Break the Cycle has recently had the opportunity to have amazing conversations with global leaders working to end dating abuse in South India and Latin America through the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program. This past week, we got to meet even more incredible leaders from India, and speak with them about dating violence, sexual assault, and other topics related to gender-based violence. We were delighted to participate in a roundtable discussion with the following:
- Ms. Pragati Bankhele; Chief Copy Editor, Maharashtra Times
- Mr. Sunil Kuhikar; Assistant Editor, Tarun Bharat
- Mr. Manoj Mohite; News Editor, Maharashtra Times
- Mr. Anish Patil; Senior Crime Reporter, Prahaar
Additionally, Timothy Harwood, Global Communications Manager at MenEngage, sat in on the discussion.
During their visit, we talked about the differences between gender-based violence in the United States and India, as well as the role of the media in addressing it. In the U.S. “sex sells,” and violence is incredibly common in the media. However in India, the media is sometimes a place where young people can access information about sex education that they do not receive in school. The leaders from India stated that sex education is not taught in their schools, in any form (abstinence or otherwise). This void is often filled in with negative interpretations of sex, especially in the form of pornography or violent imagery on the internet. The media in some cities in India tries to fill the space where sex education does not exist with less violent interpretations to counteract the effect that negative imagery has on young people across the country. The leaders in the roundtable discussion all stated they try to do this.
Furthermore, our discussion extended beyond how sex education works in both school systems, and how schools deal with students who have experienced gender-based violence. This included specific campaigns that we may have heard of that try to engage men and young boys in ending violence against women, plus the criminalization and legal sentences of abusers, and the need to end patriarchal structures as a means to end gender-based violence. Break the Cycle’s work with young people was discussed in particular, especially our positive take on healthy relationships as opposed to a negative reaction to violent relationships. All participants agreed that teaching young people about sex and violence with a negative demeanor will not create a healthy environment.
Everyone was thoughtful and committed to ending violence in their communities, and their role as media in helping reduce gender-based violence. We will continue to be in touch with these amazing leaders and hope to hear more about their experiences in India, and how they are fighting to end dating violence!