Rahat Sharma is a final year Law student who is an ardent believer that every dark cloud has a silver lining. Through her words, she continues to pursue the same and is determined to bring about the change awaited.
UNAOC challenges silence with Safecity- One Billion Rising
The Action oriented Safecity Team of Campus Ambassadors were all set to start Valentine’s Day in a not-so conventional manner. They were all out to spread and share the love with the visiting Delegates from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in order to familiarise them with mission of Safecity.
The event was kick-started with a rather quirky suggestion by the Team, asking all present there to refrain from applauding and rather snap their fingers as a sign of appreciation during the event. The aim behind this thought was that applause signified the end to something while the finger-snapping would signify continuity like the Team’s journey on furthering their mission.
To begin, a brief introduction was given about Safecity’s aim of making the city a safer place by encouraging access to public spaces by men and women equally. This was followed by asking everyone to give their definitions of ‘safety’. Varied responses by them, for instance, safety being home for one or being inner peace for another or even being able to sit in a park in the dark for someone depicted how simple it is to feel safe for many but at the same time how difficult it is to achieve it.
Subsequently, a video by Safecity was shown, primarily showcasing the struggles of sexual assault, harassment and violence faced by many around the globe. It also showed famous personalities such as the American singers Kesha and Lady Gaga who were sexually assaulted, depicting that these life scarring incidents take place with anybody anywhere. However, rather than giving in to such incidents, one must act upon them by fighting against them.
There are two ways to spread awareness about any issue, firstly by simply addressing the issue in front of an audience or secondly, doing it the Safecity way. The Team had segmented the entire event to convey their message through fun-filled games & activities. Each of these activities led to signify the importance of addressing the issue of sexual violence and harassment in their own unique way.
Sexual Violence and Harassment still seems to be a subject not spoken about openly and this is exactly what the Team desired to target. Their objective was to bring about a transformation in this type of a thought process.
The first activity was wherein everyone was asked to pen down a stereotypical notion prevalent in the society on their respective balloons. The same were kept aside for a while. Following this, everyone formed a circle wherein one leader standing in the centre of the circle would make statements such as “I welcome all those who like chocolates to step forward inside the circle.” or “I welcome all those people who like snow inside the circle”. Everyone seemed to join in. However, the turn of events took place when from declaring general statements; we were now onto some serious affirmations. These included statements addressing the issue at hand, for instance, “I welcome all those who have been harassed” or “I welcome all those who have either objected while someone was being harassed or remained quiet in such a situation” or even “I welcome all those who have been in an abusive and violent relationship.” Regardless, everyone still participated and spoke candidly. This activity implied the ease with which a social issue had been brought up and how uncomplicated and important it is to talk freely about these sensitive issues.
Post this activity, everyone present was divided into 3 groups to conduct an informal discussion relating to the stereotypical notions on their respective topics namely: Harassment, Beauty Standards around the World and Polyamory. The idea behind this was to furthermore remove the uneasiness caused by talking publicly about such issues.
Sexual Harassment and Assault have always been a major cause of concern but there still exists a hush-hush attitude towards the same. On the other hand, it’s time we understand its presence at a global level. We are often told what it is but not instructed on how to combat the issue. Safecity tells us exactly how. It encourages one to report the cases and take charge in order to make this society a better place. It explains as to how the victims must not feel ashamed. What we all must learn is that being attentive and spreading the importance of reporting the same is the first step. Our so-called “modern society” which still hesitates to talk about sexual offences cannot win the battle unless we let go of our inhibitions and face such issues boldly.
A symbolic activity concluded the event in which everyone was asked to break the silence by bursting their respective balloons with the stereotypical notions written on them. With the determination to bring about the change needed and help those who have been scarred not just physically but also mentally, the Team and the Delegates set out on their journey with the following motto:
“The time to have this conversation is NOW. The time to break the silence is NOW.”