It is our last night in Sylhet and I have had a really great time. I have been able to get more deeply engaged with the community as we have done a lot more work in the field and actually on the ground which has been useful in so many ways. The best way is to just get out there and explore sometimes.
Our activity for the day centred around something I had been looking forward to since I saw the timetable for the week. We were asked to design and implement a social action campaign around the issue of Eve teasing, all planned and delivered in one day. It’s a term I hadn’t heard of before but basically it means when a women is harassed when she walks past, whether through heckles, whistling, etc. We had 45 minutes and limited resources to come up with a campaign which we would do at the local university and were split into two groups.
My group worked very well, a mix of volunteers from Sri Lanka, UK, Bangladesh and we got going very quickly. The local active citizens were able to inform us of what the issues were and we came to an agreement. Our campaign was to do a small ‘flash mob’ style street play showing what eve teasing is – a woman being followed and harassed, then showing her fighting back and standing up for herself. Then we would start a chant of “This is not okay, we won’t walk away” and people would join in with placards and protest banners to create an interesting scene and hopefully make people curious. This would be followed by a game showing how it feels to be in such a situation with the roles reversed, showing men what it is like to be the victim – 3 males would be on the inside of a circle and try to break out (without using physical contact) and everybody on the outside would try and keep them in by keeping their arms linked. After the game finished, we discussed how the people on the inside felt, usually saying things like it was frustrating, very difficult task to do, and on the outside people said they felt like they wanted to help, and so on. It was a pretty simple game and the aim was to get everyone thinking about what role they could play, and what power they had as individuals.
The reception both our campaigns had was incredible. We reached and spoke to at least 300 students between the two of us and the students were really very willing to get involved and as you can see below, women, men and children were all very curious to find out what was going on and more and more people joined in as we went along. Some were so keen that we even got a few to join in our social action for the day and helped us even though we had just met.
One thing I see as I travel is that there is never a helping hard too far out of reach.