Community Meet-Up on Safer Streets- Patna
Naina Jha is the Program and Outreach Officer at Patna. She has worked with hospitals, advertising and PR agencies and has been working with ICWA to educate slum kids since 2005. Recently, she conducted a 4 day workshop for children from the slums teaching them English through dance and drama, organised by Access, Patna. She has also worked as a freelancer with Gender Resource Centre, Patna. She loves working for the uplifting of slum children and gender sensitisation and wishes to make this society a better place to live in. She is a budding writer, avid learner, traveller, and a happy soul. A sociology graduate who holds a masters degree in human resources, she has a few more degrees up her sleeves but most importantly she is a mother to a beatific little angel.
Community Meet-Up on Safer Streets- Patna
To expand the work of Safecity in Patna, Bihar, a community meet up was organised on 20th May, 2017 at PnM Food Court at 5 pm. The meet up was to discuss ‘Safer Streets’. It was a casual meet up to discuss about street harassment, how to deal with it, role of bystanders and how change can be brought.
12 people turned up for the meet within the age group of 17-35. The participants were students, journalists and those from the corporate sector. They started with formal introduction about themselves and then Naina told them about Safecity, its work and achievements. She, then, asked everyone to explain what exactly they understood by the word ‘street harassment’. People came up with different answers but the best was from a guy Vaibhav who said that invading somebody’s personal space or any interaction without his or her permission is harassment.
Many of them admitted that knowingly or unknowingly they had done things which are forms of street harassment, be it passing comments, a little stalking or staring and smiling. They said that they did this just for fun without intending to hurt anyone. However they realised that since they have women at their home as well, they now knew what exactly girls and women go through when they are commented on or stalked. While there were few who had never harassed others, knowingly or unknowingly, they did admit that they had never raised their voice to intervene when somebody else was being harassed on the streets. One guy shared an incident which actually changed his outlook about harassment with the rest of the group. He used to work a night shift in Delhi and return home by the early morning metro. One day whilst travelling, there were 4-5 girls in his compartment and they were passed comments about him which made him very uncomfortable and he then realised the ordeal girls go through every day.
While talking about Bystander Intervention in stopping harassment, people were of the view that until and unless the victim doesn’t stand up for him/herself, no one can help him/her except in few cases like Nirbhaya where bystanders could have taken her to the hospital sooner and she might have survived. A few of them shared about how a victim of harassment did not stand up for him/herself though they intervened.
While the discussion went on, people suggested that Safecity could conduct workshops creating awareness about harassment for parents because many a times children don’t talk about such issues with their parents out of fear of being scolded or blamed for everything. In many cases girls are prohibited from going out to avoid such incidents. Many a times girls don’t share their experiences because of a lack of communication with their parents. Some of the participants suggested that there should be workshops creating awareness about the laws against street harassment.
Aditya Vaibhav said, “Sensitization of parents regarding the importance of effective two-way-communication between the parents and their kids on the grassroots level is necessary.“
Akash said, “This is a good start and we should continue with such meet ups and other such activities.”
Faisal Ali Khan said, “Girls and boys should share their issue with their parents without hesitation.“
Mayank Ojha said, “A good start. But we need to talk about harassment as a whole, not just for women. Since men, transgenders and other genders are also harassed. So let’s talk about street harassment as a whole. Let’s not categorise it. Also we should start conducting awareness workshops for parents and students.“