BY SARA SUGAR
Bell Bajao is a series of print, radio and television advertisements produced by global human rights organization Breakthrough, as part of a three-year commitment of the Clinton Global Initiative to end violence against women in India. Breakthrough uses popular culture to mobilize individuals to fight back against human injustices and Bell Bajao is spreading awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence, the societal beliefs surrounding it, and specifically what men are able to do to help end it.
According to Trustlaw, a legal news service run by Thomsom Reuters Foundation, India ranks as one of the world’s five most dangerous countries for women. A poll, conducted by Trustlaw, asked 213 gender experts to rank countries on their overall perception of danger and on six specific risks: health threats, sexual violence, non-sexual violence, cultural or religious factors, lack of access to resources and trafficking. Following Afghanistan, Congo and Pakistan, India was polled as the fourth most dangerous country for women, ranking just one place above Somalia. According to Bell Bajao, more than two-thirds of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 have experience domestic violence, with as much as 40 percent of women and men in India believing that it is at least sometimes justifiable for women to be beaten by their husbands, as well as, 35 percent of women experience domestic violence. But Bell Bajao is working to rewrite these statistics.
Through the use of the Internet, social media, celebrity endorsements and training toolkits, Bell Bajao is calling on men and boys to help put an end to violence aimed at women. Through a series of print, radio and television advertisements that encourage men to step in and help stop violence against women, the Bell Bajao campaign has reached over 130 million people across India and went global in 2010.
The campaign stresses the importance and emphasizes the positive effects that men can have towards ending domestic violence. Bell Bajao, which translates as “ring the bell” in Hindi, is encouraging men to do just that. It uses an education-centric campaign that teaches how to safely speak up against domestic violence, men are seeing that by physically ringing the bell or knocking on the front door where they believe domestic violence is taking place, they are able to interrupt domestic violence and very often save a life.
This year, November 25 through December 10, marks the 2011 Center for Women’s Global Leadership’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign. The campaign, which starts on International Day Against Violence Against Women (November 25), and ends on International Human Rights Day (December 10), is used as a mobilizing tool for organizations and individuals to speak up against violence aimed at women and to advocate for its elimination. Contributing this year, Bell Bajao is holding the campaign’s first-ever fiction (re)writing competition, #Rewrite the Ending.
Everyone has wanted to change the ending of a book, play or movie at some point in their lives, and now’s your chance! Here’s the opportunity to re-write the violent, sexist, misogynistic ending of a novel, play, movie, or anything that spurs your creative juices and inflames your feminist consciousness! Visit the Bell Bajao website at www.bellbajao.org for additional information. The Contest ends November 21 so get writing, and with Bell Bajao, help rewrite the lives of women affected by domestic violence every day.