COMING OUT OF THE SHADOW OF THE PERPETRATOR
(An awareness programme conducted by Dr M. L. Dhawale Memorial Homeopathic Institute, Palghar, on the occasion of International Women’s Day)
– Dr Devyani Deshmukh
PG Student, Dept. of Paediatrics,
Dr M. L. Dhawale Memorial Homoeopathic Institute, Palghar
यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता: ।
यत्रैतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफला: क्रिया: ।
(“Where women are honoured, divinity blossoms there, and where women are not honoured, all actions, no matter how noble, remain unfruitful.”)
Women’s day is a celebration of respect, appreciation, love, and care towards women. This day is celebrated in colleges and schools across the country to spread knowledge and awareness of women empowerment, their position and achievements in today’s society. The purpose of the function is to instil respect and care for women in young minds. Usually, a few speeches are delivered and some successful women are praised. Does this fulfil the purpose of the celebration? No, the perspective of looking at women remains the same. The mode of celebration of women’s day has to be exceptional, out of the box, to make an impact. This out-of-the-box activity was conducted by Dr Ajith Kumar (Principal, St. John’s College of Engineering & Management, Palghar) with the purpose of making the young male students understand the consequences of their actions in this gender-biased society.
A team from MLDMHI was invited to present a skit; the invitation was accepted as an opportunity for PG residents to address a very sensitive & demanding topic which can bring about a change in action at the mass level.
The topic of presentation was challenging, with its own depth. The team was confused with what content should be added & what should not; this is when your supervisors guide you on the right path. Dr Sunita Nikumbh, Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, suggested to us an article published in the Times of India related to the topic, which allowed us to realise the gravity & sensitivity of the matter at hand. A skit is like a mirror, a reflection of the society; hence the challenge was to deliver it very sensitively & effectively. The soul of any skit is its script, which was written by Dr Devyani Deshmukh, MD Paeds. (Part II) & Dr Manasi Shinde, MD Paeds. (Part I), & was discussed with Dr Sunita Nikumbh, who provided valuable inputs, handled the sensibility aspect of the skit, and made the team aware of the sharpness of the topic & the kind of impact it can have on young minds.
MEETING WITH THE MASTERMIND OF THE TOPIC
Dr Ajit Kumar (Principal, St. John’s College of Engineering & Management, Palghar) welcomed warmly & appreciated them for practising Homoeopathy. He also shared his interest & strong belief in Homoeopathy. He was keen to know the various activities carried out by the MLDMHI. The team shared the vision of the MLDMHI: “SERVING HUMANITY THROUGH HOMOEOPATHY”. Dr Sunita described our different projects including the Alcohol De-addiction programme, Malnutrition project, Geriatric care activities, and Mother & Child project. He was highly impressed & was curious to know the reason behind our social outreach programmes like skits; he also asked if the team has presented elsewhere previously. He was surprised when the team shared their experiences of previous performances at various places like the District Collector’s office and the railway station, on different social issues such as human trafficking, awareness about organ donation, and importance of women empowerment. Out of curiosity, he asked the team about their funding resources, an unexpected question for the students. The MLDMHI has taught its students to be involved in social awareness activities with whatever resources that they had at their disposal, without expecting external help. This added to the high regard that Dr Ajit has towards the MLDMHI & the team. The meeting was followed by a presentation.
Mrs. Upma Paliwal, a faculty member from St. John College, was the mediator for this meeting and the entire programme, and helped us to reach our objectives.
OBJECTIVES OF THE SKIT:
- Addressing a group of young adult men about how to respect the opposite sex.
- Demonstrating some of the common issues faced by young women from various walks of life.
- Persuading them to realize the responsibility of every stakeholders of the community towards building & endorsing equality between the sexes.
