Not a day goes by without reading about or listening to a sexual harassment case reported in the media. Sexual harassment is a matter of grave concern. In fact, despite the existence of laws pertaining to it, little has changed.
Realising the gravity of this issue in India, four women from Delhi decided to take matters into their own hands. They launched Nahi Means No, an initiative on sexual and rape awareness, safety and empowerment. Founded in 2018, Nahi Means No took inspiration from No Means No Worldwide, an international non-governmental organisation that seeks to end gender-based violence against women and children globally. As a female-driven initiative, Nahi Means No attempts to empower the mindsets of the younger generation for a safer future. The tailor-made workshops, both online and offline, are for different age groups and economic backgrounds.
Time for change
It was in the aftermath of the brutal Kathua rape and murder case that Sunanda Lahiri Kashyap and Afsheen Mulla Kanwar decided to do something about the rapidly-escalating crimes of molestation, harassment, and rape. The first step in taking the idea of the No Means No Worldwide forward was to conduct a survey to gauge public opinion. They made a list of ten questions related to crimes against women, and circulated this list. The respondents could answer anonymously. “The answers  were disturbing,” says Kashyap. “It felt all the more important to begin this initiative,” shares Kanwar. Co-founders Sangeeta Bose Tagore Anand and Aanchal Sethi joined them soon.
A workshop conducted by Nahi Means No touches upon topics including forms of harassment, cyber-security, bullying, bystander intervention, peer-pressure, etc. “We put emphasis on teaching our audience how to use their voice, how to say no, and how to get away from situations that compromise their safety,” explains Kashyap. Every session concludes with a 20-minute session of self-defence that is taught in partnership with International Ultimate Krav Maga Federation (IUKMF).
Change in mindsets
Sexual harassment is a hush-hush issue, especially in schools wherein students are oblivious to real-life issues like safe-sex, abortion, molestation, etc. “There have been times when we have done workshops on assault and physical safety without using the words ‘sex’ and ‘rape’,” Anand mentions.
Talking about the alternatives that can be adopted, Anand adds, “Keeping an open mind is important when addressing sexual harassment. We need open channels of dialogue and not rush things under the carpet.”