If not NOW, When?

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Raise YOUr voice

It’s time to wrap up all the confetti, streamers, buntings and banners for next year. Mar 08, 2018 and we will, dutifully, bring them back. It has indeed become an annual ritual with some of us. As humans we touched nadir when on FB we livestreamed the atrocity meted out to a minor by five animals and it attracted thousands of “likes” clicked on the live streaming. Really!!! Each day there are some new horrors that come to light. Yes, the media goes berserk, grabbing eyeballs and “selling” their conscience.

How much further can we, as humans, sink?

It is high-time we all rose to the atrocities perpetrated against women. Each one of us is part of the system. When I speak to students, I ask them some very hard hitting questions.

If you’ve watched bollywood movies which promote misogynistic ideas (even inadvertently), YOU’ve told the directors/ producers that you accept such ideas/ viewpoints. It’s a pure case of demand and supply. YOU demand and they supply. YOU asked for songs/ item numbers which portray women in a demeaning way/ objectify them. YOU’ve told them YOU want it. The onus lies ‘fairly and squarely’ on your conscience, buddy. Movies that promote the idea that ‘harassing a women for love’ is fine. Which promotes that ‘NO means MAYBE’; No it is NOT!!! Do a ‘Ranjhana’ and the girl will give in. The perpetrator needs psychiatric help – he can’t control his emotions. He can’t take a NO. He can’t handle daily rejections. You don’t need item numbers for movies to be HIT! We know that, right? A Dangal, English Vinglish, BMB, ZNMD, PK et al .. movies without item numbers and yet are box office successes.

Now is the Time to DO!!!!

These five basic steps could be the beginning. Just spread the word. Each one of us are responsible to make ‘Our Society’ the way we want it; the way we would like to have it. The way we would like to leave it for our children.

1.  Know YOUr Basic Rights. This is THE first step. Know that if you’re a women, you cannot be taken to the PS (police station) between last light and first light (sunset to sunrise). Know that the PS must have a lady constable. Know about zero FIR, which the SC has passed in a ruling recently. It says that the rape survivor can register in any PS (not necessarily the nearest PS), it can be done online, or registered post, even after weeks or months after the incident. The PS is mandated to record the statement.

2. Denounce Victim Blaming. Shaming her for the clothes she wore, the time or the place of the act or even her profession. Really? Each time we pass the blame to her, remember these are convenient narratives in support of patriarchal society and the mindset. It is NOT OK to strike/ perpetrate violence against women.

3. Have a Talk with YOUR family. Let YOUR family members know that a boy and the girl, both have same privileges. The rules acceptable for the boys are also applicable to the girls. Raise both of them with confidence. Let not the boy think that he can get away with anything. As parents we need to ‘teach our sons better’. #RESPECT. When the children see their father respecting mother, they take lessons for life.

4. Demand Actual Solutions. Candlelight vigils, sharing on whatsapp, blog on fb may raise awareness (and some just forward it for forwarding sake). It is more important we demand actual solutions. We need to denounce parliamentarians/ men in position of influence/ power to make such ridiculous statements like ‘chowmein is the cause of sexual atrocities’, jeans donning women ask for it, mobile phones or such absurd ideas. What we need to demand is rectify the sorry state of affairs; we need safer public transport, well-lit community spaces, faster processing of cases, higher conviction rates, sensitive handling of cases, national criminal register, and the list is endless. Let US begin. NOW .

5. Stop Forwarding Rape Jokes. It is NOT funny. STOP sharing, forwarding, sharing any/ every insensitive content. PLEASE . STOP . NOW . Reprimand those who do. It is these small things that YOU can do. People asked me in a number of sessions/ seminars, how do we know if it is risque? Hello? Really? OK .. put it through the grandmother test. If YOU can share it with YOUR grand mom, you can share it with your female colleagues. IF NOT, it is sexual harassment.

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NO, means NO!!!

I believe, that if you’re not raising YOUr voice, YOU are complicit and according YOUr consent. Is this the legacy YOU would like to leave behind for YOUr children?

IF NOT NOW WHEN?

WOmen SAFety (WOSAF): Proactive Measures

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How can we address Women Safety issues and prevent such incidents?

