In order to create awareness about sexual harassment and violence at the workplace, we facilitated 15  group interactions across different locations in Delhi. One of the sessions I attended was at Shankar Camp in Vasant Kunj with domestic workers. I was eagerly looking forward to participating in this session and interacting with the community as it was the first time I was interacting with them  directly.

It was an enriching experience for me as it enabled me to understand how women who belong to different sections of the society deal with sexual harassment and  gender-based violence. They shared their experiences and  expectations from the law. The narrative caught my attention and enabled me to ponder over the questions and concerns they raised. The women highlighted the lack of awareness about the redressal process and how they can fight for their rights. It gave me an insight into the challenges women face every day and how different sections of the society perceive gender-based violence. I had the opportunity to interact with the group of enthusiastic women who belonged to a wide age group and  migrated from villages in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh along with their families in search of employment opportunities in Delhi. Around 30-35 women took part in the interactive meetings.

I was able to have a discussion with them after the session where they shared their experiences of violence and sexual harassment. I was able to understand the inter-linkages between caste and poverty with gender-based violence and harassment. One of the participants also shared how power dynamics play an important role. She highlighted how she strongly believes the law and police officers favour the rich and privileged and thus they feel it’s pointless  approaching them. Another woman shared how the lack of awareness amongst the community is a big problem as they don’t know whom to approach and what to do. She also said how domestic violence at home is also a big problem that often gets ignored. On my way back, I could reflect upon various challenges and how different communities deal with sexual harassment and violence. The session further reinforced my passion to work around gender-based issues and creating awareness on gender-based violence.

Another session that I had the opportunity to attend was a talk organised in Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University focused on Ending Violence and Harassment in the World of Work. The speakers emphasised the need to include  men in discussions related to gender equality and  encouraged women to raise their voice. The speakers also highlighted the legal reforms that exist. The talk was an engaging session as it helped me understand the role  civil society organisations and NGOs play in advocating for women’s rights in Delhi.  I was able to interact with the students, teachers, social activists and staff union members who shared problems related to  sexual harassment and violence in the university spaces. It was thought provoking to hear different perspectives on women’s rights issues and interact with them.

Overall it was a good learning experience for me to interact with different sections of the society and learn about their experiences. It opened my eyes and enabled me to think about the challenges women face every day.

Tarana Faroqi