Gender responsiveness is a major challenge especially in ascertaining Gender Based Violence. Understanding what constitutes GBV also varies as there are different interpretations of the concept of gender as well as violence. Both genders can be the targets of Gender-Based violence, however, women and girls are the most vulnerable. The issue of GBV is multifaceted that could address different socio-economic realities, enterprises, and forms of violence. It becomes even more essential in a developing country like India, where a vast multitude of problems revolves around the various forms of discrimination based on gendered approaches. With the increase in violence over the last few decades, it becomes increasingly significant to address these issues and root them out from the society. Globally, CARE aims to support women’s economic empowerment through the promotion of dignified work. In Asia, CARE’s Dignified Work — Impact Growth Strategy (DW-IGS) aims to tackle major global injustices where CARE can achieve impact at scale by working across multiple countries with the shared theory of change.

Today the major population of our country consists of Youth whose voices and support to various social movements in the country have helped achieve radical transformations. Enclosed alongside these is the work of 7 budding poets who through their artistic representation unravel the dark truth of gender-based violence and its after-effects. So, sit back with a cup of coffee to gulp down the harsh realities of our society.

Illustrations: Ayesha Priyadarshini Mohanty & Maitreyi Mehndiratta

Fallen Angels

The streetlights flash neon lights
Blazing fire with the sirens,
Lines of hooting you will pass by
Lads of all shapes, sizes and color;
The leather belts tight around the waist
You will find them fishing out the best,
In between the cigar light that touches their lips
Giggling in sweet melancholy of the partner high o’er seas.

And those very eyes that tread through my shadow’s skin
The dreams they gave her to soar
Only to rip her wings and watch her fall.

Soon he embraces the fire with paper
A fatherless child I pray
To life, death and all in between
Clutching my fears between my teeth

My mind and body tremble
With the blood that is spread on the sheets,
“My work: No Work” the babus claim:
Tie my mouth with a black cloth and a weighing scale.

The monster in the albums that is now me
The mirror even can’t recognize
Pushed through the busy streets into the cities ugly truth
The slum is where my life now dwells
A faraway land is all I can dream about,
Where under the casket of stars lives like mine might matter?

– Ayesha Priyadarshini Mohanty

Friendship with Blue

Blue color was my favorite.
When I was 6 years old,
my mother brought me blue balloons
So, when she jumped into the blue river,
the blue sky became my friend.
It would turn darker every hour
And so, did my life after a blue start.

The color my stepfather wore was the blue one,
When he first time asked me to blow him
To buy me a blue bicycle.
Blue was the color he would give me always,

Sometimes on me thigs,
Other times on my eyes.
He would come drunk at 3 in the morning,
Only to show how blue my life can be.

He wouldn’t buy me the blue pants for the uniform
But the blue shirts were replaced every night,
Blue is what I see when I close my eyes,
For blue becomes my identity,
I fear blue the most.

– Yashi Verma

A Happy Concept

No one has asked me to ‘chill’
Or labelled me aggressive when I assert a point
I am wearing jeans that I threw at the back of the cupboard for days I feel thinner
The girl I share a cab with doesn’t send cab details to some known
A stare is reduced to mere acknowledgment and is not intruding my personal space
I breathe regularly without being occasionally conscious of my heaving chest
Everyone acknowledges that women wear bras and I don’t feel the panic to cover up when a strap shows
We no longer raise insecure young girls
The only thing I did on Monday was baking cookies
And rest of the days I run the world
No one smudges guilt on me for doing either
I don’t choose to be free
Because freedom is no longer something we need to fight for.

– Aishwarya Shrivastava

Hues of the Room

Yet again,
I find myself amidst boys and girls my age,
Holding onto the same expression, the same face,
The same confused, ignorant, defensive gaze.
Mighty words are exchanged once more,
Ideals of humanity, equality, and change in attitudes are debated extensively,
There are debates on the system too.
And amidst all this talk,
I find myself uncomfortably quiet.
I find myself motionless, powerless.
I have lost my voice screaming for the same causes,
My words have worn out from over-use,
And my arms are too exhausted to hold up another sign demanding equal rights.
They tell me if I raise my voice I’ll become a part of the solution, rather than the problem.
That my silence is equal to violence, that it’s part of what’s wrong.
But what they don’t see, are the ones whose voices have gone coarse from repeating the same stale words over and over again,
Like a prayer, like a spell, just hoping for the words to come true.
Those whose voices have been deemed inconsequential one too many times,
Those who did their bit and more, but never saw the change they worked towards.
So, once more, I find myself in the same room,
Amidst these people desperately trying to be part of the solution,
And I, find myself, much like my voice,
turning into the color
of the wallpaper.