I go back to the incident on Jan 29, 2017 in Hinjewadi, IT Park, Pune, where, in an IT firm, a women associate was working late on Sunday evening. She was found murdered in the conference room. A security guard was arrested for the crime. This has set us all thinking and a number of you queried, could this incident be avoided?

A short answer would be YES!!!

But the long answer is: we need to work very hard to get to that state where such incidents can be totally eliminated. The security cams capture the event BUT after the act. All the procedures & processes are in place and YET such incidents happen at regular intervals. What is the matter? Can something be done? Is there NO hope? What’s wrong?

On Mar 08th, International Women’s Day, while I was addressing a group of around 250+ women of an MNC, a number of them queried such and similar issues. I share lessons from the Uniform. The fact I’m alive is due to the Buddy I had and I’m ever thankful to him. Every women must have a BUDDY. In the civvy street, there could be buddies for different occasions; in office, for running, for partying, for trekking. Basically, they should be a pair; the perpetrators are dissuaded and if at all anything happens, the partner can seek help. You go to the washroom, buddy is the drink watcher. You go for movies together. You are together in the office. You need a BUDDY.

This is true for Children too; and we can address the Child Sexual Abuse issue with this. In parks, in playgrounds, in buses, in societies, in schools – every child has a Buddy! This in itself will be one major step in curbing such like incidents.

What else can be done?

Recognize the role of Gender in Violence. While boys and men do experience abuse it is important to remember that the majority of victims of abuse are female and the majority of perpetrators of violence are boys and men. More importantly, Gender Violence is centrally about men. They need to be part of all such conversations. Men need to show courage to stand up and raise their voice, be part of discussions and be sensitive to the issue.

Use social media to spread the word. Express your concern. Raise your voice. More noise we make the energy will get down to everyone and each of us will be gripped by the problem. Just calling it Women’s issue is the major part of the problem. It is centrally about men. So we need more men to be part of these conversations. Spread the word.

Report any abuse/ use/ exploitation of photographs of women/ girls on social media platform. Be media literate and critical of any such issue that comes to your notice. Each drop makes a difference.

Interrupt sexist/homophobic and transphobic language. Words are powerful, especially when spoken by people who have power over others. We have politicians who have come out with such reprehensible remarks. We need to condemn them. Don’t accept such statements. Seek public apology. Gendered name-calling is used and sends a message, that, girls and women are less than fully human. When girls and women are seen as inferior, thus, it becomes easier to treat them with less respect and ignore their rights. Changing the way you speak can change the way you think. Don’t circulate demeaning messages. Don’t share. Have the courage to stand up and say so.

Interrupt abuse. If you see a man get physical with a girl, say something to stop him from continuing to be abusive. If you are at a party and one of your peers or friends is intoxicated and being led away by a guy[s] stop him from being alone with her and help her get home. Help avoid such situations where they are vulnerable to exploitation.

Stop street harassment. Don’t engage in any forms of sexual harassment, such as catcalling, and unwanted touching. And don’t let your friends and peers engage in those behaviours either! It’s not just enough that you don’t engage in those behaviours, be empowered to speak up against friends and peers who do! Don’t look the other way!

Stop Victim Blaming. Don’t blame women/ girls for how they choose to dress or judge their behaviour. Violence can’t be prevented through limiting the freedoms of girls. This only allows the violence to continue because perpetrators become invisible, and those who witness remain silent. It is their choice and as long as they exercise the choice by full import of its repercussions, take adequate precautions, and choose. Men cannot take this as an excuse to pass the blame. 

Stop Rape Culture. One way to stop rape culture is by not allowing people to perpetuate rape culture through minimizing/normalizing rape through jokes. When a friend or peer tells a joke about being violent against women/girls in some way, say you don’t find it funny and let them know that it is not okay. It’s NOT OK!! Period.

Educate yourself on the roots of violence. Violence against women/girls stems in a patriarchal society, where men have overbearing control. Create safe spaces to discuss gender violence. Create an after office club/group where you can openly discuss your views and experiences and support your peers. Educate people around you. Sensitize your workforce. Confront yourself/your ideas. Reflect on your beliefs and why you have those beliefs and your actions, and opinions. Be honest and admit your faults and commit to changing the way you think and act.

