Human Rights Day: Delhi’s youngsters take part in activism against gender-based violence
“When I scored low in my exams, my parents asked me to drop out of school, and suggested me to take up household chores for future. But I was insistent upon continuing my studies. I would finish housework in the mornings, help my siblings with their studies in the evenings, and later study alone at night. I want to be a doctor when I grow up,” says Kashish Sharma, a 14-year-old from Sunlight Colony, Ashram.
Kashish is one of the 30 adolescents who participated in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, by the Australian High Commission in New Delhi. These youngsters from different parts of South Delhi’s economically backward colonies, recently attended a day long workshop organised by Sukhmanch Theatre, and based on the training, presented a street play the next day. “The play wasn’t prepared. It’s a performance that came out of the workshop, and the life experiences of these youngsters,” says Shilpi Marwaha from Sukhmanch Theatre, adding, “When I interacted with the youngsters, they told me about everything wrong that happens with them in their homes, and yet they don’t question it. That’s when we decided to weave in their true stories together as one play.”
Saniya Qureshi, 16, from Nizamuddin Basti railed out against the discrimination she suffers at home, while Naazneen Khan, 20, spoke about fighting all odds to pursue studies abroad. Numerous other accounts of gender-based discrimination were brought to light by the narratives of these youngsters.
Film and theatre actor Adil Hussain, who was present at the performance, said, “What these children performed reminded me of my very educated dad, who has passed away at the age of 92. One year before he died, I happened to meet him for the last time and he said that ‘Don’t you think I’m superior to your mom?’ I was surprised. I couldn’t be harsh to him, but said ‘What you have done, even mom could have done. But what mom has done for me, you can never do!”
Seeing the youngsters about their rights and duties, Chris Elstoft, deputy high commissioner, said, “Many of us at my age already have fixed views about the roles of men and women. So, engaging boys and girls is really important. As we see them interact, it can make us reflect on the fact that they can also influence their parents.”
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