Following the news of the Delhi gang-rape victim’s death on Saturday, social media networks were abuzz with activity. What stood out the most was users active participation in Stand Up, an initiative that aims to work towards the safety of women. It was started by actress Gul Panag and members of her family.
“My father, an army man, was feeling helpless as he was not able to do anything for the gang-rape victim and others like her. So, he tweeted his number for anyone wanting his help. When others started following suit, my brother decided to make it a pan-India initiative. I am happy that this time around, men have come forward rather than letting women battle it out alone”, Panag told DNA.
Sherbir Panag, a lawyer and Gul’s brother, said that Stand Up is an action-assistance group of like-minded people, who will act as a pressure group to attain justice within the system. “We are assembling a city-wise database and identifying core groups that will assist women in not only getting justice, post any incidence of rape or molestation, but also act as a deterrent,” Sherbir said.
Elaborating further, he explained, “According to media reports, at least one rape is recorded every 22 minutes in India. By forming a database of volunteers across the country, we can act as a support system and help the victim in filing an FIR, pushing for police investigations, rushing her to the hospital, helping with blood donations etc,” he said.
One of the several volunteers included 47-year-old Thane resident, Prosenjit Roy. An an IT professional and social media enthusiast, Roy on Saturday posted his contact details including his cell phone number and location.
“Even in a metro city like Mumbai, women feel unsafe and at times, need help. If I get a distress call from any women seeking help near my location, I can immediately rush to her help or seek some support from the police and other authorities,” he said.
Roy, who has a college-going daughter added, “The protest and candle light march has its own value , but something constructive needs to be done. This is my way of contributing to women safety.”
Vidyut Gore, a Virar based house-wife and an avid blogger also joined as a volunteer. She explained, “I will do whatever I can to help. This is just a start. The initiative will change India as more and more people come forward to volunteers for the cause.”
Stand Up will initially be a city-centric measure and will slowly identify network in far-flung areas across the country. Members will be added only when someone has been vouched for and is clean of character. Gul added that it is still in its nascent stage but in the first two hours of launching it online on Friday morning, there were 1000 volunteers. The initiative has struck a chord with people who are now ready for some action against the perpetrators of violence against women.
This initiative comes at a time when figures released by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) revealed 24,206 cases of rape registered in India in 2011, out of which 1,701 cases happened in Maharasthra.
“As a woman, I feel this is the single-most burning topic as no one has a right to threaten my modesty and dignity. I am scared to raise my children in this country,” added Gul.