The Kamala centre is now six months old. Today over 120 children attend after school primary and secondary classes and over 50 women come for stitching and beauty classes. We intend to begin hygiene and nutrition workshops and even address some of the issues that plague urban slum women. Looks great and makes all the criteria needed to attract kudos and possible funds. However I am still not satisfied as I have been feeling that the real spirit seems lost in translation!
A recent news item and the accompanying visuals shook me out of the comfort zone I was inadvertently sinking in. A rape victim was brutalised by the rapist's family and neighborhood and aspersions were cast on her character. She was called a drunk and that simple comment gave an uncaring society license to kill.
Just as in the past the so called law protectors made the needed noise and yet know that the noise will die and nothing will happen. We did try very hard to take up the cudgels for our dear Ghaziabad girls but the adversary was too strong and in spite of our best efforts we lost track of them. I pray that they are safe. Apologies for this digression but somehow it was necessary to jolt myself out of the dreaded comfort zone and rekindle the spirit of the woman centre.
True that sewing and beauty classes are great opportunities to empower women but they should actually simply be viewed as a mean to an end. The Kamala Centre is first of all a place where women rejected by society can find a refuge and the strength to rebuild their lives and walk in society their head held high. But more than that it is a forum where women need to learn to respect other women and stand by them no matter what their past may be. In yesterday's incident it is women who beat the poor soul. In homes it is the mother in law that terrorises and ill treats her daughter in law. Crimes against women are too often perpetrated by women.
And therein should lie the spirit of the women centre. It has to teach women to turn the mirror towards themselves and look at reality. It has to free them of the shackles of mores and traditions and take charge of their lives and stand up for what is right. I know it is a difficult task and may look completely impossible at first. But here again we need to apply the simple resolve that made me move from a state of inactivity and ideals, to one of action and ideas: if you can change one life it would be worth it.
So to put in place the missing link and revive the soul of the women centre one has to change the attitude of one women. The rest will follow.
Labels: women centre