Braveheart Daughters. Crusading against Evils

You think women are weak? They can never be equal to men? Time to rethink. Read about these Youth Veerangnayen here, who are trying very hard to earn respect without opposing the other sex.

Article Title: Braveheart Daughters. Crusading against Evils.
Language: English
Written by Sumitt Sethi

Being a guy, I guess I was never quite attuned to all the harassment and abuses against the fairer sex. With ever-increasing number of rapes, news of harassment and all other atrocities like dowry, female-infanticide, discrimination against women; it was natural for Indians to live with the remorseful pang, of being parents of 'unwanted' female children. Lately, though I have been noticing it everywhere and it seems to be getting worse all the time, there have been a question buzzing in my mind always-What needs to be done to change people who consider girls as a curse?

And as luck would have it, I got a chance to meet Gurcharan Kaur Mann, a stern iron-willed lady from Punjab, who is leading a community (I would say, a battalion) of brave sisters who have pledged to fight for whats’ right. Mann is the National President of Youth Veerangnayen, an organization that was founded in 2010, with an objective to elevate the status of underprivileged section of society that is entangled in the cobweb of drugs, discrimination, violence, poverty, gender related issues, prostitution and a lot of social stigma. Looking back at my education in India, I don't think any aspect of my education had any concrete solution to establish gender equality. Is there a quick and effective way to sensitize a large population, maybe a few hundred or thousand at a time?

There are many organizations that are working for women's rights. We can see thousands of 'staunch' feminists around us, we can see them participating in TV debates, inking reams of newspapers with long articles, demonstrating candlelight marches, and spitting out powerful speeches against men. Is opposition to men the only way to raise a voice in favor of the fairer sex? We play a blame game of "All Indian men are rapists" and still expect men to fight for women?

When questioned about hardline hell-bent feminism, Gurcharan Kaur says, "Respect is not induced or injected, but it is earned. Respect is earned when you show your capability, skills, talent to society. Women should learn to respect themselves in order to earn respect from others. We never say that we are 'special', but equal."

"Our organization is not fighting against men, but we strive for equality. You can see we are working against the menace of drugs, that is basically related to male side of society, but it's the woman who pays the price of this,” she further adds. Perhaps you have seen a Facebook post about Youth Veerangnayen (YV). Perhaps you haven’t even heard anything about YV. Perhaps you kind of know what it is but you have lots of questions about it. Here we come with the success story of YV that how a small organization achieved big goals.

As the grassroots arm of the women’s movement, the Youth Veerangnayen Society is dedicated to its multi-issue and multi-strategy approach to women’s rights. Today it’s an organization with 23,794 members spanning almost all states in northern India and spanning across Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra.

YV’s mission is to challenge the social evils, empower women and crusade for the rights of the poor. From fighting violence against women, preventing child marriages, providing free education to the children of poorer section living in slums, arranging vocational training courses (beautician, pickle making, knitted garments, handbags etc) for unemployed women, to ensure rehabilitation of victims of trafficking for women and children, the YV's vision is to 'protect the powerless from abuse and fight against social evils.

In addition to this, YV organizes campaigns, seminars, rallies, skits etc to encourage the society against the social stigma of child-marriage, female-foeticide, prostitution, child labor and dowry system etc. Till date, 18,265 rallies and 1730 such seminars have been organized by society throughout India. YV is also running a de-addiction programme and more than thousand drug addicts have quit their habit under this programme. Also it arranges self defence training classes for the young females to prevent them from insecure and vulnerable environment. The latest initiative by YV is to ensure free health check-ups for pregnant ladies and to provide them nutritious food for their well-being.

But the list does not end here. The initiative by YV that almost stirred me is rehabilitation of prostitutes in mainstream society. They have succeeded in rescuing many ill-fated women who were forced into the flesh trade. They have provided them proper treatment for diseases. And surprisingly, some of such rescued women are happily married now.

