“One Indian woman is raped every 20 minutes”
These figures were reported in Leslee Udwin’s “India’s Daughter” documentary, released on BBC 4, on March 4th, 2015. The film, described as “verging on the unwatchable” relates the facts of the 2012 violent New Delhi gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old therapy student.
After the documentary was banned in India, hundreds of women marched in the streets of Delhi, Bombay, and elsewhere in the country to protest against gender inequality’ injustice. But changing India is a challenge. A bad habit of considering women as submissive, useless and valueless human beings has been deeply ingrained in the society for too long. Raphael Patai says in Women in The Modern World : ‘ Since the Post-Vedic period, unbreakable shackles have been forged on women for countless generations’.More than 2000 years of ill-treatment, humiliation and disgrace … And women’ social status still hasn’t changed. Women are kept helpless in a prison guarded by men.
So, how are these shackles supposed to be broken? Are women ready to fight for their rights, no matter how hard the struggle will be? Will men understand that they should treat women as equal ? Will India change?
Insaniyat has the answer.Yesterday , I raised the same concerns during a deep conversation I had with my friend Arjun Meghe, leader and promoter of Insaniyat association.He agreed that bringing social changes into India was a challenge for him and all of his colleagues, also members of the group. But he promised to do anything he could to give women a voice in society.’It will take time, but someone has to start’, he said. And with the same courage and determination, Arjun and a dozen of his friends gave birth to Insaniyat.The story begins with a couple of drinks, and a debate around Narenda Modi’s speech on India’s economic situation. After a while, the boys realised heavy economic changes weren’t enough for the country to change as a whole. Then, the idea of a social revolution came up. The youngsters passionately believed they could eradicate the social dogmas holding Indians behind.They wanted to abolish gender inequality and bring unity into India.
This is how Insaniyat was created. The pseudonym of “Maa-Behen” was used as a second name. Arjun explained that ‘Maa-Behen’ (mother and sister) was considered a rude word and therefore used to shock Indians. It is a message to remind every single man that they should respect every woman as they respect their own mother and sisters.
“Indian people are very touchy, I want to hit people with emotions. I know by fact that women are being abused every day. They can no longer be victims of men’s abuses. They have to stand up and fight”.
Insaniyat invites women of any age to gather in public places (outside Railway stations, in High schools and Colleges) and teach them the best self-defense techniques.Fighting sessions are organized daily in four different areas of the city. Arjun’s father, Datta Meghe, retired MP, financed the project and enabled Insaniyat to get in contact with Indian celebrities, namely Bollywood actor Akhil Khapur. Akhil owns Indian Fight Factory, a renowned martial arts group in Bombay. IFF trains Bollywood actors and actresses as well as young women. Akhil and Arjun master Brazilian jiu jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts and their technique is mostly influenced by Kravmagah and Jiu Jitsu.
Insaniyat also has a mission. They want to develop India and teach individuals the real value of education, applied to their own working field.
And as Arjun’s ambitions grow, his respect for women will always stay the same:
“I lived with my mother and my sisters for all my life, and I find it incredible how much they can influence and shape the person you are”.
During a conference for The International Women’s Day hosted in Brunel University, I was also touched and motivated by the words of a guest speaking on how inspirational women can be.