“Break the Silence.” “Stop Violence Towards Women.” “Rape is Wrong.” Just a few of the slogans the Softchoice Cares team were asked to paint across the walls of Poprada Village homes.
Theese are messages that Jatan is working to bring to all of the villages in the Rajasthan District as part of its larger initiative to ensure change in the status of women in their society. And as we walked through the door to the women’s Gender Panchayat Resource Center meeting, we hear Jatan’s Yashodhara Bai and Manju Dwi passionately speak with the women in their local dialect. Her message is clear: there’s an election coming up and it’s imperative that every woman votes to ensure she has her say in what goes on in her local community.
At the meeting, we learn that there are a large number of small villages in the Rajasthan district where many women experience violence at the hands of men as well as their own communities. We hear about how many rapes go unreported because it is seen as a reflection on the honor of the victim. We learn of incidents where women are condemned and punished by their communities for crimes that they may or may not have committed.
After listening to the issues that these women face, they turn to us and ask a question that causes us to pause…Do we experience violence against women in North America?
As much as we would like to have said no, the truth is, violence against women happens all over the world. The difference is, most North American women have a world of knowledge at their fingertips. They understand what their rights are, have many different avenues for support and for the most part, support of their communities.
Here, it’s a very different experience. Many of these women don’t know the world outside their own small village. But with support from Jatan and Softchoice, the positive impact that technology will have on their situation is clear. The women will now have access to information that will give them the power to stand up and help influence change; access to the constitution, access to a full understanding of their rights; access to images and information on women in other parts of the world – and to the possibilities of a different life.
So as we wrote the slogans on the walls of the village, it’s our hope that this will drive people to learn more and to use the technology we have brought to help increase knowledge. And while the words we wrote that day are in English, we hope they will create curiosity and encourage questions and conversations to create change on violence against women in their community.