Monday 3 December 2018

Talk, resolve issues

The ‘Ink 2018 Billionaires of Moments’ conference held in the city recently saw a smorgasbord of ideas from bright minds from across the country.

HYDERABAD:  The ‘Ink 2018 Billionaires of Moments’ conference held in the city recently saw a smorgasbord of ideas from bright minds from across the country. One such invigorating session was the one on the ‘MeToo’ movement, during which Dr Sister Jesme narrated her harrowing tale of sexual harassment by her superiors in the church.
The panel discussion on the topic was moderated by Vaishali Kasture, co-founder of SonderConnect, and the members were Sister Jesme, Pankaj Rai, head of strategic planning in Wells Fargo Global Capability Centre, and Antara Telang, who is a community specialist and has written widely on the subject.
The session started with the Sister Jesme’s painful story about how a priest stripped himself in front of her to show her a ‘man’, and how she too was made to strip. Realising that what she was facing was against the principles of Jesus, she quit her convent after 33 years, and have been since exhorting other victims to speak out. In a speech that received a standing ovation, she said: “If you want to see Jesus, come out in the universe. God is there in every one.”
During the panel discussion, both Sister Jesme and Antara agreed that MeToo has to become more inclusive. While Sister Jesme said that the movement should include harassed men too, Antara said: “The problem in MeToo in India is that it has not included the voices from all class and castes. It is doubly difficult for underprivileged women to speak out.”
Shifting the focus on corporate workspaces from where a lot of women have spoken up, Pankaj said: In any situation that involves power differences, the victim is supposed to retaliate, but in cases of sexual harassment, the victims are shamed. The main way out is to talk about it. We have to look at it holistically and not make it one-sided. Men need to be vocal about such issues to the women in their houses. Conversations can help address this.”
As part of the ‘Moments of Truth’ session, Hanif Kureshi of the Start India Foundation, talked about how he started a movement to transform the bare walls in cities into colourful objects of art. The project brought together artists from 20 countries who made the walls in 20 Indian cities their canvas, Hyderabad included! Their famous artwork adorns the walls of Maqta now. While David Saddington talked about the importance of talking about climate change, Jess Teutonico of the ‘We Are Family’ foundation emphasised on how the youth are the change makers in this world.
(Written by Kakoli Mukherjee. Originally published in The New Indian Express on December 3rd, 2018) 


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