Stop stereotyping men’s and women’s roles-Social roles and expectations may affect a man’s decisions about relationships. Men are taught that expressing feelings is not masculine. Examining your social role and learning ways to express feelings directly and non-violently can help to create deeper and more meaningful interpersonal relationships. You don’t have to prove yourself.

Be Supportive. When women tell you about violence they have experienced in their lives believe them. It is extremely rare for girls to make up a story about rape or abuse. You may be the first and only person she tells. Believe her and support her decisions, without being judgmental. Parents need to be approachable. The scar of such incidents can last life-long. You need to understand and reduce the pain. Don’t victimize her. She didn’t ask for it.

Talk to others about ending violence and be a mentor. Volunteer your time to preventing violence by speaking to others. This brings awareness to the issue, which will motivate others to act. Understand consent. Boys and young men need to be respectful when entering into a sexual relationship and should not feel entitled to girls and women’s bodies. Just because you are a ‘nice guy’ does not mean you should have any expectations. Like Thordis Elva mentions, I trusted Tom (Stranger). They had come to know each other when Tom came to Iceland on a Student exchange program. Like a knight in shining armour, he took her home, when she was intoxicated. Laid her on her bed and raped her.

Remember gender violence is not an individual issue. We all have a role in ending violence against girls and women and it is important that we all take responsibility in ending the violence. As a society, we need to mature and respect every human being.

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This is a crusade and we need to be part of this scourge of Gender Violence.

We can make a DIFFERENCE . Raise your VOICE . Make your voice COUNT .

Another Brick in the Wall – Part 2

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The rise in incidents of sexual assault brings to the fore the responsibility of the Society.

The unfortunate incident at the IT office in Pune on a Sunday throws up a pertinent question – How safe are Women in our society? Are we doing enough to make this planet a better place for them to live . love . laugh . It’s very easy to blame the organization and wash our hands off! Well that would be the Ostrich Approach. Find a scapegoat and Blame it on Rio! There are systemic fault lines that need addressing. In my last post, I mentioned that the other stakeholders in this conundrum, with whom the onus rests too! I’ll address each one of them.

Men. The question I keep posing to the YOUth invariably is: think 5/10 years down the line and imagine YOUr daughter walking down the street; do you think she’ll feel safe. If the answer is NO, then what are you doing about it? Each one of us are responsible. Remember, your silence is a form of consent and complicity. We need more men to have the Courage and Strength to stand up and be heard. YOUr voice counts. YOU make a difference.

Men have largely erased from much of the conversation that is centrally about men. The moment they hear, ‘Women’s Safety’, they take it as a ‘Women’s Issue’ and switch off from the conversation. If YOU think hard, YOU’ll realize that gender violence is largely about men perpetrating brutality on the fairer sex. And men conveniently have eased out of the situation. Buddy, remember, in each of such incidents, besides the perpetrator, present alongside the survivor was a man; be it the boyfriend, husband, brother. The men have let them down. They are the ones who couldn’t stand up to be counted.

And then there is this other issue. Dan Ariely, Prof of Psychology and Economics at MIT and George Loewenstein, Prof at Carnegie Mellon University came up with their findings. Their research examined the effect of sexual arousal, on judgments and decisions made by male college students. Students were asked to: (a) indicate how appealing they find a wide range of sexual stimuli and activities, (b) report their willingness to engage in morally questionable behavior in order to obtain sexual gratification, and (c) describe their willingness to engage in unsafe sex when sexually aroused. The results show that sexual arousal had a strong impact on all three areas of judgment and decision making, demonstrating the importance of situational forces on preferences, as well as subjects’ inability to predict these influences on their own behavior. Thus at the ‘heat of the moment’ the man is unpredictable; in fact so unpredictable, that even he has no idea what it can lead to and up to what extent he would compromise his principles/ scruples.(http://web.mit.edu/ariely/www/MIT/Papers/Heat_of_Moment.pdf).

