KATHMANDU, Jan 10: Occupy Baluwatar movement continued for the 14th day on Wednesday with participation from people from all walks of life. However, this would not have been possible without participation of one particular group -- the youths.
A database prepared by the campaigning committee shows the movement attracted a huge number of youths aged 18 to 25. More than 80 percent of the participants or campaigners who have been showing placards, chanting slogans, raising funds for publishing and distributing pamphlets or discussing and planning the next step are none other than the young masses.
As an evidence of this the committee provided Republica the names of the participants along with their age, phone numbers, emails and face book addresses. While around 500 people have been regularly participating in the protests in front of the Prime Minister´s residence in Baluwatar, only a few of them are above the age of 25.
“It is encouraging that this movement against violence against women is led by the youths. And it carries a very powerful and compelling message,” said executive director of Advocacy Forum Mandira Sharma, who has been part of the movement since the beginning.
“The message is clear -- the new generation is aware, concerned and wise as well. They will not tolerate injustice, gender based violence, anarchy or whatever in name of power and politics. They respect supremacy of the law and love violence free society and all this because they want to live in their own country.”
According to human rights activist Bandana Sharma, youths´ participation in the movement is testimony to their emotional attachment to the country. “I am not particularly surprised but we didn´t think the youths could be so sensitive about the issue. It is a very pleasant matter, a ray of hope in a country where everything else is going the wrong way,” said Rana.
“For a country to develop or prosper it needs a socially responsible young generation. And their enthusiasm being apparent in such a movement shows that our youths are ready to shoulder the responsibility,” commented Rana.
Youths have of course led the movement but this again would not have been possible without social networking sites which brought them together for the cause, remarked Ujjwal Thapa one of the popular campaigners of the movement.
“This is a digital world and messages spread across the world within a fraction of a second. This movement was no different,” Thapa said. “Ask these girls and boys how they came to know about Saraswati, Chhorimaiya or Sita and what pulled them here. It is the digital power, face book or SMS campaigning that turned the protests into a movement.”
Sunny Chand, 25: “I have been here from the first day. I wonder why some people are so ruthless or uncivilized that they do not hesitate to commit heinous crimes against another human being. But if there is evil, there are people who want to fight for justice, too. We are an educated lot. And I feel that we need to come out and speak against injustice. Regarding violence against women, I believe the media has started giving due importance to reports on violence against women. Earlier, due to various reasons, victims or their families would not raise their voice. But now as the media is reporting the issue and there is mass protest against violence against women, the victims have mustered up the courage to speak up and demand justice. Here, we have decided to fight till the end to ensure justice as the few cases that have been reported are representative of the many unreported ones.”
Kripa Shrestha, 21: - Coming to Baluwatar everyday to show placards, chant slogans or empathize with the victims give you deep satisfaction as if you are doing your bit to make the society better. Our main demand is justice to Saraswati Subedi, Sita Rai, Siba Hasmi, Chhorimaiya Maharjan and other unreported victims. What we want is a change in the way women are treated. They need to be treated with due respect. Their rights have to be ensured. I have participated for similar causes in the past. But the difference is, this time around, we are going to fight until the justice is done. I would also like to share that unlike what elder people think, today´s youth are conscious, responsible and equally patriotic. Here, during the two-hour demonstration we sing patriotic songs and we thoroughly enjoy it.
Shailendra Sah, 23: “This is the first time I have participated in a protest of this kind. Why I am supporting the campaign is because I want to help create a better place for women to live in. This campaign and the message it carries, would definitely help fight violence against women, boost their confidence and protect their dignity. I want a society where women are liberated and empowered. My wife, my sister, mother should be able to work outside freely and independently. Our social atmosphere should not be intimidating to women. Here I can see participation of so many males and youths that it makes me hopeful that tomorrow´s Nepal would definitely be better. Here we have gathered to speak for those whose voices would otherwise be suppressed. I wish such a situation will never occur in the future. One and all Nepali should be in position to speak against injustice.”