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Opposing Gender violence: Yes, I Have a Vested Interest

This weekend, I attended a media workshop on gender in Bangalore, organized by Population First, an organization that creates gender sensitivity. During the workshop a question came up quite a few times: 'Is it ok for journalists to get involved in an issue they cover?'

I have heard that question before. Usually, the reply is, 'No. Journalists should be objective.' This time, however, I heard a different one. Shakuntala Narsimhan - a very senior journalist in her sixties (she was writing against infanticide and female feticide much before I was even born) with four decades of experience said, 'yes, a journalist is a human being first. So, when a wrong happens, she/he must first act like a human being and then like professionals.'

This took me back to my own childhood.
Eleven months old, I was sick, had acute headache (as revealed by a doctor later) and cried a lot, loudly. My father, who always wanted a boy child who is no more, couldn't stand the 'noise' and holding me like a chicken (I can't see how else you could do that), threw me a few yards.

What could have happened? Consider this: Broken limbs. Internal bleeding. Brain damage. Multiple organ damage. Death.

But - and I have no idea how - I survived. In fact, surviving is all I did then. Because, at that age, I hadn't even learned to speak.

Three decades later, I know how to speak. How to write and how to film. Combined together, these are various components of my own voice.

Should I not use this voice to say what happened to me? How it happened? Who did it and why he did it?

Should I not reveal it in order to remain objective?

I believe I should. And I believe that by doing so, I break no code of journalist ethics. I am a journalist. But I also am a human being. And when the human in me is being violated and abused, it is only ethical to shout that out.

The law of my country is neutral. It is blind. It knows no bias. And it takes no sides.
Yet, the law speaks in favor of the one who is right and has been wronged. Does that make the law unethical?

As a journalist and a survivor of violence, I believe that it is a right thing for me to speak against the violence that I faced and what scores of girls and women face in my country. And the world.

I believe, its ethical to have a 'vested' interest in the good. And in social change. Unless we do that, change will never come.

So yes, I do have a vested interest in opposing gender violence. And so I speak. Annually in India, seven hundred thousand girl children are killed just because they are girls. I speak against that.

Over 90% of women in my country experience sexual harassment or assaults. I speak against that.

245 million women in my country are deprived of education. I speak against that.

I also speak for those who are wronged. abused, tortured, hurt and unheard.

Because I am one of them. I live with them in one house. And when my house is on fire, I can't just stand by and watch or take notes. I need to fight it.

Because it is right and ethical.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Ending Violence Against Women Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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Comments

Sharontina's picture

Great courage

Dear Sis,

How true, I go with your ideology put into action.

Usually its a fact that children undergoing such tortures or surviving threats like what you have said turn out to be living in a state of stress or some psychological disorder in one or the other way as they grow up. Mostly in the negative perspective as arrogant or one who reflects that to others in turn of what they have suffered.

In spite of that, seeing you here as a lady in such a good form well stabilised running to save others from the trauma is very touching. I love you for that.

Hugs.

Merlin Sharontina

Stella Paul's picture

Love you back

Thanks Sharontine

Everything in this world has a purpose. Maybe I was saved because the fight against gender discrimination and violence always need new voices. But the credit goes to my mother, who was the only one who wanted me. So she saved me, took care of me and here I am today.

I am happy to be standing with all of you. Its our common issue, common battle.

Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Mukut's picture

Touching

What a powerful story.Thank You for sharing this.

Mukut Ray

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks Mukut

Thank you very much Mukut. Together we can make change happen. Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Carrie Lee's picture

Courage

I hear your courage and humanness. Thank you for sharing.
Warmly,
Carrie
PS- I love how the senior journalist turned the old rule on it's head.

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks Carrie

Thank you for reading and commenting Carrie. Its a strangely good feeling to read this, sitting in an NYC apartment. Hope to meet you soon and connect in a big way. Until then, love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Osai's picture

The Will to Survive

Hi Stella,

How is the tour so far? I find that without even knowing it we always have an innate strength to withstand whatever the world throws at us. The tip is not to lose hope. Also we have the right to stand against anything that affects us, our survival and our dignity. Keep up the good work and keep sharing the stories.

Best regards,
Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks darling

Dear Osai

So beautiful to hear these words from you. The tour has been wonderful so far and just today, I met Fungai, Dianara and Leina - VoFs from past batches. Its too touching to even describe. And for me its really special because I get all this love coming from you sisters. Love you!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

usha kc's picture

Your words came from the

Your words came from the core of your heart always touch me dear.

Speaking truth needs to have huge courage and so you have. I never get tired to aplaud your courage and humanity.

love you my dear sister. You survived to give thousands of other a life of hope.

Stella Paul's picture

Thanks my lovely sister!

How can I thank you enough? You are so full of understanding and love all the time.I love you for that!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Nusrat Ara's picture

A wonderful piece. Love

A wonderful piece.

