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Activist Tarang Chawla calls to combat Sexism and Disrespect to Women

Melbourne, November 27: Sexist jokes, objectifying women, off-colour comments; most people hate these all too common signs of disrespect towards women, but too often they just go along with them, or don’t feel comfortable voicing their disapproval, feels Our Watch Ambassador, Tarang Chawla.

It is to combat this inertia that Our Watch has launched an interactive online video campaign to help Australians do something when they witness disrespect towards women.

The campaign, Doing nothing does harm, was developed in response to new research that revealed four in five Australians – 79 per cent; want practical tips on how to take positive bystander action, compared to only 14 per cent of Australians currently likely to act.

The campaign centrepiece is a series of short, interactive videos that recreate everyday situations and challenge the viewer to click “do something” when the conversation turns disrespectful.

The conclusion of each video is dependent on the viewer’s choice of action – or inaction.

Our Watch ambassador, Tarang Chawla talking to Bharat Times said that “the issue of gendered violence in this country is deeply personal.”

Tarang Chawla with sister Nikita Chawla (supplied)

In 2015, when my beautiful sister Nikita was just 23 years old she was brutally murdered by her partner – a man who professed to love her.”

Tarang is an Indian-born Australian writer and activist, who began advocating against men’s violence in 2015, following the murder of his sister, Nikita Chawla.

“The issue of violence against women has hit crisis levels in this country. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner and over 60 women have been killed this year.

“Every time it happens we’re left asking how this could have happened? And what can we do to stop another woman, like my sister Niki, from suffering the same fate.”

Tarang was the 2017 Young Australian of the Year finalist in Victoria for this work to prevent domestic violence. He is however, not immune to the multifaceted nature of the issue.

“As an Indian-born Australian, I also acknowledge that not all women experience the impacts of gender inequality or violence in the same way.

“Women from different backgrounds, races, religions, classes and sexual orientations can sometimes experience multiple layers of oppression depending on the context.

“The good news is that we can all do something to effect change in our own realm, by challenging everyday disrespect towards women when we see it.

Tarang, who recently contested the Victorian elections as an Independent from the South Eastern Metropolitan region said that “we all have the power to clearly demonstrate that sexist behaviours and attitudes cannot be tolerated.”

Tarang refers to research that proves “sexist attitudes and disrespect towards women contribute to a culture where violence against women is permissible.”

Doing nothing does harm provides Australians with practical tips about how to respond to casual sexism in a social environment, without being a ‘party pooper’.

Our Watch Chair, Natasha Stott Despoja AM, said the campaign aims to help people understand what disrespectful behaviour towards women looks like and how bystander inaction can imply acceptance.

“When everyday signs of disrespect go unchallenged, it is normalised, excused and tolerated,” Ms Stott-Despoja said.

“The defining message of the campaign is that no matter how big or small the action you take, we can all play a part in challenging disrespect,” she added.

For a deeper understanding of how people could act when they see disrespectful behaviour towards women view the Doing nothing does harm videos.

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000”

Shalini Singh

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