Safecity is participating in the 16 Days of Activism Campaign taking place from 25th November to 10th December, 2015 by facilitating various activities aimed at raising awareness about sexual violence in general and sexual violence in public spaces in particular. This workshop was conducted as a part of the ‘Safecity: 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence’ Campaign.
On December 7 2015, Safecity conducted a workshop on Gender and Sexual Violence with MAVIM in Dharavi. 23 women of the community attended this 2 hour session.
The workshop began with a round of introductions, with each person also stating something they enjoy doing outside. After that we got into a discussion on what is the concept of gender with an exercise where the group had to state things that came to their mind when they thought of a man, and what came to mind when they thought of a woman.
From this association exercise, the points that emerged were: Men were associated with breadwinners, heirs whereas women were seen as homely and motherly. Men were also seen as rude, egotistical and women were supportive and can tolerate suffering.
We began to challenge these ideas one by one through a vibrant discussion on socialisation and cultural norms, such as how we have been taught gendered practices and how society punishes any transgressions. We also discussed the way multiple power structures work, such as religion, caste, class, etc with gender to oppress or privilege certain groups, and how limited power can also cause divisions amongst oppressed groups.
We did this through a game called “object- subject” where one person is an object without any decision making power and the other is the subject with agency. Here we also discussed the myth of a woman being a woman’s worst enemy by looking at the stereotypical “saas-bahu” (mother in law and daughter in law) relationship.
A connection was then drawn between gender construction and violence. We discussed about the various forms of gender based violence, especially sexual violence in the public sphere. Issues of victim blaming, lack of mobility and control of bodies we spoken about. We shared stories of incidences in our lives and around us which made us feel unsafe and fearful of our surroundings.
We also talked about our work at Safecity with the group and spoke about how crowd-sourced information can be used to create change and make spaces safer. Many mentioned that they didn’t approach the police due out of a fear of local goons. We discussed possible interventions, including holding a gender workshop with young boys of the community.
It was fantastic meeting these women, who took the time to participate and shared their stories with us.