– Esha Chauhan

Born to Die

When parents hear a newborn girl’s cry,
they say she is born to die.
In her mother’s womb, a girl thought,
When I come to this world,
I will do a lot.
I shall be committed to my life,
I promise I shall be a good daughter, mom, and wife.
Let me be born, give me the privilege to be a mom.
Let me know what it is like to live,
The only happiness I shall always give.
A girl has innumerable roles,
She has the wisdom,
but not the opportunities to achieve all her goals.
Her dreams touch the sky,

but even before she could open her eye,
the devil in a human lets her die.

– Maitreyi Mehndiratta


The sequined lehenga to match the bangles on her wrist
The hands adorned with henna walking the aisle tonight
“Purity and perfection”, the stranger asserts;
With hope and strength, she awaits her new life
The vermillion on the forehead signifies the sacred
And the beads around the neck showered her love,
Tonight, the bride has crossed the threshold
Leaving the darkness of yesteryears to be replaced with light.

The color of her body now from the wounds that run deep
The bangles etched into her skin like the shackles of the cell
The nail on her forehead that has become her new vermilion
The rope replaces the gold killing her slowly
But how can she fight when her body and mind is numb
The scars of love that cannot be undone
She breathes in air, but she is lifeless
Bearing the burden of the wedding ring for other sake
“She is one of many survivors”, they say;
But she cries in the dark with no one to solace.

– Jhalak Srivastava

उसकी क्या गलती थी?

हसने खेलने की उम्र थी उसकी इस दुनिया से वह अनजान थी,
गुड्डे गुड़िया के साथ खेला करती अपने माँ बाप की नन्ही सी वह जान थी,
नन्ही सी वह जान अँधेरे से डरा करती थी,
कोई तोह बतादे मुझे उसकी क्या गलती थी?

वह नन्ही सी जान हुई हैवानियत का शिकार,
इंसान के बेष मई जानवर करता रहा उसके जिस्म पर प्रहार,
कांच, मोहबत्ती यह थे उसके बड़े हथियार,
जिनसे करता रहा वह निर्दयी पर वॉर
इतनी हवस उस जानवर मई न जाने कहाँ से आई होगी?
एक मासूम की ज़िन्दगी से खेलते हुए क्या उसको दया न आई होगी?
खुद को इस कदर गिरकर ना जाने उसने कौनसी उपाधि पाई होगी?
कोई तोह बतादे मुझे उसकी क्या गलती थी?

क्या हर पल यह खौफ हैवानियत का सटेगा?
क्या हम लड़कियों की ज़िन्दगी मई थोड़ा सारा आएगा?
या यूँही हमेशा हमें अपने आंसुओं को पीना पड़ेगा
और इस दुनिया के हैवानो का शिकार होना पड़ेगा?
क्या बीती होगी उन माँ – बाप पर जिनके घर को वह लक्ष्मी बनके आई थी
कोई तोह बतादे मुझे उसकी क्या गलती थी?

१६ दिसंबर की रात भी आयी थी,
जब कुछ भेड़ियों ने एक लड़की को नूच खाई थी,
उस वक़्त तोह जैसे पूरा देश हे था बोल रहा,
युवाओ के जिसमे मई जैसे लहू खोल रहा,
कुछ वक़्त बाद क्यों हो जाती हैं यह आवाज़े खामोश सी

इस कहानी को सुनके सबके आंसू चालक जाते हों,
फिर भी यह दुनिया वाले हमेशा लड़की को ही गलत ठहराते हैं,
क्या इस बार भी वह लड़की ही दोषी मानी जाएगी?
उसकी हर आह उसे ही गुनेगार ठहराएगी?
शायद इसीलिए हर लड़की अपने आसूं पिया करती थी
कोई तोह बतादे मुझे उसकी क्या गलती थी?

क्या बदला इतने सालों मई
यह हम सबने भी देखा है,
ऐसी कितनी है आबरुओं को हैवानो ने बलि चादर फैका है,
क्या मिल पाएगा इन्साफ कभ यह सार तड़पती रूहे प्पूचति हैं,
जब जब बेटी की तस्वीर दिखे उसके परिवार की आँखे उस दर्द से जूझती हैं,
क्या यह वोही देश है जिसकी इंसानियत की दुनिया बधाइयां करती थी
कोई तोह बतादे मुझे उस मासूम की क्या गलती थी?

Ayesha Priyadarshini Mohanty, Intern