Every time he calls me with a cuss word, it makes me uncomfortable. All those words reduce me to a mere female who has a vagina. At that moment, all my achievements in life were made worthless. I just feel not to stay in that home that continuously uses profane language towards me since my marriage. I have to listen to those obscene words in front of my children and neighbours. I just continue and let myself remain in the situation because I don’t have an option.” Sita, (name changed) my neighbour, an educated working woman, said this to me with her sobbing sounds and eyes brimming with tears. She left hurriedly while leaving my hand, which I was holding for sympathy. I wanted to make her comfortable and relaxed. But really wonder if my two minutes road meet is effective in gaining her agency back. Nobody can fathom, how much mental pressure she must be facing. The entire situation made me restless. I felt sad but realised the dire need to change the situation through legislation.
Millions of Sita are facing these situations daily. Men folks are taking pride while using profane words for their partners and other women and men and feel powerful when they see others getting uncomfortable because of listening to their words. What kind of pleasure is this? These cuss words are becoming a part of their life. Generation after generation these words are travelling with us and making our women and men folk uncomfortable. No law has made it ban and no resolution has passed to date. There is no fine for those who use such languages. And women-centric abusive language which is directed towards women’s private parts continues.
Change comes with great willpower. One can bring change when he or she decides to do so and take action towards it. One youth who was the Sarpanch of Bibipur village, Jind district, Haryana, took a step to ban it in his village, in 2014. And since then, the Gali Band Campaign (Ban on abusive language) is continued and spread in other villages and districts and brought a positive change in the communities. दर्द का जेंडर क्यों ढूँढने लगे , दर्द तो मर्द को भी होता है और महिला को हर महीने कई दिन होता है
The innovative way of implementation:
Mr Sunil Jaglan, an initiator of the Selfie With Daughter Campaign which was started in 2015 and was appreciated by our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, is the man behind the Gaali Bandh campaign. Since his childhood, Sunil was always becoming restless, whenever he used to listen to the abusive language used by men and boys. He used to think why all men are not like his father, who was a great practitioner of Gandhian values and who had a great concern for women’s education and empowerment.
Sunil whose life is influenced by his father Mr Omprakash Jaglan, a Gandhian and a great follower of truth and non-violence, decided to put a ban on profane language. He knew that abusive language targeted towards women’s private parts and against her dignity is very much part of the culture and people are used to it and used it even casually.
It was not easy to change the situation overnight. And to bring the change needed a great plan and strategy. In Gaali Bandh Campaign, Sunil put daughters and women of the villages at the forefront. He implemented this campaign in a non-violence way, through the active support from women and girls from his village.
A nonviolence way to end violence:
The 75th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi just passed. We were again touched by Gandhi’s talisman of truth and non-violence. The Gaali Bandh campaign is the best example if we want to see the power of non-violence.
The charts for the Gaali Bandh Campaign were prepared. Daughters and women of the household put those charts at their homes and started counting and ticking on the charts the number of times the male member used the cuss words for women and men.
When daughters and sisters counted the number of times household men used abusive language, from the chart, male members felt guilty and gradually they controlled themselves. People from the village agreed that they initially used to say profane words many times, but due to the counting on the charts they reduced it. The chart has controlled the behaviour of men folk dramatically. When their own daughter came and told them that they have used bad language this much number of times, then they felt embarrassed and could not face their daughters, sisters and wives, and promised them about their good behaviour and polite language, as they wanted to feel proud in front of their daughters.
Many national daily newspapers reported this dramatic change in the behaviours of men from the villages and other countries.
Response to the campaign and way forward:
The Gaali Bandh Campaign is successful in making the surroundings toxic-free. Now we need to take this campaign further, especially in regions where profanity is maximum. Local government and panchayat need to come forward and take initiative toward the implementation of SWDF’s Gaali Bandh Campaign. Schools need to implement this campaign from their premises as a large number of children and youth can be addressed from the same platform and sensitised towards this grave issue. The education ministry needs to take this campaign seriously and understand its log impact on culture and society. Schools, where children spend 7 to 8 hours is the great place to mould them. When these children are dispersed in society, they will be responsible citizens and will not allow any profanity in their homes, offices and surroundings.
We have the best example of Hand Washing and vaccines during the Covid 19 pandemic. Hand washing and vaccination were promoted on a large scale. Their importance was highlighted in every media and their necessity was explained repeatedly. Thus, the message reached every corner of the world and we could control the spread of the virus.
We need to come together to kill the virus of profane language to make our society free from toxicity. We need to sensitise our politicians for making a legislature and a plan of action for implementing it. Then only we will not have more Sita with a sobbing voice and eyes brimmed with tears. And all Sita will walk on the street with their neck high.
Written by: Rujuta Deshmukh
A team member of SWDF. She is an author, storyteller and writer. She writes about women and children.