I delayed justice for myself for eight long years by keeping quiet about my injuries from the man who had vowed to protect me in the church in attendance of close to a thousand people of our congregation.
What kept me away from seeking help was the wide perspective nurtured in our society about good girl- bad girl, 'sanskari' married woman(translated from Hindi meaning one who is aware of cultural values and its rules and regulations, and leads his/her life according to it), the norm that a woman is best beside her husband, family honor, stigma of a single woman, divorced, widow, single mother or worst of all a woman who could file an F.I.R against her husband.
I also had the biggest assumption that the day I walk into a police station and a court, justice would be waiting for me. That is the biggest mistake a woman can make when she is being physically assaulted by husband or partner.
Experience of fighting the most exhausting domestic violence court case, both financially and emotionally, taught me that laws alone cannot protect women.
Because laws are implemented by people and people host biases due to their upbringing and social conditioning.
A judiciary that believes that a woman should remain in a marriage even if her spouse may be a threat to her life and well-being, will never serve to protect her.
And in this way, perspectives held by the larger society go beyond just our internal thoughts but become the reason why somebody is denied justice.
There is a need to work on these perspectives at the same war footing as we work on laws.
Voices of women need to be nurtured so that the world through a woman's lens can be put forth. Our stories need to be penned down only by ourselves so that we can shift the paradigm from how the authors of patriarchy interpreted our lives since generations to a time when we can be the writers of our own destiny.
Being able to tell your story can be the first step to healing. To heal a society the platform and space for women to share their stories need to be built. The next steps that follow only lead to empowerment.
No matter what we write, what our story may be centered around, we still will tell a different story, differently.
And over time perhaps one day we will find that the courtroom has a judiciary which believes that safety and dignity of a woman are of far greater value than remaining married.
I serve as Ambassador and Encourager (both voluntary roles) in World Pulse, the largest network of women from 190 countries and my role is very simple. I nurture women's voices and it involves reading their stories, encouraging them to keep marching ahead no matter what their circumstances may be, sometimes give editorial support if they ask for it, share resources like a relevant article, workshop, training or even information on funding avenues. But I found sometimes only a comment against these articles are the best gifts for women who may have taken years to 'come out' in front of everyone. The larger goal from these interactions is to be able to have more and more representations of women, how they see their lives, the issues that affect her and the solutions she knows will work for her and others.
It is an honor to be the Chief Guest at the launch of Spunky Indian , a lifestyle magazine from Banani Vissta Media Group in Bengaluru (India) which is an initiative from another sister Banani Das Dhar hailing from where I come from- the northeast of India. There are so many inspiring people who have assembled here in Awfis in Lavelle road. I am deeply moved to hear their stories from Autism, parenting, creating an enabling space for performance from artists, journey from being a housewife to an entrepreneur, facilitating entrepreneurship among women in India, scaling heights by body weight management and positive thinking to managing artists and musicians. The evening has been such an eye opener to how each one of us can fulfill our dreams by believing in them first. Banani's vision for her magazine is to bring these inspiring stories to people and motivate them to achieve their dreams.
Media has such a critical role in shifting the power structures within our society. My dream for Spunky Indian magazine is for it to be able to give wings to women who have the courage to weave a dream and make her believe in the the vast sky that awaits her. Just like World Pulse is not just about the stories on it but more about the women who wrote them, a magazine can also be a facilitator to self development for women around the world.
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This was my key note address as the Chief Guest in the launch of Spunky Indian on 20th January 2019, a lifestyle magazine in Bengaluru city, India where I wanted to speak about a different kind of journalism which builds the writer as much as it does the reader.