Sunday, April 11

For harmony: Calcutta-based NGOs organise a cultural programme

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Messages of peace and communal harmony reverberated at a programme to celebrate a rising together to end violence against women.

A 30-year-old woman sang John Lennon’s Imagine and the words “Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too/Imagine all the people living in peace” echoed what many in the audience felt.

“We are witnessing terrible violation of human rights. We have had a childhood where we believed such violence was only part of our history pages and it won’t be repeated. Imagine is an age-old song about peace and it is sad it is relevant today,” Debayani Sen said.

Eleven city-based NGOs working with women and children organised a cultural programme at Bishop’s College in the city on Thursday to express solidarity with the global movement of One Billion Rising, started by American playwright and activist Eve Ensler to take “activism out of the theatre and into the streets and communities across the globe”.

“Love has the power to end violence,” read the poster on the stage where girls from Rainbow Homes of Loreto Day School, Sealdah, put up a performance on communal harmony.

The audience responded with applause and some even had tears in their eyes. “It is something so simple that even teenagers understand. Why are we finding it so difficult to accept it?” a woman in the audience asked.

Many present believed that violence against women is not only when she is assaulted but also when she is discriminated against or robbed of her rights.

“In the current climate, women across the country are raising their voice against oppression. So, we are already witnessing a rising. Whenever there is any form of discrimination and violence in the world, women and marginalised people are the most affected. This campaign really is contextual and links up to the global scenario of discrimination and division on various lines,” said Amrita Dasgupta, from one of the participating NGOs.

“Through this campaign we are looking to spread love, not hate. Campaigns like these bind us together and remind us that there are more similarities than differences,” Dasgupta said.

The participating NGOs included Swayam, New Light, Parichiti, Institute of Social Work and Kolkata Sanved. among others.

Kolkata Sanved focussed on women finding a “voice” for themselves and a skit by students of Bishop’s College talked about the effect of domestic violence on children and how young boys learn to violate and girls learn to accept being violated.

A member of Kolkata Sanved said she was able to walk out of an abusive marriage after talking to girls who were in a similar situation. ‘There were many women who came to us leaving their homes and I spoke to them about not looking back. But when I went home I faced the same abuse from my husband. I tolerated it for some years but when my daughter was three, I mustered the courage to walk out myself,” the dance movement therapist said.

“Women face violence in their families, public spaces and when there is war or conflict. So, we are talking about safety of women. If the world is safe for women, it is safe for everybody. It is talking about living in peace and harmony as a human race,” said Anuradha Kapoor, director of Swayam.

 

Source: The Telegraph

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