A news channel had come out with a wonderful ad: Three goons board a bus and the eve teasers hand ‘accidently’ falls on the shoulders of a woman (Soha Ali) sitting in the bus. An old man hauls him up for his misdemeanour and the goon says, “it was only a hand, and it slipped. I say sorry”. And the old man quips, how come your hands don’t slip on your sister’s shoulders or a burning hot oven and ends it giving a slap on the face of the goon. And retorts, “Sorry, it was just my hand and it slipped”.  We need to stand up for such eve teasers and raise our voices. Each drop counts. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk6Bi23Q7-E)

There are certain DON’Ts that every man must understand. (a) Please don’t expect sex in return for buying gifts. (b) And don’t pressurize to have sex; don’t emotional blackmail either. (c) Have the courage to accept a ‘NO’. (d) It’s NOT OK to use force. Under no circumstance can you justify the use of force, EVER. (e) A peck/ kiss doesn’t mean that intercourse will follow. Please. Let HER have the choice. (f) And avoid excessive alcohol/ drugs. They impair your judgment. Besides they let you lose control and deviant behaviour is seen as normal.

Men need to change the macho image. Get used to the fact that women have broken the glass ceiling and they can assert their rights. In patriarchal society, expressing emotions is seen as unmanly. Sensitive males are gentle towards women. You’ll be in connect with your feminine side. Cut off the meek, lame excuses like she provoked it, or she asked for it, or even the ridiculous – I was drunk.

With the nuclear families replacing the joint family system, both the parents are working parents. The onus to teach the children fairly and squarely lies on him too. The foundation of the issues are sown in the family. When the children see their father respecting their mother, they learn respect. Nothing short would do. When they see their father talking/ consulting the mother, they learn to value the opinion of the other half. Inclusiveness. Equality and fairness. Just. When they see their father helping the mother in the household chores, they learn sharing and caring. Responsibility. Duty. Parents need to teach their children better. With such role models in their own homes, they grow up well nourished and with a positive image of the other gender.

Respect . Love . Sharing . Caring . 

If the “boys” are delinquents, it’s our failure. We failed to teach them better. We need to think of the role models they see in the daily lives. The kind of movies that are churned out. The kind of lyrics and the kind of songs. Show me a society where the women are ill-treated/ not respected; and I’ll show you a society which is at the edge of the precipice.

 

 

Hey, Some more on Personal Interviews

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How do I prepare for the Qs?

You’ve decided to join the industry! Great .. btw, did you decide which domain will you like to join? and Why? Which career choice and depending on your personality, whether you’d like to be in sales, customer service, hospitality, travel or the various other choices that are on offer. This is important and this is indeed the first step; as this will decide your ‘doing’ the job or ‘loving’ the job.

Having shortlisted and now preparing for the interview, I’m sure you’ve ‘investigated’ the organization that you’re planning to join. When did it set shop? How many employees? Its footprints and USP? Its clients, vendors and what do they say about them? What is their future, their values, mission and where are they headed? Lay hands on every tidbit that you can – including, preferably from some employees too! Also find out where you “fit-in” in the organization. This will give you an insight into their hiring mindset. If they’ve recently signed a big contract with ‘X’ Company, you would know they would require people to service ‘X’ Company, the technology, the particular vertical or horizontal.

Then comes the Big 5. The five questions, that you’ll have to answer. First and foremost is, Tell me something about you (in various forms/ different words). I touched very briefly about this in my previous post. Most of the interviewees, start off ‘reciting the CV’ (and the CV is right in front of the hapless Interviewer, Imagine!!). What do you think? They can’t read?  This is the biggest blunder you could do to harm your non-selection.

So what do you say? Tell them anything, which is NOT in your CV. Tell them things about YOU which will help them understand you better. Tell them your qualities, which are not reflected in your CV. Tell them things which helps them see how you’re a ‘good-fit’ in their organization. Connect this to the technology they are looking for and how you could work in this particular vertical or horizontal. (This also helps them understand that you’ve read up about the organization and you’re interested!).

2. What are your strengths? Relate your strengths to the role/job. And please give them examples of how you realized that you’ve these ‘strengths’ and not words picked up from Uncle Google! I’ve oft heard: “I’m a born leader”, and this is how the interview progresses.

Int: Why should I hire you? (Strengths).

You: Sir, I’m a born leader.

Int: Aha! great .. can you tell me what did you do in the recent past to display these leadership qualities?

You: Sir, I was the class monitor in Class IV. (You killed; 5,000-0). OR

You: Sir, it were these very leadership skill sets which got me nominated as the College CR. Sir, my role as CR necessitated me to interact on a regular basis to various stakeholders; the management, faculty, students, vendors and various outside organizations. This in turn helped me to hone my skills sets in conflict management, allocation of resources, prioritising and of course communication. (Int killed; 0-100).

