Parivartan: Empower Against Abuse

Parivartan: Empower Against Abuse

February 3, 2021 | Author: Chhavi, Himanshu, Madhuri, Shubhra, Shobana, Smitha, Parivartan Core Team

Have you experienced raw fear when walking on a lonely street? You are not alone. This has been a common experience for many of us growing up, and in our adult years as well.

It was January 2020. The four of us, strangers to each other, living on different continents, connected through an online community of women with a common alma mater – the Indian Institutes of Management. We were bound by a common passion – fighting the scourge of sexual violence and rapes in India.

Two months earlier, in Nov 2019, a 27 year old veterinarian doctor, Dr Priyanka Reddy, was abducted near Hyderabad. She was gang-raped, strangled and then burnt to death. The grisly incident revived memories of the animalistic Nirbhaya gang rape and torture in a bus in New Delhi 8 years ago. The anger, helplessness and guilt felt by the country could not be contained. We were determined to convert our helplessness into a call for action. And Parivartan was born. We were joined by 2 child activists working with schools on similar causes.

Legal consequences, public shaming and strict punishments do act as a deterrent. But studies show that convicted rapists consistently show a low opinion of women, lack of remorse at their crimes and shame the victim. Also, the misguided notion of men being the ‘stronger’ gender sometimes results in suppression of emotions and hampers the development of healthy masculinity. Men and boys can also be subject to abuse and these instances are rarely talked about or reported. Often, perpetuators and society blame and shame the victims. Clearly, punishment is inadequate, and eliminating this scourge from society needs to begin with prevention.

Our research over the course of months showed that initiatives that shaped mindsets from an early age to foster healthy gender norms, help informed choice-making and engender mutual respect are more successful in preventing rape and sexual abuse to begin with.

That is the philosophy behind our initiative – ‘Parivartan – Empower Against Abuse.”

Parivartan entails a gender sensitization curriculum that provides kids with the knowledge, skill and confidence to fight abuse and develop healthy mindsets. These kids will grow up to be adults that stand up for gender equality, mutual respect and a rejection of violence.

The journey to find an appropriate curriculum led us to explore global programs such as No Means No Worldwide, Promundo as well as local ones in India. In the end, given the different local dialects, we are engaging multiple curriculum partners in India with comprehensive immersive and experiential curriculums in gender sensitization. During the pilot phase, trainers from these curriculum partners will train facilitators from our partner NGOs.
We are excited to have multiple partner NGOs dedicate facilitators for this cause, as well as motivated individuals who would like to be trained to join our facilitators cohort. The trained facilitators will then work with children in schools in the new academic school year. We plan refresher workshops to reinforce these values and mindsets in future years. The pilot program will run in schools in Rajasthan, UP, MP, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

Our vision does not stop with the pilot. Our eventual goal is to reach as many states as is possible through establishing local chapters in multiple states, partnering with additional NGOs, opening the program to volunteer facilitators and eventually working with governments to incorporate the curriculum as a regular part of school education.

We are actively fundraising for the pilot. Please contribute to our Milaap crowdfunding fundraiser here.

Funds are not the only way to contribute – your ideas and thoughts to help our program grow and scale are welcome. In the end, meaningful change comes when a critical mass of people are passionate about making a difference.

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Parivartan Core Team: Chhavi, Himanshu, Madhuri, Shubhra, Shobana and Smitha
Chhavi is a doctoral researcher in Computational Biology and a child-rights activist and change maker, who was recently recognized with the Women of Worth and Impact Maker 2020 awards for her social work. She lives in Hyderabad. Himanshu is a District Child Protection Officer in Punjab working for the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Madhuri is a business process and supply chain leader in the tech industry living in Singapore. Shubhra is an experienced technical program manager working in the tech industry in the Boston area. Shobana is an entrepreneur who has worked extensively in financial services and risk consulting for domestic and international organizations. Shobana lives in Chennai. Smitha is a program lead and an executive coach in the Boston area.