- Learning the new mode of living by being a PERPETRATOR of good actions
FINAL DAY (09/03/2019)
POPULATION ADDRESSED- Total audience 200+, of varied age groups including teenagers – students of engineering, pharmacy, commerce, 30+ faculty members of St. Johns from different streams (pharmacy, engineering, commerce)
TEAM – Dr Devyani Deshmukh, Dr Manasi Shinde, Dr Rishikesh Desai, Dr Deepali Naik, Dr Raja Mishra, Dr Anuj Sathe, and Dr Rasika (PG students)
Co-ordinators – Dr Jitesh Thakur, Medical Officer, Rural Homoeopathic Hospital (RHH), Palghar
Supervisor – Dr Sunita Nikumbh, Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, MLDMHI
Dr Sunita introduced the team to the audience & gave a general introduction about the topic, which built their curiosity.
The prologue of the skit was presented by Dr Manasi.
The skit revolved around 4 plots; there was a narration before each plot. The team had anticipated that the male teen audience might not take interest in this frequently avoided topic & the team might not achieving their purpose. Unexpectedly, the audience was overwhelmed after the performance.
SUMMARY OF EACH PLOT:
1ST – DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – Domestic violence in a well-educated family. The dilemma of a male child of what is right, what is wrong, and how one should treat women. A question arose whether this is a common behaviour in all families, and this led us to the next plot.
2ND – GENDER BIASED ATTITUDE – in the school of the above-mentioned child, one girl wins the maximum prizes & faces teasing instead of appreciation by her male co-students. The child is further confused – is this how women should be treated?
3RD – EVE-TEASING & BODY SHAMING– a college-going girl, wearing a modern outfit, walking down a street, minding her own business, faces molestation due to her apparel. The plot revolved around the mental trauma the incidence caused the girl. To add to her misery, the girl’s mother blamed her for inviting molestation due to her outfit. Thereby, the mother indirectly stood against her daughter & promoted the molesters.
4TH – SEXUAL ASSAULT – a young fresher female employee earns a job, fighting hard, against her financial odds & her need to continue working in the face of the sexual harassment she endured at her work place. The key point of this plot was how one of her male colleagues with the right upbringing and sound morals saves her.
With each succeeding plot, the crowd’s curiosity & seriousness increased. The peak was reached during the plot of sexual assault where they felt that the actors on the stage were actually going to hit each other. The acting skills and intense expressions of Dr Rishikesh & Dr Raja were really commendable here. The audience were left awe-struck & their pin-drop silence attested to how engaging the performance was; their appreciation became tangible only after a span of 30 sec, in the form of loud & long applause.
It was now time to see how effective the performance was & that was by talking to the people. This segment was conducted by Dr Sunita & Dr Jitesh, wherein they asked the people what they thought was the take-home message for the day. They received answers that reflected that the team had successfully got the message across. The skit served its purpose well: it got people talking. They came up with ideas like the need to bring about a change in the upbringing of boys & that the change needs to start right from the roots, which includes every parent giving birth to a child & bringing them up regardless of their gender with equal opportunity to both. Adding to this, Dr Sunita made a valid point about social quotient.
Before the performance, no one was aware of the literal meaning of the word PERPETRATOR. After the performance, they understood it well; they also realised the responsibility of each individual towards such sensitive issues. The team received feedbacks stating that more of such skits should be performed & should address a larger mass of people. It clearly reflected that our society is up for the change. All we need to do is stand up & endorse it strongly on every possible occasion. It made the team feel that the painstaking efforts they put in the execution of this skit were totally worthwhile.
In the quest of becoming a developed nation, there are a large number of issues that need to be addressed, one of the most important being gender equality. Gender is often misrepresented as pertaining only to women. It is important to create awareness that society creates gender norms and stereotypes. Gender stereotypes impact all of us, most of all affect women. Breaking barriers requires bold steps by both women and men, paving way for an enabling environment. Through knowledge, skills and leadership development of girls and women, we can build a resilient, empowered, and motivated generation. Such a generation will have high aspirations for the self and a commitment to gender equality. Engaging with men is equally important which will help in creating an enabling environment for an equitable society. It’s the moral responsibility of every father, every brother, and every boss in the office, to empower women & to grant them equal opportunity in every walk of life. They should know & feel that THIS IS THEIR ISSUE TOO & that their contribution to this issue is of importance. The MLDMHI team happily returned with the thought that they took a step towards completing their social responsibility to address this issue & hoped that this attempt would be successful.