3. Do you have any Weakness? If you’re even thinking of answering, NO! Start walking out of the interview room, NOW. Hello, even the Pandavas were in hell. Everyone has some or other weakness. So, do I tell them of my weakness?  They are very experienced in understanding when you are trying to speak of your strength and sell it as weakness. “Sir, I’m a perfectionist?” Hello!!! But for heaven’s sake don’t speak of your phobias as weakness, Ever.

Int: Do you have any weakness?

You: Yes sir, of the many weaknesses (DUH!!!), I’m afraid of lizards. (Believe me, I was told this by an aspirant and sir, I’m afraid of the dark!!!). (You killed; 100-0).

And please don’t mention any of your kinks!! Sir, at times, I lie – only white lies sir. HULLLLLOOOO! or at times I get angry! (and here you’re handling a very important client of the Organization and YOU think of throwing an anger fit!!!). A big NO-NO.

Any weakness you mention, it must be accompanied by four things. How/ when did you realize you had this issue? How did it affect your work? What did you do about it? What is its present condition?

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What are your short term goals?

4. Your goal related Q. Your short term/ mid term goals. Please don’t mention your dream of being an entrepreneur (so, you join me to gain experience and you fly the coop). OR I want to pursue MBA .. and therefore you join me for what? Make this answer relevant to the Organization and the job. Plus how you’ll contribute to the growth of the company.

5. Last but NOT the least. Do you’ve any Qs for me. Please have. YOU better have. I made a mention in my previous blog too. Qs could be related to the Organization (again displaying, how much YOU know about the organization) and how it is relevant to you. Besides, you could always ask something like:

Int: Do you’ve any Qs for me?

You: No sir/ ma’am. (You Killed; 100-0).

You: Yes sir/ ma’am, I would have sometime in hand till I graduate/ join/ passout .. do you recommend I learn any new competencies like … (ones which they’re looking for) OR any fresh language I need to pick up.( Int killed; 0-500).

And as you walk out (with confidence), Thank them, wish them, smile and leave – without a fuss. Throughout the process maintain a very positive frame of mind and a pleasant demeanour.images

Wishing you the very best … Go out and conquer the World.

 

Another Brick in the Wall

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God, forgive them for they know not what they’re doing

A very recent incident on the campus of an IT firm in Pune, bring back to fore the vulnerability of the female employee, even at an MNC. Sad. Sad. Sad. The sad part is that such incidents keep re-occurring and we, society as a whole, have become numb to such happenings. It has become just a number. And this will be repeated over and over and over again. She leaves behind her family members, who would be devastated. And the saddest part is this could be avoided. This and such like incidents can be avoided.

The MNC has done everything it was required to do. All the precautions were in place. The CCTV in the right place with the right angles. Access to the GDC restricted to only authorized personnel. Regular verification of the employees working in the GDC. A background check of the employees. Due diligence by the client. The authentication process in place. Regular checks of persons whom the work has been outsourced. Police verification. And some would say, what else can we do? Really? If that is the question that comes to your mind you have been bitten by the immune bug!! Your thinking processes are NOT working.

People need to understand that all the security cams are devices which help after the incident. All the processes that we put in place are good. BUT, but they are all passive measures. What are the active measures that are taken for prevention of such crimes?

We, as a society, need to foremost prevent such incidents from occurring. There are five stakeholders involved in this; let us quickly see what is the responsibility of each one of them.

1. Women/ lady/ girl: It becomes incumbent on our part to be aware of the situation in and around us; ALL THE TIME. A police document produced post-interview of a number of rapists speak of a victim’s profile (potential victims): a. Someone looking underconfident and walking around looking down (shoulders sagging, brooding, in her own thoughts). b. Someone NOT aware of the surroundings, what is happening around (unplug YOUR ear plugs NOW). c. Someone who has long hair (it helps them to get a better hold of the victim). d. Someone going through their purse (looking for keys/ anything) while moving in the public place.

