Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bell Bajao! Ring The Bell Interview

Interviewers: Bulbul Mukherjee and Katie McDonough.

How did the project start?

Well, the need to do something was obvious. Statistic numbers were talking for themselves.*
The biggest challenge was not only to help protecting women, but also to tell people that domestic
violence is not OK, it's not a privet business of every family. It is wild. We definitely needed to take some actions about it.

What action are you taking to help women?

First of all, our project is oriented mostly on men and boys. We want to educate them, because they are
an integral and very significant part of violent situations happening at home. We want men to be involved in this to prevent violence not to create it.
We also create supporting trainings for women.

What is the biggest challenge to achieve your goals?

Cultural stereotypes, no doubt. Many people truly believe that being abused is a normal part of everyday life.

What kind of trainings? Can victims of domestic violence find any help there?

Yes, sure. During our training we teach men and women about human rights. The rights of freedom and the right on health. The importance of every single human personality and there is always a way to solve any problem without physical violence.
We also educate men what to do when they hear something bad is going on behind neighbor's doors. Our concept is extremely simple - just ring the bell. Ask for something usual, simple, maybe even obviously ridiculous! Just make them see that people hear and don't like what's going on.
Victims of domestic violence help to spread information as well. They start feeling much better helping other women.

How do you promote your movement? Of course, the internet is very powerful nowadays, but a lot of people in India may not have it. How to make them hear?

Yes, you are right. Internet is not available for everyone in India as, for example, in European countries.
That is why we split our budget in four equal part: one to supply TV commercials, second part for billboards on the streets, third - for maintaining trainings, and the last part - for the Internet.

What are your plans for the near future?

We are working really hard on getting police involved. We are organizing special trainings for police officers.
We want to educate them as well that it is not a private business of a family. Women deserve to be free from violence, they just need someone to help them on this way. And police is meant to be protecting people.

*Around 35 percent of Indian women suffer from physical violence at the hands of their partners while nearly 40 percent men and women think that it is sometimes or always ‘justifiable’ for a man to beat his wife (UN Women report on Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice, 2011-2012)


  1. This interview is a good addition to the general info on the subject!

    It is hard to imagine what impact would just ringing a bell have on severe, continuous violence. But if the campaign is really visible, even the smallest intervention can make people think twice. Unfortunately in some cases the violent person is mentally unstable - the intervention should then be more radical and maybe the person who is being abused should leave.

    Why stay with someone who beats you? In Finland it is relatively "easy" to escape to a secure house and get help and start a new life without the abuser. How about in India? Can you just leave?

  2. Unbelievable: "believe that being abused is a normal part of everyday life".

    Quite interesting also that, in here you'd probably go to a self defense course, in India the training is about the right of not getting beaten. What is it that has created this difference? Education? Maybe they are on the right track.

    I'm glad to read more about the project in practice, that there are the TV-spots and billboards as well. If they reach enough people they could actually change the culture of silence. A big first step.