Stories

Anon-guy, you are a brave-heart for sharing this!

When your vehicle breaks down and you have to walk down through the creepiest lanes, you know how it feels like. It was around 2:30am when I was walking alone toward home. I observed a huge bike following me since long. It was either Bullet or Enfield— I don’t remember now. Near the dead-end, I was stopped by a huge man on the bike whose height could be 6’4+ and I was around 5’8. He was heavily built. I was thin and naturally, no match at all.

He was an army guy in late 30s. He flashed his bike’s light directly on my face. I knew what it was all about. I said: ‘yes’? He then said, without getting down from his bike: ‘Remember me?’ I said: ‘No’. He continued: ‘You chat on internet, don’t you?’ I said: ‘Yes, I do’. The man said: ‘exactly. I remember chatting with you on yahoo and have seen your face’. I replied: ‘I never do cam-chatting with anyone and I don’t chat at all with men or guys. I chat with the ones I know personally. So?’ and he said: ‘So, anything you say. You wanna do it here? Or you wanna come to my place like a good boy?’ I swear, my hands were trembling but I showed no sign of fear nor I pretended that I was brave. I tried to be as cool and normal as possible. I took out my mobile phone from my pocket and pretended to talk on the phone with my dad and told him where I was, and also told him that I am with a man from Army and asked my dad to note down his bike number as I lied to dad that he is helping me get home. To be very honest, there was no network on my mobile phone. Then I said: ‘My dad is around, if you could leave your number then maybe we could meet tomorrow? Or you can have my number?’ Without a word, he turned his bike and sped off. I ran like I never ran in my life toward home through the streets as dogs barked and chased me. Dogs felt like angels at that hour. I kept repeating as I ran: ‘I am proudda myself. I am proudda myself’. In fear. Extreme fear to be very honest. The trauma was short-lived. It ended as soon as I reached home but hatred and fear developed more.

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Stories

My ordeal in Rajdhani Express

Written by Garima Shrivastava Nag

3rd class people ( read some bullies ) in 2nd AC compartment of Rajdhani Express.  I was travelling in Rajdhani express from Mum to Del. Everything was ok until a group of men who had separate seats decided to change their’s with other so that they could travel together. A fat guy in spec was doing all the negotiations . He seemed fine at first .He was later joined by 3 more & that’s when the hell broke loose.

First of all they started with usual stare & giggle thing. I was accompanied by my hubby & kids. I felt a little uncomfortable but chose to ignore. Around dinner time, they occupied the upper berths & started playing music loud. Seems alright isn’t it . Well let me quote some of them here.

Fat guy , ” I am missing my wife yaar. Play that song. I always play it when I make love to her.
 Big guy with gold chains & watch , “Bhabhi ki yaad aa rahi hai ya Mumbai ki aayashi ki.’ All broke into scary laughter. Another one, ” Yaar is baar toh maza aaya. Sab kuch kiya matlab sab kuch.”
 
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This conversation is going on oblivious of the fact that a lady , I was in the lower berth, & small kids are sitting there. ) They brought some empty thermos from the pantry & started drinking. Throwing ground nut shells down carelessly as if no one is sitting down. I was furious but what could I hv done. My daughter was asking some questions to me & they were making fun of that ( I was disgusted )I asked my hubby to contact the TC & change the seats ( although those were our allotted seats ) . He went to look for TC. Mean while , The big Fat guy signaled the rest that my hubby has gone & started blabbering , “ Yaar , ash kar train apni hai. Jo chahe kar sakte hai . Mast reh. Tu bol toh train wapas Mumbai le chalu.” All the while staring at me . At this point I was little frighted. I tucked my kids close to me & waited for my husband. When He came back , the same big guy told him in threatening tone, ” Kuch problem thi toh humaey bolo TC ke paas kyu gaye .” My hubby said , ” Family hai saath mai.“. TC came & told them to behave. Did they ? . Not at all. Instead they started making fun of our helplessness. We kept quite.

It was close to 10.15. I put my kids to sleep & lied down. Big guy mockingly asked his friend who was on the upper berth right across me . “ Bhai Sahi hai na jagah, View mast hai ki nahi , pointing in my direction.” I felt disgusted to say the least . Forget about the choicest of cuss words they were using.

Through their conversation I came to know they were all married with kids , businessmen from some pahadganj area in delhi. We were going for a vacation & this is how our journey started . I so wanted to publish a blog post about this incident but chose not to . I don’t want any bitter memory on my blog.These are shameless bullies who think they own the train when they buy some tickets . Had we objected on anything, the situation could easily have gone ugly. I was scared as a woman, as a wife & as a mother. Don’t we all know if anything happens no one comes to your rescue. We kept quite because we were , yes I admit, AFRAID !

