How do we rein in the stream of profanities that flow in our daily lives? The Selfie with Daughter Foundation believes it has found a way.
To make Uttar Pradesh free of abusive language, the foundation has launched an innovative campaign whereby a chart is put up in houses and the number of abuses hurled by male members of a family in a day are marked and counted.
Starting the Gaali Band (stop abusing) campaign from Meerut district of western Uttar Pradesh, Sunil Jaglan, director of the foundation, said that in the region, male members use cuss words at home that are directed at women, be it mother or daughter, or female private parts. “To curb this social disease, we have launched a campaign by roping in women volunteers who put the chart at home and keep a count of the cuss words used,” Mr. Jaglan said.
Known for holding Lado Panchayats in villages, Mr. Jaglan started the Beti Bachao campaign in 2012 in his village in Jind district of Haryana. His Selfie with Daughter initiative has been praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a national award-winning documentary has been made on his work.
The abusive language, he said, had become so integral to daily life that men in the region often did not realise how they made the social environment toxic. “The idea is to help them reflect on their behaviour, first at home and then in society.” On the charts, images of revered women from four prominent religions could be seen.
Alfisha, a volunteer who lives on Hapur road, said that her father, who makes a living by stitching clothes, often used abusive language at home. "Even if it is directed at his friends and foes, the cuss words are always about women. When I spoke to him, he realised that using such words is a sin in our religion. He still abuses but the frequency has come down," said the graduate from Chaudhary Charan Singh University in Meerut.
Alfisha has spread the word among her young neighbours who take tuition from her.
Mohammed Zubair, a resident of Meerut, said he did not realise how often he used women-centric cuss words till his sisters started noting them down. “The chart has helped me curb this habit.”
The foundation has also launched a period chart in which the date of the start of menstruation of members at home is noted every month. “This is to make the male members aware of the menstrual cycle from a young age so that it doesn’t remain a taboo,’ Mr. Jaglan said.
The chart, he said, would also be used to note the date of setting in of menopause. “In villages, menopause is setting in earlier than before and the male members should be made aware of the changes in the female body during that phase.”
Targeting 5,000 charts, the volunteers also distribute forms with general awareness questions to spread awareness about menstruation-related issues.
Amaniya, a postgraduate whose husband runs a hair salon in Meerut, said she has put up both the period and anti-abuse charts at her home as well as the shop.
“The period chart has shown results. Now the male members have been sensitised and they take extra care of us during ‘those’ days. The abuse chart is very important to be pasted at shops because it is in the markets that we are forced to hear filthy language,” she said.