Love

Nusrat

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you Nusrat

Thanks very much Nusrat! You are very encouraging.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Stella,

You are so so amazing I have no words to say or describe how I feel. You are simply beyond words. God bless you and all the help you give others as you share what must be very painful memories. If it is true what they say, that we are all in earth school learning our lessons to pass on to others when we graduate, there is something really big for you in your future that is wonderful, complete and much deserved by you.

Thank you.

Ubuntu,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Stella Paul's picture

Am touched!

Thank you a billion times Wendy! Such beautiful words- makes me go dance! Love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Wendyiscalm's picture

YOUR WORDS AND EXPERIENCES HAUNT ME

Dear Stella,

A few hours ago I sent a message regarding your article.

I am not big on rhetoric(ideas), I am more a person of action to show I mean my few words. So, here is what I will do at least to start to make a difference based on your experiences.

I just got back from Livingstone Zambia (I live in Chicago USA) the first week of September. I leave to go back October 9th arriving October 11th. I am going to speak to the young teen men I sponsor again about how to treat women and I know I can get to them by using their mothers as an example of how they would feel if a man treated them as you were treated when you were young. I will put the thought in their head that there is another way, a respectful way to treat women. It is not the answer. But it is a start to the answer. Please know you make a difference in this world and what you have been through was not in vein.

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together),

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Stella Paul's picture

Inspired!

Dear Wendy

In my talk, I have been talking of something again and again: creating a chain of inspiration. And reading your message today, sitting in a hotel room in Portland, OR, I am realizing the power of that. I feel inspired by your words, and it gives me strength. I am grateful to you for listening to me, to read this and caring to write this beautiful message. But above all, I am happy that you are giving yourself this wonderful gift of being a chain builder. So bravo, love and all the worldful of best wishes!

Hugs

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Wendyiscalm's picture

CHAIN BUILDRER

Yes,

Stella,

I like that idea: chain builder. it is easy because it only requires a lot of people to do just a little. I will be one. I think if you talk it up on Voices Rising or at your talks the way Sarah did about Listening for her listening day that this will get some good movement working.
I'll be happy to do my part.

Something wonderful is coming your way, Stella, in your future. This has been your preparation.

If you want a book that will inspire you to make it happen, there is a good one called "This Is Your Time" by Joel Osteen.

Let's keep in touch and let me know if I can do anything.

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Stella Paul's picture

Much appreciated!

Thanks yet again Wendy for your encouraging comment and words of love and support. I can feel it, you know. Also, thanks for suggesting the book. Will sure try that. Love

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Greengirl's picture

About Wendy

Stella, that is Wendy for you, her heart is so large and her being is a well of love.

Hello dear Stella,

I enjoy the question you raised here - whether or not a journalist can be involved, ethically, in the subject matter she writes about. Even when a piece demands objectivity, the bottom line is, you are drawn to what you do because of what you care about. The fact that you write about gender violence and inequity is because you care about it. You can still write objectively, but you bring the subject matter to light. I have seen you do this many times and you excel at it, as you do here. Thank you for caring, and for letting the world know you care, and for giving readers a way to care as well! Thanks for sharing this thought-provoking piece!

Leslie Stoupas

Stella Paul's picture

Gratitude!

Dear Leslie

How wonderful is it to be understood, to be supported and to be told about that by another human being,especially by another woman! It is this that has always kept me going, and it always will. So, thanks my dear friend for your special words and let us extend this support to thousands of other women who do not yet have a Leslie Stoupas in their lives.

Hugs!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

temmett's picture

Thank you!

You are clearly a talented writer. You're story was informative and packed with feeling at the same time. Thank you for taking the risk to open up your personal story with all of us. Your willingness to do that is giving you such a powerful voice for women.

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you Tara

Dear Tara

Thanks very much for reading (or, listening), for understanding and for connecting. These are the most important 3 steps we all can do to move closer to a better world. Let us stay connected and be each other's strength.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

amiesissoho's picture

My Dear Stella if we are not

My Dear Stella if we are not involved in issues we care about who will? Indeed we have vested interest in changing our lives. So you're right journalists are human beings first then learn to be professionals.

Well done Sister,

keep raising your voice now that you've found it.

Regards,

Amie

Stella Paul's picture

You nailed it!

Dear Amie

Its amazing to see how World Pulse women just understand this point so quickly and agree to it. Because, you all know what it is to be victimized, stigmatized and struggle to end it all. So I am proud of you. Always will be. And thankful, for the support. LOve

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Wendyiscalm's picture

Love that expression, Amei

Hi Amei,

I love what you just wrote to Stella "Keep raising your voice now that you've found it". That is profound.

I am going to write it down and quote it often, with your permission, Amei. It is a great reminder and expectation.

Love ya,

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Maddy M.'s picture

Dear Stella, You are an

Dear Stella,

You are an inspiration... a SURVIVOR!!!

Hugs,
Maddy

Stella Paul's picture

LOVE YOU GIRL!

Oh my god, Maddy, You Will Live A Hundred Years! I have been talking about you all the time, every day - I tell everyone how I don't have money to go to countries like Nicaragua or Madagascar or anything like that, but how I can travel through the eyes and experiences of my wonderful colleagues and friends like you! And here you are now, writing to me.So,a huge, huge hug and love for you my dear!

