It may sound incomprehensible at the outset but the idea of gender freedom is all about peaceful coexistence and acceptance of all genders- Male, Female, LGBT or any other way an individual wishes to define his/her gender. Subtle difference in the upbringing of male or female children lead to butterfly effect and we see glaring differences in the society on how an individual treated in a society due his/her gender irrespective of education, capability, skill, financial status etc. Gender based violence are reported from every nook and corner of the country every day which often lead me to think why is it happening? Is it the lack of policing, is it the due to our cultural bias towards patriarchy, is due to lack of quality upbringing, or is it due intolerance towards other gender? The answer is a combination of all of them.
So what could be solution to this? The government or the law enforcement agencies can do what ever little they are interested in but what can be done by an individual who shares deep concern for gender based violence? After studying this subject for quite some time I came to conclusion that the society need sensitization and as an individual I should work towards that. Until something untoward happens to someone close or loved one, no one cares. Every one see the news and forgets it as a scene of any fictional movie. The society need to be told that issue is graver than they tend to ignore it.
We don’t need any kind of research to tell that most of the time the receiving end of gender based violence are women and young girls. So I conceptualized and started this ride in March 2014 to sensitize people about worst kind of gender based violence like Rape and Acid Attacks. The plight of Acid attack victim really touched me to the core and hence I started this journey from Gudvancherry where a 40 year old women was forced to drink Acid by her own Husband.
Until now I have pedalled more than 26,000 kilometers in the past 51 months in 19 states - Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Kerala, Karnataka, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Rajsthan and interacted approximately with 9 lakh people at more than 4000 points in Indian cities, towns, townships and villages.
During the course of the Ride, I have been conducting discussions and workshops, puppet and film shows at important landmarks including educational and cultural institutions, public places like railway and bus stations, theatres and road side tea stalls to initiate a discussion about violence against women and gender freedom. Wherever I get chance, I meet lawmakers like Member of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies and also with district administration to convey the idea of Gender Freedom and how it will be achieved. My gears, accessories and the multicolour flag of the Ride are gradually gathering messages from people who identify with the idea of gender freedom and wish the Ride best. This ride has given me opportunity to interact with a large number cyclist as well. At many places they took care of my lodging and boarding and in almost all the major cities and state capital they jointly pedalled with me for the cause.
This ride will go on till Dec, 2018. After covering all the South Indian states and costal state of Odisha; the ride is presently passing through Gujrat.
Where is the root of the problem if heinous crimes like acid attacks are ignored as if these don't exist, while more and more women, men and children fall prey to its miserable aftermath? It is not just the life of suffering individuals, which is scarred beyond repair, but entire family suffers the consequences of our indifference towards this inhuman act.
This ride came into being while Rakesh volunteered with Stop Acid Attacks in New Delhi. But, sitting in New Delhi and contemplating about something that plagues not just this country, but the entire sub-continent, did not seem to be the right plan to work on. Hence, Rakesh has decided to cycle through as much of the length and breadth of this country, as much he can, in order to aware people about the rampant crimes involving love affairs, learn more about art and culture of various villages and identify the anthropological solutions to the disturbed gender equations within our culture. This ride needs to be documented, and, while Rakesh will do so through his resources, others too, are welcome to support his campaign in whatever capacity they can. Go through the 'Support' page
Born in Tariyani, Chhapra, in Bihar, Rakesh has mostly been a media-person for the most part of his life. He has spent about 10 years in Delhi working with the 'Sarai' programme of the Centre for Studies of Developing Societies as a media researcher, studying the media market in Delhi and edited a magazine called Medianagar. He also spent time as a corporate communication expert with a few corporate firms and freelanced for several magazines and news papers.
His first book Bam Sankar Tan Ganes is discussed as a work that will turn out to be a valuable documentation of the contemporary history of rural Bihar. At present, he is wandering to complete his next book Beyond Nagas, apart from playing with the brush and colours.
He draws his ideals from Kartulain Haidar's Kalandar and strength from Yash Malviya's poetry: Samay ki maar Sah lena nahin rukna mere saathi. A country free of gender discrimination is his final dream. And there haven't been more than three interests that move his life- Wandering, tripping, and photography.
Support this Ride
Though Rakesh's bike is entirely dependent on human effort, the entire activity does require him to have a certain funding for survival and for conducting his awareness-cum-learning camps.
There will be other maintenance costs involved as he proceeds.
Apart from money, there will be other sort of logistical help that would be required to fuel Rakesh's ride, from time to time. This may include providing him a spare part for his bike, getting his footage edited, help him make wrist bands to distribute along the ride, and other requirements, which will be shared on the Facebook regularly. You could provide him the required logistical help by getting in touch with him.Write/speak to me if you wish to contribute