Meet Our People
Thirteen year old Husna Hena shares the dream of a better tomorrow with her classmates from the student forum at Police Line School in Chittagong. She attended the first campaign meeting after her teacher mentioned it to the class.
Twenty-two-year-old Sheikh Masoom of Jummapara village in Gaibanda works in a chicken farm and is an enthusiastic Change Maker of the campaign. He says, “When I talk of domestic violence, people in my village question my credentials. ‘What do you know of such issues?’ ‘Who gives you the authority to speak on such issues?’ they ask. My own brother is upset with me. ‘Why are you drawing attention to our family with your activities,” he asks. But I think I have something to say and I will be heard.
Fifty four-year-old Jessy Ariaratnam of Mannur Women Development Federation in Mannur, Sri Lanka, says, “Women and men have organised to expose and counter violence against women under ‘We Can’. They have brought the violations out of the shadows and into the spotlight. This initiative may not put a complete halt to violence against women. But it will enable women to stand up and speak out. We need more voices to support the urgent struggle to stop violence against women as acts of violence against women also feed on and reinforce other forms of discrimination.”
Thirty five-year-old Srichitra Kadirawen, a teacher in Batticaloa district in Sri Lanka, has been involved with ‘We Can’ for over two years. “I grew up in a society where social roles in society were clearly defined with the sense of a ‘good girl’ deeply ingrained. A ‘good girl’ was supposed to remain indoors, walk with eyes downcast, keep to strict routines, do most of the housework and obey the rules laid down. But a quiet revolution is taking place. Women are beginning to ask for equal rights and equal space in the social sphere.
Five students pursuing their Bachelors in Education in Barmer, Rajasthan, speak on ‘We Can’ has transformed cultural conversations.
“Justice from panchayats and nyay panchayats has always eluded women,” says Laxmi Ben of Sabarkantha, Gujarat.
A student in Dailekh, a mid- western region of Nepal, Bimal Prasad Koirala, says, “As a Change Maker, I am making attempts to effect a change in attitudes personally. I have realised that for societal change to become a reality, change must begin with individuals and from within oneself. When I attend public functions and see boys harassing girls, I try and talk them out of such behaviour. Sometimes they listen, other times they don’t. I also get targeted for ridicule, as being too ‘girlish’ but I am not put out. I intend to keep trying.”
Eighteen year-old Kritisha G C of Sindhupal Chowk, Sadi, Nepal, says, “Sexual assault and relationship violence are pervasive problems in our communities. The victims of these crimes (who are overwhelmingly women) suffer psychological, physical, and sexual violations, or a combination. We speak to women who have suffered abuse and offer counseling. We use dramatised versions of real life stories in our plays to show people how much damage violence against women can cause.”
Muhammad Jan Odhano says, “I am happy to be part of ‘We Can’ as it has given me an opportunity to save five innocent girls and provide them with a safe environment. The credit goes to ‘We Can’ Change Makers and allies who showed solidarity and took a stand to end violence against women.”
“Violence against women, and in particular honour ‘killings’, is not specific to the Sindh province. Women suffer uniformly across the four provinces of Pakistan. Inadequate government policies and tribal and feudal structures have aggravated the crisis. The situation can be remedied through sustained awareness-raising initiatives”, Ahmed says.