Know Our Team is a series that attempts to bring to you the stories of our team, share our experiences, why we do what we do and special moments that have left an indelible mark in each of our lives.
Riddhima Sharma is a law & political science graduate with a passion for gender justice. She is currently working with Safecity as the Communications Officer.
Know Our Team: Encouraging Conversations that bring about Change
Before joining Safecity, I was teaching for a short duration at the Research Centre for Women’s Studies at SNDT Women’s University. The subject: Gender in the Legal Terrain. We used to have long, passionate discussions on sexual harassment, especially since the Criminal Amendment Act, 2013 had greatly expanded the scope of what constituted sexual harassment. It emerged over several sessions and informal exchanges, that sexual harassment in public spaces had become “normalized” to such an extent that when we told people it was a crime, they were surprised that something so common, so every day was actually harassment.
When I first came across Safecity’s work after graduating law, it was exciting to see how it was creating safe spaces for discussions and solutions to end sexual harassment in public spaces and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to work on this issue which so many people believed was a non-issue.
My work largely consists of handling online and offline communications for Safecity, documenting our work and increasing conversations around this subject on digital platforms to encourage reporting apart from facilitating workshops and sessions with women and young adults on sexual harassment, our rights under the law and the laws tackling this issue.
Engaging with Safecity has really helped me to write better, think creatively and improve the way we use social media platforms to engage in meaningful conversations on important issues.
Most of the communications is driven by the offline work we do. Over the past 6 months, we’ve worked on several amazing projects, and each project has been a unique learning experience. Most memorable being the 16 Days of Activism where we did multiple activities ranging from an Art workshop and mural painting on sexual harassment with college going girls at Sophia College, to street plays, to a five day long project called My Access that aimed to highlight the intersection between safety and accessibility. We worked with Point of View to understand the experiences of women with disabilities in public spaces through safety sprawls of various streets in Bombay along with non-disabled student volunteers from colleges. It was amazing to see all of these women come together and share their experiences of navigating public spaces.
My personal favorite part about our work at Safecity is our community campaigns. Salini and Anu have been doing such fantastic work mobilizing and engaging people in communities to talk about sexual harassment in public spaces and working with core groups in each community to facilitate community based solutions. I’ve had the chance to work with young people in several communities along with Anu and the energy is amazing. If you’ve read any of our blogs on community workshops on understanding and mapping sexual harassment, you’ll see how awesome these youth groups are.
One such special day was our workshop with youth in Dharavi in partnership with Sneha NGO. They were some of the most self-aware, intelligent people i have ever met, mainly based on the level of the conversations we had. They are also cool kids who educated me on taking selfies, Bollywood and the best new pop songs to dance to while we worked on completing the maps of the surrounding area that we had surveyed. That was easily one of the most fun days at work.
On the other hand, one of the most challenging experiences at Safecity for me was when we were facilitating workshops on child sexual abuse with grade I and II students at St. Joseph Convent School, Bandra. Its really scary for me to interact with such small children and i had to train for a few days with Anu and Ashwini who walked me through each part of the session and how I should talk to these young girls. It was frightening at first, but i managed to finally confront my fears and for the most part had a nice experience doing these workshops.
Working at Safecity has given me the chance to explore my passion for intersectional feminism, law and ending violence against women. It’s exciting to be able to employ and add to my knowledge and skills through the many different ways in which we are engaged in creating awareness, documenting stories of sexual harassment and fostering sustainable solutions through community leadership and art based interventions.
It has been and continues to be an enriching experience for me working here and writing documenting all the amazing work we’re doing and i hope to keep learning new things and drive social change to make public spaces safer for women.