One Billion Rising demand freedom from violence

Millions of people from 200 countries will participate in a campaign on Feb 14

jasleen

Jasleen Kaur | February 14, 2013



Rekha Mehra, from Sagarpur in Delhi, was all of 18 when she got married. She was in her first year of graduation then. She says her in laws assured her that she could continue her studies after marriage. But post marriage she was not only asked to discontinue studies, she was also abused and physically tortured for not bringing enough dowry. There was only more torture in store when she gave birth to a girl child. Now after seven years of her marriage, she is still struggling to get her right to live with dignity.

Rekha, from a JJ cluster colony in Tigri in Delhi, lived with her husband for just a few months. She too faced the physical abuse from her in-laws for various reasons. During her first pregnancy she was forced to get the sex determination test done. When she refused, she was tortured. Luckily, she gave birth to a male child. But when she conceived for the second time, it was found to be a girl child. Her husband and in-laws forced her to abort the child. She went through a lot of physical torture to save the child in her womb. But for this she had to leave her in law's house. She came and stay with her mother, who became her support during her struggle. Today she is raising her daughter as a single parent. Despite all the pressure they put on her, including taking away her son forcibly and not taking care of her daughter at all, she fought her battle.

Thousands of women in our country, from all strata, are abused and physically tortured for various reasons. But there are very few like these women who show the courage to fight against it and live life on their own terms.

They are now part of One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign to stop violence against women and to promote rights to equality and freedom.

Kamla Bhasin, South Asia coordinator of the campaign, while briefing the media on Wednesday said women in our society were yet to receive independence. "While India got independence many years ago, women are still struggling to get independence from patriarchal society, patriarchal thinking and patriarchal religious traditions. OBR is a new freedom struggle from violence and aggressive masculinity," she said.

Sunita, a social worker from a J J cluster of Madanpur Khadar in Delhi, says most women living in such colonies face violence in their daily lives. "Violence is huge but we tend to ignore it. People expressed anger against the Delhi gangrape but such incidents are very common in our colonies. Some girls, as young as six years old, face such violence."She said they want to fight for the right to move around with freedom even at night."

This Valentine's Day millions of people across the world will be part of a global campaign 'One Billion Rising' to fight crimes against women. Many celebrities too have joined this campaign and leading the charge is Anoushka Shankar who posted her personal story of abuse.

Legendary sitar maestro Ravi Shankar's daughter shared her story about being sexually abused as a child. She says it’s her effort to encourage billions of women and men across the world to stand up against sexual violence as part of the 'One Billion Rising', an online campaign spearheaded by change.org. On Valentines's Day the campaign is encouraging people all over the world to strike, dance and rise against sexual violence.

In India, programmes are being conducted in many states apart from the national capital. The campaign will include a cultural event, dance on wheel chairs by women with special needs at Delhi metro stations, in Delhi. Many NGOs, social activists and students from various colleges of Delhi university will participate in the day long event.

The OBR movement was started by American playwright Eve Ensler to mark the 15th year of V-Day campaign to end violence against women.

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