Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Engaging the teachers of Hisar on understanding Gender based violence

“In schools, female teachers engage with girls on sex education- we do tell them about periods, sex, precautions and almost everything in details while imparting sex education to boys we share only do’s and don’ts there are no actual discussion on the issues they face during adolescence” shares one of the teachers.
Post the session on gender, the participants were divided into six groups where they were asked to share gender differences in the following spaces (one/group) - Home, Education, public spaces, media, religion and workspace in their respective groups and then share their points of discussion with the larger circle. 

“Males are more favored in joint families than women irrespective of their age”
“Male dominate decision making in homes, women are practically clueless or they have to support the male authority”
“All the outside work beyond home is men’s responsibility”
“All the financial chores are managed and controlled by men while women are not really involved”
“Male can go out anytime, anywhere with or without information, women depend on men for going out, mostly they seek permission before stepping out of home”
“Men has no tolerance to issues and lack adjustment while women have to make necessary adjustment”
“Women are held responsible for children till 12-13 years only beyond this age, men take charge of the kids”
“Men are supposed to know everything about women what do they do, where they go and others however men hardly share about themselves”
“When a boy is born, men proudly take the credit of the child saying that he is my son, also women’ position is elated by giving birth to a boy”

“In marriage, wife’s parents are less valued than husband’s parents”
“When the food is served, male members are served and then women in the house”
“There is no regret when it comes to expenditure for the men, however it is always calculated and thought upon when money is spent on girls stating that the money is saved primarily for their marriage”
“Women need to ask permission for going to party and mostly they aren’t allowed however men can go to party whenever they want to”
“Boys can eat whatever food they want to while non-vegetarian food is prohibited for girls”
“How to adjust in new situations like marriage and others, boys are never taught to do that but girls are always reminded about adjustments since their childhood”

“In schools, boys and girls are made to sit separately even if it is co-ed”
“In Nursery, to 2nd class or mainly in classes where very young students study will have female teachers”
“Mostly class teachers are females”
“Most of the paper work or administration work with-in school is done by female teachers”
“There are restricted interactions between male and female students which effects learning ability”
“There is difference in degree of punishment given based on the gender- boys are subjected to physical punishment than girls”
“Male teachers can’t hit or touch girls even if it is meant as a gesture of appreciation, it will always be seen with suspicion”

“Female teachers are seen as mother- they would care, offer affection so they touching students be it as punishment or appreciation is considered okay”
“So if there is a incidence of misconduct or indiscipline in Female teacher’s class, they are offered counseling as to how to deal with such a situation while male teachers in same situation will be warned”
“There is always a scrutiny on girls behavior – whom she is talking, sitting or what is she doing while nothing of this happens for boys”
“Interactions between boys and girls are always judged even if it means sharing of food”
“There is difference in academic expectations based on gender- girls are always expected to have good handwriting, excel with great marks”
“There is a huge difference in the uniform worn by students in the school based on gender”

“In the workplace, men are supposed to do all the physical work”
“Men are asked to do night shifts mostly”
“There is a stark difference in the salary of men and women even if they are posted on same rank with same work load”
“The shops are mostly owned by men”

“Decision making is mostly carried by men, even if women are right about a particular aspect, their opinion is not heard”
“In case of sexual harassment, women find it very difficult to report the cases because it results in questioning their work or character”
“In case of school functions, male teachers engage in physical work while women are bestowed with the cultural activities”

Public spaces-
“Mainly men are shopkeepers”
“Mostly shops has items used by women”
“Vendors are men”
“Mostly helpers and sales executives in shops/malls are women”
“Bargaining is done by women only”
“Drivers and conductors are men”
“Most of the time men sits on women’s reserved seats in public transport and it becomes quite taxing to move them”

“Men mostly offer seats to women however a woman never offers another women seat even if the other needs it more”
“Men always tries to sit next to women in buses so that they can touch them or feel them”
“A man can run, catch a bus and sit on the roof of the bus but a woman would never do that”
“For men, parks are source of entertainment; they see it as an opportunity to ogle at women”
“A man can do whatever exercise, yoga or play games however women are very self-conscious”
“Most of the chefs are men, while requesting waiter- women addresses them as bhaiya however they are addressed back as mam”
“Smoking in public is absolutely a big no for women”

