How 'Lajja Diaries' is Giving a ray of Hope to Women Facing Abuse
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How You Thought Around Launching Lajja Diaries?
Post Nirbhaya rape case, I started thinking of launching a platform for women empowerment. In a developing country like India, the magnitude of women-related abuse is very large and we want to be the voice against that. There aren't many platforms like ours. The abuse against women is swept under the carpet in our country. It takes a long time for women to even realize that they are being abused.
How Have You Been Approaching This Issue?
I believe that for women 'silence is violence' and they need to speak out about all kind of abuses - physical, emotional, suppression, eve teasing etc.. If they start speaking to their close confidante, they will win half of the battle against abuse. That's the objective of Lajja Diaries. It is not their shame (Lajja), people who abuse them should be ashamed of the act.
So is the Impact Visible?
Yes, around 10,000 women have approached us with their stories. We author a lot of articles which deal with feminism and women empowerment. On our part, we have been collecting stories of anonymous women who have been abused. This has been our biggest impact. The community of such women who follow us has been created organically. Currently, we are a nonprofit initiative but would think of profitability in few years. I am ploughing back profits from my digital advertising agency - Di-Mentions Studios.
What About Their Rehabilitation?
We talk to these women and offer them counseling through psychologists whom we have partnered with. The biggest challenge is trying to change the mindset of these women. Some of them are not bothered about it, particularly women coming from lower middle class family. They got accustomed with the life they have with their husbands. We also run campaigns against sexism at the workplace, violence in relationship etc., to spread awareness. So Lajja Diaries has been growing through awareness. For instance, we ran a campaign called 'Dark and Lovely' around country's obsession with fair skin. We interacted with people to understand how they have been influenced by fair skin. Through this campaign, we tried to spread the message that dark skin is also beautiful and it doesn't define you as a person.
But Men too Must Be Educated About Gender Equality.
Absolutely, it is a two-way street. Men need to be more supportive to issues related to feminism. It is about gender equality instead of giving more rights to women. On the other hand, women need to be educated about their basic rights and men must understand that they need to give those rights to them.
Do You Also Support Women In Economic Independence?
The next phase of support would come by conducting skill-based workshops for women to ensure that they become economically independent. 90 per cent women in India suffer because they are dependent on their husbands. We will be coming up with skill-based programs, like a course in nursing, to empower women at least in tier two cities. We would be launching a 24x7 helpline for women facing any kind of abuse.
(This article was first published in the February issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)