Ladies: FOREMOST be aware of what is happening around YOU. TIP NO 1. HAVE A BUDDY. (This life-saving tip will always stand you in good stead). Today, I’m alive after facing action (and bullets) is thanks to my buddy. Have a workplace buddy. Have a society buddy. Have a running buddy. Have a train buddy. Have as many buddies for your different activities. Basically, YOU are never alone. Buddies look after each other and save lives. The perpetrators of such heinous crimes are taken aback (think twice) before initiating any action seeing two people. The Buddy system of the Armed Forces is instrumental in saving lives and fighting the common enemy together. 

2. The role of the other four stakeholders in my subsequent posts. The Men, The Government, The Society and last but not the least The Family.

Await my other active measures for WOmen SAFety (WOSAF) that I impart to organizations/ institutions. I dream to make this a better place for women to live.

My mission is to make our Planet a better place for women to Live . Laugh . Love .

 

International Women’s Day

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Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, we are Free at last!!!

On March 08th, 2017, we celebrate another International Women’s Day. The usual round of seminars, talks and hullabaloo will draw our attention towards the ‘breaking of the glass ceiling/ plight/ atrocities/ conditions and various other issues related to Women.

I’ve been addressing (and speaking) on issues related to Women Safety and the Situation Control measures that each women can take. There would be instances when you’re in an unfavourable position; how do you come out of it unscathed? How do you retain initiative? How do you handle the post-incident trauma? Has the situation improved over the last decade? Does one need to learn martial arts to deal with such hooligans?

I repeat some tenets of WOSAF (Women Safety) and SITCON (Situation Control):

  • YOUr strength emanates from YOUr attitude. Don’t display any Fear.
  • Offence is the only form of Defence (this is what I’ve learnt in my 25 years in the uniform). Here the perpetrators of the heinous crimes are seeking power. Its imposition of their will. Meek submission does not keep you safe.
  • Women are gifted with sixth sense. This innate ability has been honed over ages of protecting the family in the cave. This has wired their peripheral vision to near 180 degrees. They can sense danger. Be alert and trust your senses. If something doesn’t seem right; chances are they are NOT.
  • BUT for your sixth sense to perform there are certain criteria; UNPLUG and be aware of your surroundings. YOU cannot be listening to music or be on the mobile phone in a public area. YOU’ve to be looking around, present a picture of assurance (no nonsense attitude) and stride with confidence.
  • It’s only in reel life a man/women can stand up to 8-10 goons aka Shenshah! In real life escape and run is a good idea. The route out and route in should be planned in advance. Thus avoiding back lanes, unlit areas, lonely parks enroute and avoid bars/ pubs/ hooch shops in the locality.
  • ICE (In Case of Emergency) numbers must be on your speed dial. Have some additional emergency numbers too. There are a number of apps available in the open market these days for your smart phone.
  • Be aware of the laws; especially against ‘Self-Defence’. For the working women, knowledge of Vishaka Guidelines is imperative. Acid attack survivors and their rights.

If at all there would be one, just one advice I would give, it would be parents teach your sons better. The government initiative “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao” is laudable BUT I would rather have it read: “Beta Padhao, Beti Bachao”.

WOSAF (WOmen SAFety)

Couple holding hands having sex inside a car

Better safe than sorry.

In recent occurrences of woman molestation by the driver(s) of taxi services. Certain facts came to fore. It is imperative that we share these among our friends. The onus of being safe is ours. How do I take precautions that such incidents are minimised.

One. Most of the time you are unsure of their police verification and hence their credentials. In some cases, their social background, their experiences in their families all lead up to such incidents. So be wary whenever you are in such paid taxi services. You don’t know what kind of day he has had – moreso, at unusual hours.

Two. Invariably, it was found that the child lock in the cab/ car/ van was activated. Now it is important to know how does it work.

Child safety locks are built into the rear doors, to prevent rear seat passengers from opening the doors during transit. They provide the driver with a simple, safe & secure method to prevent unauthorized exit from the car. Although called a child lock it is equally effective for adult passengers.

The lock is typically engaged via a small switch on the edge of the door that is only accessible when the door is open. Once the door is closed, control of the mechanical type child locks is completely inaccessible to the passenger. When the child lock is engaged, the interior handle is rendered useless. In this state the passenger simply cannot open the door and are effectively locked in. The door can only be opened by someone lifting the outside handle, either a second person or by the passenger opening the window and reaching the outside handle.

What should I do? The first thing before you board the cab/ taxi/ van is to check, whether the child lock switch is ON or OFF. You would like to slide it into OFF position prior to shutting the door. Better safe than sorry.

