Parisar Vikas conducted Yuvati Melava on 17th April, 2014 at Vashi, Navi Mumbai. The venue was the NGO forum’s office at CIDCO community Centre, Sector 3.
During the course of our work in the slum pockets of Navi Mumbai, we have observed that young girls in the communities are unable to access community resources due to the problem of eve-teasing and sexual harassment on the streets. It is even more disturbing to note that most of the teenager girls accept eve-teasing and sexual harassment as a way of life. To create a platform for discussion on these issues, impart information regarding social and legal recourses available, and gender sensitization we designed a one day programme named Yuvati melava.
50 adolescent girls from different communities of Vashi suburb participated in the Melava. Most of these girls come from such families where their mothers are the only earning members. Though these women are concerned about their daughters, neither have they time to spend with them nor skills to discuss adolescent problems. besides the taboo to speak on issues like sex, attraction to opposite sex, eve-teasing, molestation and rape is also a big problem in having a good child-parent relationship. This programme helped to bring about a discussion on these issues on a secured and non-threatening platform.
The programme began at 2.00 pm with a poster exhibition base don the theme Eve teasing. This set the mood for the day’s topic. It also gave them an insight into the thinking process of the girls and there-by of the community. Many girls thought that often the main reason for eve teasing was girl’s attire. Most of the girls said that they felt guilty after being eve teased. They often found it difficult to communicate these matters to their parents or guardians.
Followed by the welcome speech given by Pooja & Seema, the members of Inner wheel Program( Women’s wing of Rotary club) inaugurated the programme by garlanding Savitribai Phule’s photograph.
Ms. Lambe, a member of Inner Wheel club while addressing the girls mentioned that often parents end up discriminating between male child and female child. She requested the girls not to discriminate between their children when they become mothers.
Ms. Shukla, another member of Inner wheel club , said that it was extremely important for the girls to establish proper communication channels with their parents or guardians. She said that the girls should be able to freely speak with their parents. It was important for them to be able to confide in someone when trapped in problematic situation.
Ms. Malati Dharamsen explained the difference between safe touch and unsafe touch. She said that it was imperative that the girls be able to differentiate between these touches for their own good.
Ms.Vrushali Magdum, co-ordinator Vashi branch of SMS conducted the first session on gender equality. She elucidated that gender roles are established since childhood. Through discussion she also motivated girls to think about the need to change gender roles. She explained that it is, not clothes but the mindset of the men, responsible for sexual assault/harassment. The need to establish proper communication channels with parents was also emphasized.
A film on eve teasing directed by Anurag Kashyap was screened in the latter part of programme. The them of the film is how girls from a particular locality were regularly eve teased and how they fought to combat the problem. It was a very positive film which highlighted the need for unity.
This discussion followed by the film was moderated by Ms. Pooja, the Student social worker at SMS. The girls were very engrossed in the film and participated wholeheartedly in the discussion. They drew parallels with the film and recounted their experiences about eve teasing and how they encountered the problem. The girls also agreed that they should not keep quiet and tolerate the harassment. Before the problem gets aggravated they should must learn how to face the situation bravely and take action.
A demonstration on self defense was organized by PSI Maya More to give a demonstration on self defense. Akash More and Rakesh Jadhav demonstrated how in tricky situations the girls could take care of themselves. They also demonstrated some kicks and punches which could render the molester or eve teaser senseless. The girls were very impressed by these sessions.
Sushama Bidave and Rashmi Karle took a recap and feedback of all the sessions that had taken place till then. Eve teasing, molestation, flashing, rape, sexual remarks, winking, taking pictures of girls without their consent, showing films which were of pornographic nature all constituted sexual abuse. The session ended on a positive note with many girls mentioning that they would not feel guilty and that in a tricky situation they would use self defense techniques taught to them in the programme.