“The way news are shown- it brings lot of negativity and increases fear in public- like rape cases, saints and how the cases are exaggerated however they also show positive and motivating news like girls excelling in studies, various sports”
“In movies, women are portrayed as weaker sex and always needing men to protect them, there are rare movies like Dangal, pink or parched where women get their dues”
“In television series, there is always unrealistic portrayal or women- in terms of how decorated they are, women are always pitied against each other, men are fighting for women”

“It’s weird to see magazines, where women are skimpily dressed and in the body shapes which are highly unattainable”
“Whatever the commodity be, for example men’s undergarment or perfume- women would be there- they are projected as object of desire”
“The way Nirbhaya’s rape case was handled in media was defining- because it gave motivation to girls to speak up, raise their voice and not accept the injustice done to them”

“Priests, pandits or higher authority in religion is always men”
“Most of the rituals- birth, death, and post death are done by men”
“Most of the celebrations happen when a boy is born in the family”
“While women are having periods, they are not allowed to engage in religious practices, not allowed to visit mandir”
“Fasting is always done by women- and that to for men. For example- Karwachauth”
“In Muslims- parda system, triple talaq or remarriages and many other practices are gender discriminating”

With the help of the above discussion points, concept of patriarchy, its impact on women and men was explained thereby initiating a discourse to gather participant’s beliefs and mindsets on same.

After a quick break, we played a game of “Sheep and wolf” where in participants had to put in lot of physical energy and strategy, it was interesting to see them play goat and be out of the circle of wolfs in different ways!

In the next activity, various statements were read aloud and the participants were asked if they believe that it is an incidence of “Gender based violence”

Molestation and eve teasing happens because of modernization- girls wear short clothes, do late nights/wear makeup: Many of the participants agreed to the fact that molestation or rape cases are not because of certain clothes or timings, it is because men wants to exert their authority or lust, they believe that women are weaker so they can tame them. However few participants also believe that it is contextual, if someone would wear shorts or skirts in villages, then obviously people will stare! However, to counter that people stated that men when in undergarments will never be oogled by women.

Almost everyone agreed that men not being able to cry falls under violence- because it is a human right and how even emotions are gendered.

There was a huge discourse on the favorite statement “Women should cook”- while women unanimously agreed that this expectation is weighed upon them since their childhood, they are taught but why none of the men are instructed on the same. Even when both the partners work, it falls on women to cook and do household chores. This situation remains same even when a women has to work, or is ill and many times she can’t leave the city because her husband or family can’t cook.

“We have a party post this workshop, and my house is at the other end of the city. Still I will have to go to my home just to cook food”
“When I was ill for a long time, all our household work were done by maid but I had to cook food because no one liked the food cooked by maid”

This discussion also brought out the point that the men who engages in household chores are said to be “Zoru ka gulam”- which happened to be our next statement.
“We are three brothers, so from childhood itself we were taught to do household work, be it cooking, cleaning etc. and now that I am married I still cook- and you can ask my colleagues they really love the sabzi that I get”

With the insights from the discussion, gender based violence along with various forms, statistics and gravity of the situation was explained.

Post this, we screened 3 video clips – one: Komal (a film by child line on child sexual abuse) and two clips from Bollywood movies depicting the impact of CSA on young adults. This was followed by explanation of POCSO act. The session became very intense where one of the teachers shared an experience of her relative (4 years old) being raped by her uncle. The day closed with the strong emotions and it overwhelmed the participants.

The second day was designated for capacity building of teachers on gender, however the last day’s emotions came into play so for next 2 hours, the participants shared their very personal experiences of violence. One of the teacher shared that her sister who was mentally disabled was raped by her cousin- this initiated the discussion on disability, social construction of roles, rape and marriage being used a cure.

Another participant shared a childhood experience when a lab attendant tried to touch her inappropriately in exchange of marks, she got scared and ran away. When she complained to her teacher, he scolded her instead of the culprit. This experience had left deep imprints because of which she as a teacher always sends boys to lab for bringing equipment and not girls.

One of the participants shared that a girl from poor family was married to a boy who was mentally disable- so she was practically used by the male members of the family- she doesn’t even know who is the father of her kids?

Another participant shared her landlord trying to touch her inappropriately, though her parents shifted her to another house. However recently when she saw her daughter being hugged by her recent landlord, she got scared to death and then immediately asked was she comfortable?

One after another participant kept sharing their experiences along with supporting and providing strength to each other.  

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