Women are not safe in broad daylight , office , home , anywhere for that matter . Safety in trains ? Its still a long way to go.These filthy lots are fearless. They think “ jayada se jayada kya hoga.Arrest . Paisa dekar choot jayege.”. We are living in a dangerous world . Sorry to say but even Ac coaches are nt safe. This country is not safe. We live in constant fear.

There is no immediate solution to this problem. We can continue the blame game. Change the mind set . Don’t shout only when your house is on fire. Think about others . Be responsive & caring. We are not animals who should just be concerned about two square meals & a place to curl ourselves up at night. We are bloody humans with brains & senses. Why we don’t use them is a thought to ponder 

I request you to share this post as many times as you can on different networking sites . We need people to listen, care & take notice of what is happening around them.Thanks for your understanding .

Things wont change until & unless we change our mental setup on individual basis. There is a FB page called ” NO Harassment Zone” (https://www.facebook.com/noharassmentzone) I won’t ask you to like or join it .But DO have a look . My purpose of starting that page is to share such experiences & possibles ways to tackle the situations. I was shocked & baffled up when this incident happened with me. I am sure by sharing our experiences with people , we might spread some awareness or at least prepare women & girls to face such situation in a different way. Pls share your experiences on that page & suggest how do you think it can be checked & curbed. Thank you again for showing your support.

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Uncategorized

Rising Against Cat-calling

Cat-calling is one of the most common forms of street harassment that goes unreported and accepted due to the notion that it is not an issue and therefore, trivialized as a non problem.

Aradhana Chand realized that the problem of verbal abuse (catcalling) in street sexual harassment is most rampant and least addressed and reported. Women face it so often that they become oblivious to it happening and learn to ignore it instead of standing against it. This also gives men the notion that they can most easily get away with it since no action is taken and there is paucity of evidence.

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She went around town stopping various women on the street and asked them to participate in the campaign against eve-teasing (since that is the term they are most well versed with, even though it belittles the gravity of the act of sexual harassment) and whether they could remember an instance that happened with them and the comment or song that they had come across.

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‘She’s number one, Boss!’

Most women agreed to having been harassed at some point in life but couldn’t remember what they had heard. Some said they deliberately couldn’t remember what had happened since such things are best forgotten. One woman said, “Such things don’t happen in this part of town”, which was very surprising since Aradhana had herself experienced it.

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‘I’ve got a mother and sister at home but not you.’

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‘You’re looking hot.’

A college student said that as a child she had learnt through films to say “Ghar mein maa behen nahi hain kya?” (Do you not have a mother or sister at home?) and when she took the courage to turn around and say this to the man who sang a song to her, he responded with a smirk saying, “Ghar mein maa behen hain par tu nahi hai.” (I have a mother and sister at home, but not you). This kind of shamelessness is appalling.

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‘What a package!’

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‘Give me your number.’

The women who remembered what they heard were asked to write it down on a white board and asked to pose for a photograph trying to remember the way they felt when they were harassed.  One woman asked me to not post her picture on the internet since she didn’t want her husband to see it. It was shocking to see that women had to be embarrassed to talk about such an issue with their close ones too.

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'You're a fine thing.'

‘You’re a fine thing.’

This started off as a project about an issue that Aradhana thought should be thrown light on, but ended up becoming much more than that. A lot of women took time off and told her the whole story and how they had felt and reacted. She felt a connect with them through this project and realized it could go on to become a larger platform to give voice to women facing harassment on streets.

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Column

D-I-Y Pepper Spray & Simple Self-Defense techniques

Written by G Anurag Rao

With steady rise in sexual harassment cases over the nation, and with the number of rapes only increasing, it is prudent that the women of today are aware of certain basic self-defence tactics and also to make sure that basic defence equipment such as pepper-sprays are easily available. Of late, more and more women are approaching and undertaking various self defence classes and workshops. Certain women, due to their training in martial arts and self defence remain untouched by prying men.

However, most women today are not taking up these courses just for self defence but as a hobby that they like and enjoy.

Since pepper-sprays are not easily available in India, 2 girls decided to formulate Do-It-yourself (DIY) pepper-spray post molestation in their own social circle.

