“This night is ours. So empowering to be out in the night, to be able to walk without fear, and breathe without looking behind my back every two seconds!” –Participant in ‘Take Back the Night’, Delhi.
One Billion Rising has stepped it up this year. More than 114 organizations ROSE in 24 states of India! The non-believers have turned followers and the people previously untouched by the Rise have become Revolutionaries. India plunged true and deep into the theme of “Revolution for Love, Peace and Equality” and stirred things up from urban cities to the grassroots. With the movement engaging more than 2,04,684 people as reported, there is a plethora of events that have not even been reported yet. This figure also does not count the lots and lots of individuals and groups touched by the media coverage of these events – print, electronic and online.
The online world has furthered the non-violent cause of OBR massively by creating platforms where people can use art to protest for anti-homosexuality laws, or by simply publishing OBR India Newsletters on their websites through which anyone can access the brilliant Risings across the length of India with just a mouse click. By adding the
OBR hash tag in their posts, by creating online campaigns especially for the Rise, or by sending mailers to a database of 5000… the Revolution is spreading far and wide. Some of the major contributions of OBR besides spreading awareness about human rights have been:
Taking in Wide Variety of Causes- OBR India had people fighting for tribal community rights, celebrating inter-faith love and inter-caste marriages, learning about holistic health, women reclaiming the forbidden public spaces, dalit women from many states uniting, muslim women unveiling their demands, liberating events for sex workers, trafficking and violence survivors, specially abled people, girls and boys, schools and colleges in hundreds, multiple gender identities walking with pride, redefining folk poems to make them gender-sensitive, and people breaking shackles and dancing and singing with sheer joy.
Opening up a dialogue – Numerous discussions with groups, panels and in conferences were held with leaders in developmental work, with commoners, youngsters, rural to urban India, and people from all walks of life. People opened up about the gender-based discriminations they see every day, they strategized on how to provide accessible solutions for all, and gained perspectives that would otherwise be kept bottled in. They talked about menstruation, sexuality, masculinity, the LGBTQ movement, women rights, child rights, inter-religion differences, bravely asked questions, expressed curiosity about matters that they have been prohibited to even think about and gladly took home the revolutionary message of OBR.
Women spoke up! – Women from rural backgrounds who never thought their voice could mean anything or change even a thread of their pattern of existence SPOKE up, took initiatives, performed plays and danced with joy and freedom! They learnt about their rights and applied their knowledge in their daily lives.
Willful participation of men – Patriarchy took a hit this time as OBR saw men and boys finally speak up on how they perceive the violence-ridden atmosphere around them, how they get deeply affected by it and what they can do to be a ‘real man’ in the real sense. Men passionately demanded feminism and a peaceful society. International Men Engage conference in Delhi included various OBR events led by Kamla Bhasin.
Reaching out to grassroots – Where the real India resides in villages- OBR found strong footholds there, fought against skepticism, and compelled people from villages to take part in events that talked about sanitation, education, rural women’s issues, their experiences of denial, sexual exploitation and their claims to justice and freedom.
Young Revolutionaries – From very young girls and boys in primary schools walking the streets of villages, to college students all over the country dancing, performing flash mobs and plays, drumming away on streets- It has been such a public display of demands and desires of the young generation to break away from subordination and lend their voice to this global movement for peace and justice.
Children Rising! – Violence affects children the most and this time, OBR had thousands of children demanding their right to live in peaceful and loving families and a non-violent world.
Special contribution- The state authorities responded with a good amount of commitment and time to the cause. IPS officers, retired civil authorities, officials from Rural Development officers, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Block Development Officer, Sub-Divisional Officer (IPH), Public Work Department Officers, Agriculture Development Officers, Superintendent of Police, Speaker of Legislative Assembly, District program officers, Village Panchayat Chiefs, Chief Medical Officer, etc. all crossed the bureaucratic boundaries of their offices to hear the people listen, resolve grievances, promise support and speak in solidarity with the cause of One Billion Rising Revolution.
With this fervor on 14 February that has taken people by storm, the International Women’s Day has somehow receded for many into the background.
Besides this hiccup, One Billion Rising has taken on a whole new identity this time with the youth, boys and men advocating the values of equality and peace with a unified and tremendous stand. We are sure that the sparks of these Risings will keep burning inside us softly and ignite the OBR movement of 2016 with a new-found passion.