Passersby are intrigued when Bharat Kumar Jallu walks past holding a banner which says: “Stop violence against women.” Its caption reads: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
This 28-year-old youth from Andhra Pradesh, who is on a mission to spread the message of ‘gender equality,’ is going to walk the length of the country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. “There is nothing new in the message I hope to spread. I’m emphasising the fact that men need to respect women around them,” he explains.
A native of Govada in Guntur district, Mr. Bharat says that seeing his mother struggle to bring him up after his father left the family got him thinking about how most women are considered inferior. “I took to writing about women’s issues and gender struggles in my mother tongue, which was the beginning of a change in the thought process,” he says.
With approximately 3500 km to cover between the southern and northern ends of the country, Mr. Bharat hopes to complete his walk with a mission by the end of May 2014.
“I can walk an average of 50 km a day but the weather is getting progressively hotter. When I walk in between cities, passersby and farmers welcome me to stay with them. In cities, I stay in small lodges,” he says.
Mr. Bharat, who reached Madurai on Tuesday morning, started his walk for a cause on December 20 from Nagercoil and has covered 273 km. Speaking about the varied reactions from people he meets, Mr. Bharat says that many are in the dark about the issues concerning violence against women.
“While most people seem to know about the Delhi rape incident, they don’t realise that domestic violence, marital rape and child sexual abuse too constitute to violence against women,” he says. “The younger generation needs to understand that women should be treated with dignity and I chose to walk to create an impact with this message.”
His initiative involves the support of four of his friends from Hyderabad. “Today being only day 12 of my walk, I hope to meet a lot more people and interact with students to spread the message,” he concludes.