Pedalling for gender equality
Pedalling For Gender Equality. Rakesh Singh, aged 40, had taken to cycling a year ago to launch a unique initiative. He was in the city on Sunday to take part in Raahgiri on his first anniversary of his mission titled ‘Ride for Gender Freedom’.
Rakesh Singh, aged 40, had taken to cycling a year ago to launch a unique initiative. He was in the city on Sunday to take part in Raahgiri on his first anniversary of his mission titled ‘Ride for Gender Freedom’. The ride was flagged off in Chennai in 2014 by Kanmanipriya, a 40-year-old victim, who was forced to drink acid by her husband 10 years ago. Since then, Rakesh has pedaled 5,100 km across the four southern states.
He will now continue his journey across India which will culminate at New Delhi in March 2017. Rakesh’s aim is to spread the message against acid attacks and gender bias. Before taking up the ride, Rakesh worked as a media researcher in New Delhi. So far he has spent around Rs 4 lakh on his mission. His expenses are met through donations by his friends and the people he interacts with on his ride. People make a donation in the box which Rakesh carries on his bicycle. Describing his initiative, Rakesh says, “Those who rape and molest don't come out of the blue. They are amongst us.
Who made them to commit such heinous crime? It is us, the society and the family. Family decides gender relationships. Rape cannot happen suddenly. Rapists get involved in petty crimes before they commit such a heinous offence. Hence, it is crucial to impart values. So please review, rethink about your behaviour.” “The idea of gender freedom is about peaceful coexistence and acceptance of all genders- male, female, trans or any other way an individual wishes to define their gender.
Little differences in the way daughters and sons are brought up in a family lead to social bias in gender roles. While daughters are taught to cover and behave themselves for their own safety, sons urinate in public which is overlooked and they are allowed to leer at and misbehave with women. The advice to boys is usually to stay unprovoked by a girl's clothing and behaviour.
When it comes to transgenders, the idea of freedom seems blanketed by another thick coat of hypocrisy,” Rakesh adds. His cycle, his clothes, accessories and the rainbow flag of the ride are gradually gathering messages from people who identify with the idea of gender freedom.
Rakesh will camp in the city for eight days before proceeding to Visakhapatnam. The Centre for Environment Education (CEE) has partnered with Raahgiri in creating awareness on environment related activities and conducted a flash mob on the theme. ‘Save the Tiger’ campaign was undertaken by a student group who walked on the stretch at Hitec City to spread the message. Speaking on the occasion ‘Save the Tiger’ activist Imran Siddiqui said, “While tiger population is on the rise all across the country, it is decreasing in the Two Telugu states. While 96 tigers were estimated to exist in the two Telugu states in 2006, it has now reduced to 68 in 2013.
The Save Tigers campaign has a student base of 26,000 students across 26 schools in the city. Among other activities conducted on the ninth week of Raahgiri included TAF - cycling rides; Reebok Zubma; Coca Cola Galli Football; Ascendas Kite Flying; Shaimak Daward ance workshop and skating and passion reels by fun games.