"I feel good that today we have attained a position where we can provide a platform to those brave women who have a strong-will to make this world a better place to live," says Pushpa Devi, who has been working hard to manage the YV's think tank. Speaking about the journey so far, she says, "We started YV five years ago, at a time when all we had was a bunch of wild ideas, a king-sized dream, and an excitement to get to work. We had a vision to find all of the brave women of the India to help them find each other, then to change the world with good news, good ideas, good people, and good times."

When asked about any awards and achievements, she added, "When we turn our focus to someone else, and especially to making their load lighter, or their day brighter, to make them happier it comes back to us ten times stronger even than what we put out. That is some sweet math, isn’t it?

Choice is yours...!

Rape, assaults, molestation, bullying are some words that we hear everyday in news. And it’s every girl’s unspoken fear that keep haunting them. The feeling of insecurity is infringing the women’s feel of freedom. They say, men are our protectors, and we are the protectees. Our bodies are too fragile and we aren’t made of the right stuff to tackle the abusers. It’s that can’t do feeling that destroys out self-protective abilities. This is untrue that women are unable to protect themselves. You just have to learn some basic self-defense techniques to combat assaults and molestation, arm yourself with confidence and no abuser will ever try to snare you.

"We here at Youth Veerangnayen Society, advocate the provision of essential self-defense training to all the girls in India. All women possess the powerful caliber of self-protection. This instinct lies deep within us all. Just we have to unearth it," says Rashmi Laroia, National Member of YV body.

I'm just giving it back, what God gifted me

YV runs free study centers all over India, where education is provided to children belonging to underprivileged families. YV emphasize on making children morally as well as mentally strong to face the world. To improve the socio-economic conditions at the grassroots, it is running free vocational training courses to make girls confident and self-dependent. Neeta Grover, who had learnt computer basics, under this programme is now running her own computer center.

"There are many girls who come to my center. I provide free coaching classes for the girls who belong to poorer sections of the society. It was my good fortune that I got the right direction and now I'm self dependent. All the credit goes to YV, and hence I'm imparting the same values to the girls who have joined classes at my center. I would be happy utmost, if they become self-dependent like me and serve the society," says Neeta.

Mother discards, YV embraces

Khushi, smiles when Komal kisses her forehead. She is so cute, as much as a 10-days old infant can be. It seems, she enjoys the affection being showered by the girls surrounding her. Khushi, was brought to Sirsa, a few days ago. She was handed over to Gurcharan Kaur by her grandmother. But why?
"Her parents were not happy when she was born. All they wanted to dispose her off in any way. When someone suggested them to take her to us, they asked Khushi's grandmother to approach us. The grandmother was ordered that if Veerangnayen do not accept this girl, throw her in drain. Here, volunteers like Komal will take care of Khushi untill we find a family that agrees to adopt her," says Gurcharan Kaur.
She told us, We can see many parents who do not want to raise their girls, YV requests them not to kill the offspring or abort (in case of pre-birth gender test), and then manages to find a family that is ready to adopt the girl child. Female-foeticide is a big problem in India and the situation is getting worse. Government and other organizations have been trying hard to tackle this problem, but no real success has been documented.

"We have found a practical way to eliminate the curse of infanticide. When there are thousands of childless couples who are frantically looking for a child, then why not gift them little angels?" says Gurcharan Kaur.

Want to be brave? Make brave choices. Even when you are stuck in a situation or circumstance that cannot be changed, you are still left with the human freedom of making the brave choice to change yourself. You cannot directly 'induce' respect for women in the whole mass of such a big nation. You will have to start small. Teach your boy how to behave with a girl. Teach your girl how to carry herself with dignity. Will this take time? Yes, a lot of it. But initiatives like Youth Veerangnayen will always be enlightening our path.
(Originally posted at Saying Truth)



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Youth Voice: Braveheart Daughters. Crusading against Evils
Braveheart Daughters. Crusading against Evils
You think women are weak? They can never be equal to men? Time to rethink. Read about these Youth Veerangnayen here, who are trying very hard to earn respect without opposing the other sex.
Youth Voice
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