D.I.Y PEPPER SPRAY:

How to prepare your own do it yourself pepper-spray:

  • Boil the chilli pepper with water on low flame for 15 minutes. Remove the chillies and strain the solution to get rid of the seeds. Now add 2 tsps. of freshly grounded pepper to the solution. Your killer mixture is ready.
  • CAUTION: Make sure none of this reaches your own eyes. Also make sure to cover your face with a mask while brewing. Wash hands thoroughly after.
  • Spray paint the water preferably spray neon or you could paint the can neon to make it completely easy to find the can of pepper spray in your bag. It makes no sense hunting in your bag when someone is trying to grope you.
  • Allow it to dry and fill it with solution.
  • The mixture could work well for two weeks after which it is recommended to replenish it.

‘Meera and Purvi are the two bloggers who formulated the D.I.Y formula on (twomaterialgirls.tumblr.com/) (twomaterialgirls.tumblr.com/post/27317744741/how-toreduce-a-molester-to-tears)’

“I have been associated with Judo for over the past 12 years. My training has helped me achieve a sense of security, strength and confidence irrespective of where I am. Physically, I feel much stronger than many others and this has in turn boosted my morale and self-confidence.” Shares Vaidanti (17)

Sara, a make-up artist is a Portugal citizen who has been in the city for the past 7 years. “Martial arts for me, has been an early childhood passion. It soon turned into a hobby. Apart from self defence, the sessions have given me plenty of focus and awareness. My mind and body feel much sharper and my concentration levels have dramatically increased.” She adds, “It is also a great way to blow off some steam. The other advantage now, is the feeling of control and to be able to handle any sticky situations thrown at me. I know that if someone tries to take advantage of me, I can surely incorporate the moves I’ve learnt and put them in place. Also, I believe anyone; especially women can take it up as it is extremely beneficial for the body and for self confidence.”

“Judo is all about positivity. A woman who chooses to learn martial arts is unknowingly choosing to protect herself. Her vibes, her confidence, her walk, and her aura- everything changes and becomes stronger and less vulnerable. When you are all positive within, you’d never attract the attention of those unwanted men. They will automatically stay away. Martial arts make you feel strong and that’s all you need to protect yourself.” Shared a B.A student from Mithibhai College.

Viira cabs, women based cabs agency that understands the matter of security has employed an all women staff and women drivers for its company.

“The women who are employed here come from different backgrounds and different places. To them, a vehicle is a gizmo they do not understand. They are trained not only to drive but are also trained in martial arts by an in-house karate instructor.” Said Preeti Sharma, M.D of Viira cabs when asked about the security issues of these women.

But not most receive this sort of training. They often depend on others around who may or may not be of much help. So a few simple steps could not only help keep women out of trouble but also help them gain a level of confidence.

SELF-DEFENCE:

Precautions are always a better option but in case you do come across an assailant, a pepper-spray may not always be as useful as hand-leg coordination combat in certain situations.

  • Force: Even an 80-year old person can successfully deliver a groin pull or eye gouge. Nevertheless, the more force you can generate, the safer you will be. Strength is not always necessary for self-defence skills.
  • Speed: Speed is an element of good timing. Because the assailant will most likely be larger and stronger than you, the element of surprise is necessary. This does not mean that you must always react immediately. If you can talk to the assailant, ask, “What do you want?” Then pose no threat, and pretend to cooperate. Wait until you can react properly, and then deploy an attack with all the speed you can generate. If you panic and cannot remember what to do, do nothing. Do not struggle. Simply wait until you remember. Follow-through: If you must fight, plan to follow through with kicks, blows, and jabs until the assailants totally immobile. If attackers are not incapacitated, they become enraged and more vicious than before. Remember, the primary objective is to escape from danger.
  • Vulnerable Areas: These vulnerable areas on a person’s body are recommended targets; a blow to any of these will incapacitate, not just hurt, an attacker. Eyes, nose, neck, groin, knees.

These basic defence tactics have been shared by Mr. Vikram Kapoor from KravMaga India. He is the Managing Director of Ultimate Tactical and Combat PVT Ltd;

It is a firm catering to military, combat gear, training, equipment and various security related services.

KravMaga is a highly effective, battle tested Israeli system of defensive tactics, fighting skills and self-defense. It is used by all major special units in the military, law enforcement and also the civilian sector. It is based on natural reflexes, easy to learn irrespective of strength, size, age or gender.

Credits: G Anurag Rao is a journalist. He can be reached at gr.anurag2@gmail.com

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Achievements, Uncategorized

Mumbai Pride Walk 2014 and Press!

