Pre-thinking:

This talk begins with a personal story of sexual violence that may be difficult to listen to. But that’s the point, says citizen journalist Meera Vijayann: speaking out on tough, taboo topics is the spark for change. Vijayann uses digital media to speak honestly about her experience of gender violence in her home country of India — and calls on others to speak out, too. Should we do more on our campuses and communities to speak out?

Why you should listen:

Meera Vijayann began using digital media to tackle sexual violence in the aftermath of a tragic Delhi rape-and-murder case. In 2013, she won the CNN IBN Citizen Journalist Award for her reporting in the aftermath of the Delhi rape case. She is an example of a new type of journalism: that written by thoughtful, concerned citizens on their own without a publisher’s sponsorship.

Who is she?

Her articles and blogs have appeared in the Guardian, CNN, Forbes, Open Democracy, IBN LIVE, The New Indian Express and other major media outlets. She is a Change Manager at Ashoka India, and as an elected member of the inaugural class of +SocialGood connectors, she facilitates dialogue between entrepreneurs, innovators and institutions to tackle global issues around gender rights and sexual violence.

Questions:

  1. Vijayann’s talk begins with a description of repeated sexual assault on her as a child. We do not often hear of such events in a public forum. Was this disclosure important to her talk?
  2. She goes on to speak about the experiences of herself and others through her developing years. When a person from another culture speaks of things like this, North Americans often have a feeling that we are isolated from these events. Can you think of similar events in your own experience?
  3. After she describes the gang rape and death of a young woman in Delhi, and the reaction to that event in Indian society, she says the overwhelming horror proved one thing: no one knew what to do. Would this be true, if such an event happened here?
  4. The defendants’ lawyer said, “Delhi rape victims are to blame”. What state of mind is he presuming for the defendants? Do you agree or disagree with his characterization?
  5. Vijayann says that she came to realize that, like most young women, she almost always had technology at hand, but like many, she hadn’t used it to express her opinion. Have you ever gone public with a post about an issue?
  6. She concludes, “The truth is, the end to this problem begins with us.” Agree or disagree with this statement, and explain why to someone else.

Find your voice against gender violence with Meera Vijayann

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