Bengaluru: As the outrage over the spate of sexual crimes against women and children continues to grow, Bengalureans have decided to take matters into their own hands and rid the city of its dubious new moniker, the Rape Capital.
‘Na Boli’, an initiative by Bengaluru-based martial arts trainer Ashwin Mohan, is a series of 50 short films aimed at combating the growing rape culture. There are three main aspects to this, saying ‘No’ clearly, being able to physically defend one’s decision and, of course, accepting rejection. Mohan has tied up with 100 NGOs and hopes to reach out to over 12 lakh people in 2015 alone.
One video will be released every week on Youtube, starting from January. Mohan hopes to reach out to every section of society – from the educated urbanite to the urban poor and the rural sector.
“We have done this by keeping all the videos without dialogues. The language restricts the target audience and there are many people out there who are not literate,” he explained. The NGOs he is working with will help take his work to the grassroots levels.
For Mohan, it all began when he was asked to work with a group of Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu.
“I’ve been working in this field for 12 years and it’s time, really, to find a permanent solution.” When he went to the refugee camp in 2007, he conducted workshops with the women, most of whom were dealing with physically abusive husbands. “I taught them self-defence techniques and how to say no. It worked so well that these women got together and separated their finances from those of their husbands. They even taught their daughters that education is more important than marriage. If it can work on a community of two lakh people, it can work with the whole country,” he said.
Mohan is moving to Mumbai to work on the videos, which he hopes will be done by June. “We’re going to release them one by one, so that the collaborating NGOs will have something to work with.” The initiative is being spurred on by the fact that Bengaluru has been getting a lot of flak from across the world as well. “I have foreign students coming to me for lessons and the first question they ask is whether India is safe for women.”
In India, both boys and girls need to understand the concept of saying ‘no’, he explained. “We’re totally motivated by our film industry, because parents refuse to discuss relationships with their children. Boys think that life is a like a movie. When a girl says no, they need to continue to stalk her and badger her and eventually, she will fall in love with him. Girls aren’t really decisive enough with their responses, either. That said, how you get treated should be something that you can design.”
Clinical psychologist Meghana Vijayanand said the balance of power is slowly shifting in what has always been a deeply patriarchal society. “We grow up seeing our female family members giving in to their male counterparts, it seems as if women are meant to be subjugated and men take the decisions.” Men, she said, are unable to adjust to this shift, having come from a world where “the opinions of women are simply not taken into account”.