

Long Term – Under the social media umbrella I’ll be working on a few different things such as creating a new Youtube channel for CSR, transferring all videos over from the old one and cataloguing the CSR photo library and uploading all of their photos into new sets and collections on Flickr.

The Media & Communications department is also planning to streamline and update the CSR website. I have a list of different topics to write about which we will use for new content, e.g. rape, human trafficking and pre-natal sex selection. We’re also responsible for the CSR Annual Report and quarterly newsletter, so that’s another thing that I’ll be working on over the next 5 months.

Other

Do send me your news if you get the chance so I can hear all that you’ve been up to.

in Edinburgh, Scotland

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