In the streets of Pune we all try to focus on our aims without letting the street distract us, but here is a man lying on the road. All the cars are passing by him, overlooking, as if he were a pile of trash that one needs to avoid. Did you ever see him? And here is the girl at the junction.She usually performs tricks with her tiny fragile body, which I can’t even imagine myself doing, all for a few rupees. Who trained her for a life like this? Who protects her? Here is a young boy knocking at my car window, wanting to sell plastic toys. Who labors a child of that age in such a dangerous place, a bustling street in Pune?
 
These experiences in Pune are frustrating and sad. Why do people have to live like that?
 
And now I am at my home. And even here next to me, the maid of the house tells me how her drunken husband beats her, takes her money and how his family abuses her. Even here I can do nothing… This is not a sudden meeting with somebody; she is here to help me and my family. Yes for a salary, but the essence is she is a meaningful person for me.And she is not alone. Her story is so generic that it probably sounds familiar to every person living in Pune. 
 
Coming from another country, I never heard that in India the problem of neglecting women and adopting such norms of violence is so prevalent. Such norms that enable people to become blind to the enormous phenomena of discrimination and violence towards women in Indian society.
 
I wonder what happened… Looking at the past and exploring it, is interesting and is probably something I will keep on doing, but at the same time, I am intrigued to look at present times, and try to find key actions to reduce and ultimately block these kinds of social norms. So when they happen, people will be shocked or amazed or feel it is fundamentally so wrong that they cannot close their eyes. They will stop and ask – what can WE do? What should WE do?As individuals, we feel helpless or powerless, but as a group we are powerful.  
 
So, I’ve learnt to appreciate organizations which believe in what they are doing. And I joined ECF. I feel I am not alone now. And I am lucky to have a clear opportunity to do something, but I hope more and more people will become critical about violence, and want to join their voices against it. Are you going to?
Danit Shaham
Program Director | Equal Community Foundation