Mumbai Pride Walk 2014 details:

When: Saturday, 1/02/2014

Time to Assemble: 3 pm

What time will The March begin: About 4 pm

Where will we march to : From August Kranti Maidan to Opera House, then on to footpath till Girgaum Chowpatty

Who will lead us: The QAM Banner and the Giant Pride Flag.

Where to Assemble: At August Kranti Maidan . Collect your posters and banner that you would like to march with . Get your mini Pride Flags

How do we know that the March has begun: The banner and the flag start marching . The security volunteers will start telling you to join in the march behind the flag .

What Happens next: Nashik Dhols start at the Nana Chowk and the march has begun.

On arrival at Opera House: Balloons will be released marking end of the walk, from here we walk on the footpath till Girgaum Chowpatty

On arrival at Chowpatty: Talk, have fun , disperse in a while and then join the Post Pride Party.

Join: https://www.facebook.com/events/615627001839571/

Mumbai, do attend and show solidarity, it’s a great event to celebrate true colors!

Also, we are featured on the home page of popular social causes Indian webzine Halabol this week.

http://voices.halabol.com/2014/01/28/fight-harassment-lets-hollaback

 

Do check out both and be part of change!

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/615627001839571/

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Initiatives

Reclaim The Streets|Reclaim Your Right|Demand The #RightRepublic

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Where: http://tweetchat.com/room/RightRepublic

As we enter the 65th year of our Republic, Hollaback Mumbai wants to raise few impertinent questions in a democratic India.

Questions:

We debate on why India, even after 65 years of being a constitutionalised democratic republic not able to provide safe public spaces to its citizens?

Why we continue to face discrimination due to gender, sexual, caste, class & regional identities?

Why we still struggle for equality & freedom on the streets?

We want to know why our discrimination on the streets is tolerated?

Solutions:

We explore ways to making India safer for ALL.

We raise the bar for equality in public spaces.

We, as people of different color, caste, region, gender and sexual orientation demand our rights to be safe in public spaces.

We want to end this prejudiced attitude of our own people.

WE WANT THE #RIGHTREPUBLIC!

Join us for a Tweet-a-thon this Sunday, January 26th, 2 pm IST and let’s find these answers together.

Hashtag: #RightRepublic

Handle: @hollabackmumbai

FB Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/495074763938768/

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Inspiration, Stories

Stop calling it “eve teasing”. You are being molested, not teased.

This is so empowering that we had to re-blog. This brave lady not only opens one’s eyes to the facts of our lives but empowers everyone who reads this beyond words. If you have the will, do try and answer some of her questions that are way too impertinent to be left ignored.

Re-blogged from http://therestlessquill.blogspot.in/

I don’t know how many women can safely say that they have never been molested in their lives. If they’ve been out in a public space, it doesn’t matter what they are wearing, whether they are in great shape, whether they’re lovely to look at or just plain, they will have been grabbed.

Very often, when the question of molestation comes up, everyone loves to label a city safe or unsafe, depending on what frame of mind they are in. I find it astoundingly silly and baffling that the basis for deeming a city safe (or unsafe, as the case may be) depends on incidence of reported rape and other attacks. In a city like Bombay, which I will vouch for as more or less safe for women, for the most bit, I was molested in more ways than one.

Once, I stopped to ask for directions and this creep, who would have been barely 20, said he didn’t know what I was asking about, stuck his hand out, grabbed my breast and ran. Unfortunately for him, my reflexes are still in decent condition. Couple that with roar-inducing rage, I chased him down, got him by his shirt and beat him up in every way I know. Kicked, slapped and punched him with one of these in my hand. Not only is that a hair-ornament, but it’s my most effective protection against molestors. He got away after a bit but I think I damaged him enough for him to remember not to touch a girl for a while, unless she wants to be touched.

On the local train, if I ever got into the compartment where there were also men, more often than not, I dragged an offender out with me. The thing with these guys is most of them don’t start on you till the train stops at a station, when the crowd is moving and shifting. They grab you just as you are getting or they’re getting out, hoping you don’t realise what happens. So I usually am prepared for an attack; drag them out and starting hitting him and/or abusing him till a crowd gathers and takes over. Which is why I love Bombay. A woman’s word is gospel. At least in my experience. As opposed to Bangalore, where the men look at you as if you’ve just offended them by even existing. What a hostile mean city Bangalore has been for me.

