KBC Sensitised Me to Violence Against Women
Mohit, who is pursuing his Master’s degree in Psychology at Christ College, Bangalore, did an internship at PRIA Jaipur office. In this blog post, he reflects on how KBC as a programme is an effective way to sensitise youth to the issue of Violence Against Women, not just in communities but in personal spaces as well.
I came to PRIA (Participatory Research in Asia) with certain expectations and preconceptions. I had interned with a few organizations before, but had felt the looming organizational structure muffled any opinion I had tried to voice. I was heard but never heeded. The thing that struck me as delightfully unusual at PRIA was that I was given the opportunity to speak my mind in spite of the fact that I had limited theoretical knowledge and field exposure pertaining to the work being done under Kadam Badhate Chalo (KBC), PRIA’s program addressing violence against women (VAW). I was offered a platform to participate and get involved, which is what I did for the better part of a month.
Before I stepped into the field, I read documentation on the discussions that community members had engaged in on the topic of VAW. These were summaries of focus group discussions from the previous year and gave me a vague idea of the thoughts running through people’s minds concerning VAW. Once I was out there, however, I realized that hearing the same words made me feel very uncomfortable. It took considerable restraint on my part not to grab people by their shoulder and shake them into understanding how their mechanical thoughts and behaviour was promoting VAW. Time and discourse, with community folk and colleagues, facilitated the understanding that a lot of the people I was interacting with were circumstantially challenged. They had not critically analysed and questioned their thinking patterns and had, over time, introjected the mal-traditions that perpetuated VAW.
Another thing that really jarred me was some people’s indifference to VAW and others’ opinion of organizations that speak on such issues. I could intellectually grasp the idea that someone who was struggling to feed a family and keep a roof over their heads would not entertain what he or she believes is an abstract concept. This understanding was however hard to translate into behaviour in the field.
A lot of the uneasiness I felt concerning the work was put to rest during the workshop I attended on community organization. Over four days of intensive training and debate, I managed to hold on to enough to keep the sinking feeling at bay and keep me afloat. One of the most important lessons for me, which I feel I can translate to my work in the field of psychology, was that I cannot help everyone. Particularly those that refuse my help or are apathetic towards the same. It is impossible not to be moved by the stories you hear in the field and the urge to help, to eliminate the problem, is overpowering. Working with KBC helped me understand that the problem does not exist in isolation – it is the result of a curious interplay between many social, economic and political factors and that the best we can and should do is act as facilitators or mediators.
Through my internship with KBC, I feel sensitized to VAW – not just incidences that occur in the community but also instances at home and in my personal life that I have contributed to. It made me appreciate the breadth of the issue and understand how rampant VAW is in our society. It is overwhelming to try to gauge the degree to which VAW is entrenched in our tradition or to think that a localized movement could change that, but I feel the meticulous planning that KBC hinges on makes it a significant step in the crusade against VAW.