| Apr 15, 2022
SELF participant challenging protection
SELF participants at a workshop
Chahat (name changed) is a beloved daughter in her family. In a country where families have multiple daughters till they finally have a son, Chahat’s case is just the opposite. She has five elder brothers and two overprotective parents.
Chahat is a 2019 Sports, Expression, Leadership, and Freedom(SELF) Academy participant and is pursuing her bachelor's degree in Social Work. SELF Academy is a residential skill and leadership building program launched in 2015, for a selected cohort of girls and young women leaders to expose them to diverse concepts, and strengthen their knowledge, skills, and their leadership capacities to be self-reliant and independent. Through the use of sports, arts, media, and technology, the academy equips the participants with information, skills, and increased confidence. One of the key sessions at the academy unpacks how girls’ rights are violated under the disguise of protection.
During this session, Chahat reflected on how she never recognized this feature of patriarchy before the academy. While she has flourished with the love she has received, she came to realize that this has limited her bodily autonomy and mobility. With this awareness and enhanced confidence from attending the academy, she started raising her voice in the family and becoming more assertive. Her assertiveness initially got laughed off, but as she persisted in practicing her agency and autonomy, she was threatened with being pulled out of school. One of her brothers even hit her and locked her in a room. She got followed by her brothers every time she went somewhere, but none of these challenges stopped her from being her free and confident self.
Chahat still loves her family, probably even more now. But she has not stopped voicing her opinion. Her family has since accommodated to an extent towards her requests and demands.
In 2021, CREA launched a “Your Protection does not protect me campaign” to mark the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence. Chahat attests that the campaign helped her in putting her learnings from the SELF academy into context. She is happy that her family is changing, but recognizes that the fight is long.