In Pune, the Yatra was received by Manuski, an organization that works on caste based violence and discrimination. The survivors visited the ‘Phule Wada’- Savitri and Jyoti Bai Phule’s residence. The discussion linked the ideology and politics of the work done by Savitri and Jyoti Bai Phule to empower women and its and the intent of the yatra.
In Satara and Kohlapur, the meetings were organized by Child Welfare departments and members of organization working with children,, to focus specifically on the issue of child sexual abuse. Representatives of the Abhiyan outlined the emotional, psychological and social impact of sexual abuse on children.
23rd December | Goa
The Yatra arrived in Panjim for a press conference held in Azad Maidan. The event was well received by various local news channels. The conference was organized by Arz, an organization that works with sex workers in Vasco, specifically the Byna district. In the press conference it was also shared that there are no special fast track courts in Goa, to expedite cases of sexual violence, which leads to judicial delays and a low conviction rate.
24th December | Karnataka
Belgaum, in North Karnataka, has seen a long history of the Devdasi system. Briefly, girls are ‘dedicated’ at a young age to a temple/deity, before puberty. Though the practice has been deemed illegal, it continues in various parts of South India. Mahila Abhivruddhi Matthu Samraksahna Samsthé (MASS) an organization that has been trying to empower Devdasis, hosted the meeting. The discussed focused on caste based practices of sex work.[image.png]
The meeting was also joined by members of the transgender community, working with the Humanity Foundation, who spoke about the sexual violence they experience due to their identity. Shakti- Aids Prevention Sangam an organization working with sex workers and at risk minority groups, also shared their experiences.
In Davangere, Chitradurga and Dharwad, the yatra met with representatives from the women and child welfare deparments and district collectors who pledged their support to the yatra and promised to take more strident steps toward ensuring prevention of sexual violence in their areas.
The Yatra arrived in Bangalore and held a press conference at the press club in Cubbon Park. As survivors shared their stories, a representative of the press claimed that education would ensure a decrease in sexual violence. He went on to suggest that if a woman files a complaint of sexual violence, her honor is further tainted, she loses her ‘izzat’
This exchange emphasized the need for sensitization of media personnel who carry deep prejudices with regard to sexual violence, that also reflects in the way they report these experiences.
2nd January | Chennai
In Chennai, a meeting at the Madras university was attended by students, members of the International Justice Mission, and members from the Pranjay trust. We also traveled to Coimbatore, Bhavani and Pondicherry to meet community based organizations working in the state.
So far, the yatra has covered 2,500 kilometers in its journey to create awareness on sexual violence across the country.
The experience of traveling together in a bus across the various regions and cultures has created a high sense of camaraderie and solidarity among the participants of the Yatra. The feedback meeting held at the end of every day is a space where all the participants have a chance to voice their opinions, concerns, and experiences. Be that of the people they have met, the food they’ve eaten or the places they’ve traveled to. One of the most cherished experiences of the Yatra has been to see the survivors who were initially fearful of speaking in public, gaining confidence and leading public meetings in front of thousands of people.
We have encountered many generous experiences and are leaving with you with one story from the journey so far: Upon reaching Kohlapur in the middle of the night, we realized that there were no functional toilets where we were staying. We approached a Sulabh Toilet Complex guard to request him to allow the premises for free. On hearing what the Yatra was about, a tourist who was passing by at the time offered to cover our costs of using the toilet. The Yatra would not be possible without the pro bono support of local organizations, social movements, well-wishers and strangers we have met along the way who have generously contributed their time, energy, financial resources and spread the word in various networks, which otherwise would have been impossible to reach.
Goa: Times of India<https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/abuse-survivors-urged-to-join-dignity-march/articleshow/67222191.cms>, Prudent Media Goa<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJWP5YwJNCw>, RDX Goa <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XshHgC5tTj0> Pune: Sakal Times <http://www.sakaltimes.com/pune/social-stigma-police-apathy-add-rape-survivors%E2%80%99-woes-29357> Bangalore: The Hindu<https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/march-against-sexual-violence-on-women-and-children/article25836802.ece>, Chennai: Deccan Cronicale<https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/050119/dignity-march-emboldened-rape-survivors-in-kurnool.html>
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