The White Ribbon initiative is unique because it is a movement that was started by men to raise awareness and draw the attention of the world to violence that was perpetrated by men against women. Women have always known to fight for their own causes, be it financial independence or the right to vote, so when in 1991 a group of Canadian men started this for raising awareness about the prevalence of male violence against women, it came as a breath of fresh air. The White Ribbon symbolises “the idea of men giving up their arms”.
Violence against women does not discriminate, be it a developed country or a developing country. The GDP of a country or its financial ranking, the education of the general populace or other norms that represent a ‘civilised’ world has no bearings on this. Everything boils down to human behaviour, human mindset and of course most important of all the raising of a child—both a boy child and a girl child. We live in a predominantly patriarchal society and nothing much has changed with the passage of time. Yes, women have become more aware of their rights and they do feel empowered as more voices are being heard, but how this has translated into the reduction of the different forms of abuse and violence is yet to be seen. Pushing your partner or girl friend in a fit of anger, slapping her in moments of rage are acts of an egoistic yet cowardly person.
This year, on 25 November, the official White Ribbon Day something spectacular happened at the Cherrybrook Community Centre. Fifteen-year-old Simran Keswani launched her campaign against violence against women with special emphasis on sexual violence. She calls her campaign the “Case Closed Project”, drawing attention to ‘victim blaming and justice in the courtroom’. Dressed in White/Black, people from different age groups and different walks of life walked through the doors to support and commend this bold and ambitious venture. Sue Advani, who has been working tirelessly with the Indian community addressing the various issues faced by the women from the subcontinent, is Simi’s guide and mentor. Sunila Kotwal, White Ribbon Advocate and Akshay Raj, White Ribbon Ambassador addressed the audience, sharing with them some very concerning and alarming statistics. Present on the evening were also White Ribbon Ambassadors Paul McKenzie and Amar Singh. The event was sponsored by Victory Advertising, Fortune World travel, brace5, Taj, Reine Creative, Desire Creations and Graphic Code Studio. Other supporters included Suresh and Kavita Belani, Seema Sahni and Asha and Jerry Mehta. Let us get behind this campaign—let us create that Heaven of Freedom, Freedom from dread and abuse.