Safecity is celebrating the journey of people who have emerged as leaders as our campaigns progressed in their communities through our blog series “Safecity Emerging Leaders“. Read the inspiring stories of these individuals who are passionate about making their neighbourhoods safer with Safecity and have taken action in their own special ways.
Anjali used to begin her day as early as 6 am and her first thoughts would be “what should I make for breakfast?”
As she got around the chores for the day, she would only get ready in the afternoon to go and attend sessions in a nearby room rented out by an NGO, the rest of her day would pass by in ticking off things from her mental list of housework she had allotted to herself. One afternoon, as she attended a session on sexual violence in public spaces in Sanjay Camp where she lives, her eyes told us she has a story willing to be told and heard, we just had to wait for the right time for her to come forward with it.
As she participated in the various activities centered around our Sanjay Camp campaign to address sexual violence in public spaces, her confidence soared, she wanted to do more than just complain about how unsafe she felt in her neighborhood. Gradually she started sharing personal stories of what was happening there, conducted audits of the area and encouraged other girls to report. Her energy was vibrant and infectious. She is one of our most active campaign team members in Sanjay Camp and worked tirelessly in organizing the community meeting with stakeholders and painting the mural in the toilet complex of her neighborhood.
Anjali is 16. She stopped going to school because she was facing sexual harassment almost every day as she walked to the school and back. Those comments, whistles and glares bothered her, pricked her and broke her confidence bit by bit. She never felt sure of what was happening, was she being targeted, and was this even violence? She asked herself so many questions but was lost on answers. She wanted a way out and she chose to stay at home. She missed her studies and realized how important education was but when she looked at what she was facing to earn it, it scared her, and she told herself that she would rather stay at home.
As Anjali started absorbing the essence and intent of the campaign, she realized she is not alone in what she was facing, it was happening to other girls as well. She realized what she was facing was violence and there are laws that can protect her. She gained strength that she too could raise her voice against this violence and stand up to the perpetrators because there was nothing wrong in the length of her skirt or the time of the day when she was out, the problem was elsewhere.
As the campaign progressed, Anjali came out with her story and in that voice of hers; she found support and a way ahead. She is back in school today and she carries the Safecity brochure with her at all times, a reminder in its own way that she does not have to tolerate violence.