By Ekta Kapoor:
“It’s a simple number game I tell you, there are three of them but only you to protect her, so the wisest thing would be to back off and pretend nothing ever happened”.
When was the last time you decided to ignore a girl being cat called on a street because it wasn’t your business or she wasn’t someone you know? When was the last time you did not stop someone from getting molested because you were too intimidated to speak up? It could have been someone you loved. It could have been you. Would you still rationalize it?
It was this agitation of not having done enough that sparked a desire to create a novel approach to deal with the problem at hand. “On brainstorming we decided to take eve-teasing and sexual harassment in public places head on not only because there was a lot of passiveness associated with it but also because it was relatable to all of us. The quotidian nature of eve-teasing makes us susceptible to it- either as bystanders or as victims” quips in one of one of the five brains behind the campaign.
So what is this novel approach?
The Taali Bajaao Campaign is an initiative to tackle passive bystander response to harassment. Started by Mugdha Jain, Ekta Kapoor, Hoshank Ailani, Ayush Bhattacharya and Akash Idnani of Shiv Nadar University, this campaign provides a fresh approach to tackling this recurrent problem.
“The intention was to come up with a non-violent approach to tell the harasser that his behaviour is unacceptable and that he should back off. We wanted a means to catch the crowd’s attention and their support, and the “taali” or clap was thought of as an action to warn the perpetrator. And thus, the Taali Bajaao Campaign was conceived”, says Mugdha. “One is quick to realize that such a campaign needs to get to as many people, one person clapping in a crowd hardly makes a difference,” quips Hoshank.
The campaign is online and targets youth from 18-25 years as they are highly likely to be bystanders in such situations. Social Media has been the best thing that has happened in terms of giving people of all ages, across countries, a platform to voice themselves. In a sea of social campaigns that feature in the media day in and day out, in a crowd where everybody wants to say something, how do you make sure your voice is heard? “To make the campaign quirky and a trend we started with dubsmashes to highlight the role of Bollywood in promoting eve teasing and sexist comments in one way or the other,” explains Ayush. “It moved on to Terribly Tiny Tales- two liners that cleverly communicate a story. We used this idea to come up with the Taali Bajaao Tales, which is a quirky way of getting people to express their views on eve teasing in an impactful way. Posters and memes rounded up our online campaign content,” he adds. The team made use of the dramatics society in their university to put up a street play showcasing common ways a woman may get harassed and how the taali can be used to shame the perpetrator. They also had several group discussions at every point in their campaign to gauge the public’s mindset and track how effective the campaign was.
With a reach of more than 15,000 people in a matter of two weeks, this campaign has started gaining a lot of support from people and newspapers. What is it that these young people dream of achieving through the campaign? “Our dream is a simple one,” smiles Akash, “This initiative is a step in the direction of giving bystanders a voice so that when one person claps to make a difference, millions resound.”