Chandigarh resident, Varnika Kundu is known to many, as the girl who fought her attackers. She showed courage and fought her ‘influential’ stalkers inspiring others to fight against violence.
Varnika’s spoke up of the night she was stalked in her hometown. It is a story that a lot of women and young girls will relate to. Very bravely, she chose to take on her stalkers and used her presence of mind to call the police. However, Varnika’s fight is not over. The stalkers belong to influential political families and her battle to fight the pressure is likely to go on for a very long time.
As Varnika puts it, “We cannot let fear hold us back. We cannot be afraid anymore. That is exactly what gives the stalkers, the abusers, the harassers, who try and shame us, the power to do what they do. If the fear stops us from fighting for our own rights, then how can we ever hope to reclaim our own spaces?”
She has come forward as part of a campaign to work against gender-based violence (GBV) focusing on violence against women and girls (VAWG). #BasAbBahutHoGaya symbolises the end to tolerating violence and encourages everyone, especially the youth, to take action. Varnika says she would not have been able to fight such a powerful set-up if her family did not support her. Her mother expresses how many told her that nobody would marry Varnika since she was too ‘bold’.
No one asks a man why he is out late at night but casts aspersions on women who are out at night, which is what needs to change. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure a safer society for our women. We will not be able to achieve it if we don’t teach growing sons how to treat women, and simultaneously for daughters on how to fight for their respect.
Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India adds, “It is deeply saddening and regressive that the character of women who are out late at night is questioned. We need more women like Varnika but we definitely need more parents like hers who don’t just fight against violence but also against the stigma that society associates with victims and survivors. The fact that Varnika was subjected to political pressure apart from societal pressure points to the challenges that girls and women face even today across the country”.
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The CSR Journal Team