Three. The next thing to do onboarding (especially at odd hours) is to share the details of the cab to your destination OR fone-o-friend, in the language the driver understands, that is hindi. “Yes, Neha, I’ve just boarded the cab. The number is (you got an SMS) OR just read out from the windscreen; DL 02 …… Yup, I should reach by … “Bhaiyya, Malviya Nagar tak kitna time lagega?” by 1.30 am. He knows that someone is waiting at the destination for you. Should you not reach in time, alarm bells will be sounded. Better safe than sorry.

Be Aware . Be Alert . Be Safe .

Women Atrocities

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Women Issues – a Taboo Topic

Feminism in its noun form is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes. It is a range of political movements, ideologies and social movements that share a common goal – to define, establish and achieve political, economic, personal and social rights for women that are equal to those of men. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.

In the increased instances of atrocities against women, one major factor which stands out is the level of education amongst the victims. It is not to say that the educated are NOT harassed but the instances reduce drastically. More often than not, when uneducated, the chances are the atrocities have gone unnoticed and unreported. Cases of police refusing to write down a complaint are galore. Complaining and cribbing is NOT the solution. We, as a society, have to take up cudgels and make sure that the ‘Right to Education’ is truly implemented in letter and spirit.

Importance of Women education

It is imperative that the women be educated for various reasons and its importance is briefly summarized below:

1. Economic development and prosperity: Education will empower women to come forward and contribute towards the development and prosperity of the country.

2. Economic empowerment: So long as women remain backward and economically dependent on men, the helpless condition is prone to exploitation. Economic empowerment and independence will only come through proper education.

3. Improved life: Education helps a woman to live a good life. She can claim her identity as an individual. She can read and learn about her rights. Her rights would not get trodden down. The life/condition of women would improve.

4. Improved health: Educated girls and women are aware of the importance of health and hygiene. Through health education, they are empowered to lead a healthy lifestyle. Educated mothers can take better care of both herself and her baby.

5. Dignity and honour: Educated women are now looked upon with dignity and honour. They become a source of inspiration for millions of young girls who make them their role-models.

6. Justice: Educated women are more informed of their rights for justice. It would eventually lead to decline in instances of violence and atrocities against women such as dowry, forced-prostitution, child-marriage, female foeticide, etc.

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7. Choice to choose a profession of her choice: Educated women can prove be highly successful in the fields of life. A girl-child should get equal opportunity for education, so that, she can plan to become a successful doctors, engineers, nurses, air-hostesses, cook, or choose a profession of her choice.

8. Alleviate poverty: Women education is a pre-requisite to alleviate poverty. Women need to take equal burden of the massive task of eliminating poverty. This would demand massive contribution from educated women. There cannot be much social and economic changes unless girls and women are given their rights for education.

Until the middle of nineteenth century, girls and women were educated only for traditional household works. Now, the society is witnessing changes in the role-status of women. There is greater emphasis on education girls and women in the same way as we educate boys and men. The modern-day parents want to fulfill the aspiration of their children without gender parity.

The overall position of women in society definitely will improve with better education and a general conscious effort on our part.

Our Collective Conscience in Auto mode

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In the recent past a number of incidents of ‘Atrocities against Women’ has been reported by the media but the vox populi seems to have numbed. Our collective conscience seems to have gone on an Auto mode. No more the candle light marches, seen after the ‘Nirbhaya’ episode. No more raising slogans. No more student agitation. It seems to have been accepted as part of the scenery. Just passes by as you pass by life.

A law student killed in gruesome manner, very akin to Nirbhaya, in Kerala. A young girl tortured and murdered in Ahmedabad. A girl raped twice over by the same assailants. A small girl raped and made to wait at the Police Station the whole day before the complaint could be lodged (the tests need to be performed within 24 hours). Where is the fury? The rage? The Justice Verma Committee came up with several recommendations. He chiefly blamed failure of governance. Despite the Act, passed with great fervour, it doesn’t seem to have helped much.

Stalking and voyeurism are offences punishable by seven years in jail. There is not a single case of anyone put behind bars. Stalking continues. Voyeurs continue to spy. The first place to go after any incident is the Police Station. It is here that the law has to transcend from the exalted books to action. And yet it is here that we fail miserably.

