Ditch the Bystander Effect With This Video About Sexual Harassment
Curley Street’s campaign chooses to place the responsibility actively and squarely at the bystanders’ doorstep, urging them to act.
Curley Street’s campaign chooses to place the responsibility actively and squarely at the bystanders’ doorstep, urging them to act.(Photo: iStock)

Ditch the Bystander Effect With This Video About Sexual Harassment

“You who will tease me when I walk down the street on my 12th birthday...
You who will grope me on the bus...
I can see your frustration...
I know you are broken... you can’t help it. So, bravo! Well done.
But YOU,
Who will turn away, keep quiet, keep walking...
You who will leave me to be stared at, teased, raped...
You with the power to change my story?
YOU could have found a way.”

THAT is the powerful rebuttal that a video published by Curley Street Media – an award-winning film production house in Bengaluru – seeks to make to all those who choose not to intervene, as bystanders, when they watch an act of harassment on the streets – later justifying their silence.

Curley Street’s campaign chooses to place the responsibility actively and squarely at the bystanders’ doorstep, urging them to ask themselves – #HowWillWeRespond?

Here are a few things that the Bystander Intervention team would like to share:

We are dedicating the month of September to Bystander intervention (BI). Bystander Intervention (BI) is a violence prevention strategy that equips the community with information on how to respond when you witness a person in distress. We are choosing to focus on using BI for women’s safety, with the campaign hashtag #HowWillWeRespond.
Curley Street Media

Here’s What You Can Do as a Bystander...

The production house reveals that through their videos, they aim to get people to think about what they would do in the moment of truth if they are a bystander. The team wants BI to become an active practice in India – just as it is in the US, where BI training is conducted annually in schools and universities. “The concept of Bystander Intervention is still new to India,” the team suggests.

Bystander Intervention is largely a violence prevention strategy that has been developed keeping in mind the idea that violent or potentially violent/threatening and even uncomfortable situations often occur in the presence of others. In all of these situations, bystanders are confronted with the ambiguity of “What next?” This “what next” question is really at the core of bystander intervention.

The team suggests that in such situations there are a number of things a bystander can do:

  1. Don’t do nothing.
  2. If you witness a situation where it feels like something is wrong, notice the event and think about options that are within your personal power to respond.
  3. If the event has already occurred and you feel you are too late to intervene, instead of walking away, you could check on the person and ask if they are ok – if they need something.

Here is the second video released by Curley Street to give one an idea of why Bystander Intervention is important – and why, in its absence, things can go horribly, sickeningly wrong...

Curley Street Media is quick to remind of what Bystander Intervention is NOT.

Bystander intervention is not about putting yourself in harm’s way or about confronting an aggressor directly about their behaviour. For instance, say, your classmate makes a sexually inappropriate joke about your friend; you could respond in many ways – e.g., change the topic and talk about your favourite song, directly tell your classmate that the comment was not appropriate, talk to an authority figure about what you heard, excuse yourself from the conversation.

Curley Street is currently collaborating with clinical psychologist Dr Divya Kannan, who specialises in trauma and sexual violence and is also trained in bystander intervention.

We are working with www.HowRevealing.com to encourage people who have intervened positively in the past to share their stories. We have also received guidance from www.Hollaback.com (a global movement to end harassment which focuses on Bystander Intervention training). The culmination of the campaign will be a bystander intervention workshop conducted by Dr Divya Kannan in Bangalore.

The team is overwhelmed with the support they have already received from online audiences and celebrities like Kalki Koechlin, Nandita Das, Shruti Hasan, Pankaj Advani, Rahul Khanna, Karan Wahi, Meena Kandaswamy, Durjoy Dutta, Nikhil Chinappa, Alan Wilkins, Preeti Shenoy and others who have tweeted and shared the videos on social media.

While the team gears up to release more videos to urge public action, the important takeaway for any bystander today is – Don’t do nothing.

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