On a mission to change society
The name may sound like an expletive, but the founders of Project Maa Behen, two Bachelor of Mass Media students from KJ Somaiya College in Ghatkopar, claim that their campaign is meant to erase the twisted meaning attached to the two Hindi words.
"While these words have come to be associated with slang, the words describe two most important women (mother and sister) in our lives. The aim of this campaign is to restore the dignity of women and change the attitude of men toward them," said Omkar Phatak, a second year BMM student, who along with a classmate Prasad Naik, conceptualised the month-long campaign during their summer vacation this year.
"It is really sad to hear about the increasing cases of violence against women, and we don't want Mumbai to head the Delhi way," said Phatak, referring to the capital's notorious image of being unsafe for women. "We decided to do this campaign to spread awareness, and recent incidents such as the molestation case in Guwahati and the murder of a young lawyer in the city only triggered us further. We also received complete support from the faculty," he said.
Since August 2, about 20 students from the second year course have taken to the streets in areas such as Ghatkopar, Dadar, Bandra, Mulund and Chembur to create awareness about women's safety.
On the occasion of Raksha Bandhan, the group conducted an event titled 'Be a Brother', requesting every boy to be a guardian to a girl in their lives. This was followed by a one-man campaign, 'Make a Move', where individual students visited different areas between August 5 and 9 holding placards with messages such as 'Society says "Don't get raped". I say "Don't Rape"!' and 'Stop Violence. Respect Women'.
On August 17, the students conducted a silent rally called 'Break the Silence' campaign, urging women to speak up about their problems. And to make a point, they had taped small paper cuttings inscribed with messages to their mouths.
The students are delighted with the response that the campaign has received. "Several students and teachers have requested us to keep the campaign going through the year," said Phatak.
Over the next few days, the group will put up a street play and will end the campaign on September 2.