The proposed Bill of Rights for Women, which would entitle women to a life of dignity and security and ensure that she has the right to complete sexual autonomy including with respect to her relationships is hardly even talked about. Fact is, as a society, somewhere we have abdicated our sense of responsibility. We are looking for some ‘Mr India’, who’ll come and sweep away all our ills. We are therefore NOT taking the onus; passing the buck and NOT standing up and are NOT being counted.

The Delhi rage should’ve pushed us for stricter and faster reforms and their implementation. But sadly we missed the bus. Public anger did not translate into action and the fury did not manifest as a law. The misogynists and criminals rampantly harass women in several ways and sadly the onus is put on the women. That she drew the ire of the assailant, she dressed skimpily, or somehow it was all her mistake.

It’ll take time to change mindsets. The law should be a deterrent. But it is a provocating thought that should get us going. A few years down the line, “it’ll be my daughter walking down the street. If the street is unsafe today, will it be safe for her tomorrow?”

If the answer is an univocal NO, then ask yourself, what are you doing about it?

 

What saved my life? It can save your’s too!

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The above photograph is telling of what ensures the men in uniform, under life threatening situations, perform day after day in extreme treacherous conditions, facing bullets, undergoing tremendous hardships of terrain and work conditions and survive!

You’ll acquiesce that it is not one factor that leads to success and necessarily a combination of factors that lead to the success of a team. Individual achievements aside, it is the team that has to perform. So what makes us tick? What are the factors that lead to success? And most importantly, can any of these help me survive in the world outside the uniform?

Let me begin with the one most glaring fact of the photograph above. You see a ‘buddy pair’ operating in unison looking after each other. The system of buddy pairs is an age old system prevalent in the Army and has been responsible for saving many a lives and ensuring success.

Wikipedia describes it as, “The buddy system is a procedure in which two people, the “buddies”, operate together as a single unit so that they are able to monitor and help each other. As per Merriam-Webster, the first known use of the phrase “buddy system” goes as far back as 1942. Webster goes on to define the buddy system as “an arrangement in which two individuals are paired (as for mutual safety in a hazardous situation).” The buddy system is basically working together in pairs in a large group or alone. Both the individuals have to do the job. The job could be to ensure that the work is finished safely or the skill/learning is transferred effectively from one individual to the other.

How does it work in field? How does it deliver result under such conditions? What are the factors which ensure success? Can I adopt it here to protect myself?

The buddies cover each other’s back. They look at their area of responsibility, the first buddy looks from 9’0 to 12’0 clock direction (ninety degrees) and the other buddy looks after from 12’0 clock to 3’0 clock direction. Thus the pair cannot be surprised by any lurking danger/ enemy. Thus the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts“. The buddies feed off each other’s strength, they know each other intimately (they are paired checking out their compatibility/ village/ affinity), and operate together. They revel in each other’s success and cover for each other’s shortcomings, if any. They train together and work in unison like a well oiled machine. Well, you get the idea!!!

I always recommend adoption of the buddy system in your day to day life too! It is the best tool to ensure Women Safety and fight Child Sexual Abuse. Move around, operate and work in pairs. Now, take your mind back to all the incidents of say, child abuse in the schools. The predator would find a secluded place (toilet/ gymnasium/ parking lot) and molest the innocent victim. If only the teacher/ parent/ guardian followed the age old practice of a buddy system. Take your mind to the school at 11 a.m when all the classes are on and all the teachers are in the classrooms. Megha wants to visit the toilet. Alone she is a potential victim. Now, when Megha has to visit the toilet, the teacher must send her buddy Neha along. The two are formidable. The predator is deterred. Should he still think of executing his nefarious plans, Neha can scream, alternatively, Neha can run and seek help. And the possibilities are manifolds. The drastic drop in such activities in schools where I’ve propounded the buddy system has shown very positive results. This could be applied for the car pool, the sports field and you think of any situation, it always works!!

As Megha grows up, this could also be implemented in the work place, party scene – or any other situation. One could have different sets of partners in crime but the buddy system always works.

Now you know, what saved my life. After 25 years in the uniform, I can confidently say and credit my survival to my buddy. This blog is to eulogize my buddy, but for him the days in the uniform would surely would’ve have been numbered.