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IGNITORS: Men and women must shun gender bias, says activist

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CAMPUS: On the second day of Ignitors, the non-Catholic PG students of Mass Communication, Political Science and Social Work went through fresh sessions that saw them exposed to critical issues in society.

“I was half tempted to close my eyes and cross the busy road so that I did not have to deal with whatever came next,” said Saranya Francis, a poet, activist, writer and teacher who was molested and raped at the age of 17.

Back home, she was asked not to talk about the incident to anyone but her choice was different. ht. “If we are not going to talk about it, what’s the point of being educated?” she exclaimed.

“I decided to make something out of my life,” she said. And now, here she was at Ignitors, standing in front of the students as an activist educating them about domestic violence and sexual harassment. “My right to my body is violated,” she said, as she took the students through a number of issues faced by female ‘victims’ like infertility, improper menstrual cycle, and even intimacy with a chosen partner that could be intimidating.

Saranya believes that society is to be blamed on how we are bought up. The men are always brought up to think that they are superior and women are always told that they are inferior. Women are treated like objects and less as human beings.

“Are you telling me that men are so loose minded that only if they see a woman in a nine metre saree will they respect her?” she asked.  “We have to stop being so gender biased, both men and women,” she said.

Saranya considers the notion of instant gratification that has spread through society as the primary cause for sexual harassment and domestic violence. She gave an overview of the laws and regulations that exist to safeguard woman.

The next session was taken by Latha Paul, a professor from the MSW department, who talked about good governance. She spoke of a world where “the untouchables become the touchables at night”. She also mentioned that after the Right To Education Act, where a few schools who were forcefully made to admit students from lower class families, gave these students a different hair cut where they included them in the classrooms just to exclude them.

Ajmal Keloth, a MSW student said “I wasn’t expecting these sessions to enrich me with so much knowledge as they did. I will ponder these issues for a long time. They have made me determined to somehow make a difference, even if it is a minute one.”


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