God bless and thanks for being there!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Greengirl's picture

Sweet Stella

You've sure got it! So, so, good at what you do dearie.

I can never forget the first time I read about your babyhood/childhood experiences, though it was shared in another light then. Now that you are telling it again in another dimension, it's still got the touch of your genuine, imaginative, expressive and moving words.

Words expressed through your unique voice is always touching and inspiring and like many others, I can never get tired of listening to you.

I am glad you're always out there standing for what you believe in and also speaking out when it matters most.

Enjoy your tour!

Your sister and friend,

Olanike

Stella Paul's picture

I want to come to Nigeria

Dear Olanike

As I read this, I have this strong urge to just fly and come to you in Nigeria, so we can hug, talk and do things together. But, we are already together - in spirit and faith. And that is wonderful. One day, I believe we will be together in person. Until then, let us keep this cycle of understanding on. Love!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

Wendyiscalm's picture

WAIT A MINUTE !

Olanike and Stella,

Wait a minute ! Can we make it a group hug? I want to come too ! Haha.

Love and ubuntu,

Wendy Stebbins

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Halima Mohamed Abdel rahman's picture

What a powerful voice!

This is a powerful story: well narrated,well written, well expressed!

I read it over and over with the same passion. You know how to capture the attention of your readers from your introduction to the last line in your article! You are a true journalist and leader!

Wendyiscalm's picture

Hi Halima, You are writing

Hi Halima,

You are writing your story to Stella but I was so struck with your authentic caring and encouragement that I wanted to acknowledge that. It means all for us all to be validated by other WP members. Stella is an excellent journalist, person and role model.

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together)

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

Iffat Gill's picture

Congrats!

Dear Stella,
I want to congratulate you on your wonderful achievement of spreading your voice and the voice of thousands of women to global audiences while being a great source of inspiration for many! Keep going girl.

More power to you.
Rose.

Iffat Gill

Sandra Nassali's picture

Very Inspirational

Dear Stella, reading your article has inspired me to continue speaking about VAW and encouraging others to do the same.

The world needs tough, determined and committed people like you if we are to attain every woman's dream i.e. zero tolerance of VAW.

Stay blessed.

Sandra

jap21's picture

Hi Stella

Did I ever tell you I shared your story with people in facebook and got lots of replies? I sent them here too. I hope some of them will finally become worldpulsers.

This story is one of top stories I am sharing with women around the world to celebrate the Month of Women, because I found myself asking: why should we celebrate Women´s Day on October 10th only? We should celebrate ourselves the whole month!

And your story is the one I began with.

Now I will add more stories, and would like to encourage everyone here to celebrate women heroes the whole month.

Big hugs,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

nusrat1977's picture

Love you Stella! I am touched…

Dear Stella,
Thank you for sharing your story. It’s truly touchy. I can’t believe… how a father can throw a newborn baby. But I know it has happened with you and it is happening with many in our country. I was reading it and when that line came, I just screamed… Lots of tormenting questions in mind, in heart… Will it ever stop?

But yes, we have to keep the hope alive. We have to keep raising our voice. We have to keep sending strong messages as you have done. Very beautifully expressed and so well narrated. It moved me.

Few days back I stumbled on a research news article by Prof. Akbar Ahmad of University of Cambridge on ‘The war on terror is a war on women’. He has put forth powerful statement that ‘if we fail to support the women in war-stricken countries, then we are in the danger of creating a next generation terrorists’.

The senior journalist rightly spoke her mind; we all are first human beings and then professionals. The other thing is when we get involved, when we feel the pain of someone else in our heart, just like our own, then the work that we do gets a different degree of perfection. Yours is a truly inspiring story. You are doing wonderful job. Keep it up and keep going.
I wish, I get some opportunity to meet you in person and we get to work together sometimes, I don't know how.

Love you!
Nusrat

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ..........Hellen Keller

Stella Paul's picture

Thank you Nusrat

Dear Nusrat

What a beautiful message! Made my evening! Thank you so much for your deep understanding and also your empathy!

I just saw that you are from India. Therefore, we can connect easily. I live in Hyderabad. You can find me on Facebook (search me by stellasglobe@gmail.com) or on twitter (stellasglobe). We can interact regularly and who knows, opportunities might just present themselves to work together one day!

Until then, a lot of love! God bless you!

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

nusrat1977's picture

Thanks Stella

Dear Stella,
You made my day! I woke up and saw your message. yes, I am from India but now living in Japan. I checked your facebook page, wanted to add but could not find how to add. It was great that you spoke in CNN. I must congratulate you for that. Yeah. we might get some opportunity to meet and work together.
Luv and hugs
Nusrat

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. ..........Hellen Keller

BUHENDWA NEEMA's picture

ok

courage! nous sommes toute dans le lutte

neema weza

Wendyiscalm's picture

Great piece

Great piece. Loved it, Stella.

Wendy

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

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