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Ring bell, curb domestic violence

mumbai Updated: May 05, 2010 02:02 IST
Mansi Sheth
Mansi Sheth
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

In the coming weeks, don’t be surprised to see a white van with pictures of actor Boman Irani next to the slogan ‘Bell Bajao!’ parked in your neighbourhood. If you choose to walk up to it, you’ll pick up a few tips to curb domestic violence.

The video vans are part the second edition of ‘Bell Bajao!’, an awareness campaign launched by the NGO Breakthrough in 2008 to encourage people to literally ring the doorbell of a house where they know a woman is being abused.

“The vans are an attempt to engage the public in a dialogue on domestic violence, a topic that nobody wants to acknowledge,” said Sonali Khan, communications director, Breakthrough, at a press conference on Tuesday.

The multimedia campaign, created pro bono by Ogilvy & Mather, employs novel ways of spreading the message through street plays, quizzes and games via video vans travelling across the city from May 4 to May 18.

The campaign marks Breakthrough’s tenth anniversary. “This [‘Bell Bajao!’] is an innovative way to reach out to a group of people who would otherwise feel threatened with this message,” said theatre actor Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, who is supporting the campaign.

Partnering with organizations such as Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA), Akshara and Point of View, the campaign hopes to involve men and the youth. “It is important for men and women to be partners to end this violence,” said Mallika Dutt, Breakthrough’s executive director.

However, it is difficult to draw the line between a private and public matter. Often, neighbours are unwilling to interfere. “It [‘Bell Bajao!’] is trying to break the barrier. It’s trying to intervene into what is seen as a personal issue,” said Harish Sadani, honorary secretary of MAVA.

The campaign also aims at raising awareness of the Women’s helpline— 1298, which was launched in January 2008 by city Sheriff Indu Shahani.