Another time in Bombay, a friend sat alone in the first class compartment a little late at night, going towards Town (South Bombay). For those who have done that will know why it’s a bad idea. First class is the perfect option during peak hours but a really bad idea late at night because it’s practically empty. Also after 8 p.m. (or is it 7?) men are allowed in ladies’ compartments as well. So there she was hoping to reach home without any incident, when a man comes and plonks himself opposite her, whips out his penis and starts masturbating in front of her. I can’t remember if I have mentioned this here before but it is the most disgusting story of molestation I heard from someone I know. I am not including child abuse and incest stories because that is way beyond molestation.

Yet another time, I’ve been kissed by someone in a senior position who I worked for. He had joined me and a friend for dinner, conversation went very well. I don’t know if we had similar interests or he was just being polite and attentive. But the evening ended with him insisting he drop us girls. I lived really far off from where we were having dinner and after much protest (I really was perfectly okay with going home alone at 1 a.m. Still am.) we decided it would be churlish not to accept and so we were dropped back. My colleague was dropped off first and as I lived farther, I was alone with him till we got home. We chatted about this and that, I got told I was charming etc etc. And then, just as I said goodnight and was about to step out of the car, after a cursory, polite thank-you peck on the cheek, I was at the receiving end of a full-on adult kiss, with a little tongue thrown in. To say that I did not expect it at all is understatement. To my shame, I didn’t report it. Don’t ask me why. Maybe because there was no violence, maybe because he was always so polite and gentle before and after. Maybe because he did major damage control after that, but I didn’t report it. I am still confused today as to why I didn’t.

And I am not even talking about things like talking to my breasts instead of talking to me, exposing yourself to me or texting me to say when you are drunk that you want to “fuck me” (a colleague in Bombay called Manoj did this. And he found my number through someone else. Unfortunately, I forgot his last name. His poor wife had gone off to have a baby or something), and being hearing lewd things being said as I or some other woman walked past.

My questions are these:

1. What is it that makes some men violate a woman’s personal space and touch her? Who gives them the right to do that and think it’s bloody okay?
2. What is it that separates a molester from a regular man? What makes two men look at a woman and react in two different ways: One checks her out, finds her appealing and stops with that, while the other one reaches out and touches her? What is that essential difference? Lack of control? Lack of decency? Bad upbringing? A disdain for women?
3. Do they also look at the women in their home with the same filth in their eyes with which they look at my breasts or butt or thighs? I mean to ask do these men who touch women without their permission on the streets also touch their women — mothers, wives, sisters — at home? Are these, in effect, perpetrators of incest? Or is it just other women they feel comfortable grabbing?
4. Are women responsible for these men having absolutely no fear to touch, grope, or expose themselves to women? Have years of “just ignore him” behaviour emboldened these men to do as they please? Would a man think twice if he had been beaten by a woman for touching her or passing a lewd comment at her?
5. If I have some male readers, can you please come out on this and tell me what treatment — extreme or otherwise — would deter a man from molesting a woman?
6. Is this restricted to developing countries and others such as Oman alone or do developed countries see molestation in such a daily, on the street, everyday manner?

As a result, when I walk alone, I walk with all my senses on alert. I walk with aggression and hold a bag or something protectively against me, with my elbows ever-ready to shove someone in case they touch me. Do you know how stressful it is to walk like that, protecting yourself constantly, without letting your guard down? Do you realise how painful it is to think that you can’t enjoy a good walk alone for the fear of being touched by a creep? Do you realise how restricting, how rage-inducing, how utterly defeating it is to be that way every day? Do men understand why some women in countries where roadside molestation is rampant hold on to their men tight? Why they ask their men to ask for directions, buy a pack of cigarettes or walk half a step behind, very close to their men?

A friend wrote in to tell me molestation is an issue that needs to be told again and again and again. Men, just ask the women in your life how it makes them feel, even better, think about how you feel when one them is attacked. Women, the more we talk the more courage we can instill in those who won’t retaliate. Will women who read this please take two extra minutes to just comment and not leave before they do? Only for this post, please. If the men (if there are more than three) also can take the time I’ll be very grateful.

I am just trying to understand if India, because it is so varied, has such elements and because by and large we don’t have dress codes, that this happens to women. Does wearing an abaya, being brought up in a mostly segregated society and not having as many freedoms as women from other places have its advantages as far as molestation is concerned?

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Uncategorized

Hollaback Mumbai launches Campus Ambassador Program- 2014

imagesHollaback Mumbai is the regional chapter of a Hollaback! movement that fights street harassment globally. We believe that without active participation of youth change cannot happen. For the first time, we are building an opportunity for young college-going students from various parts of the city to partake in this responsibility towards making Mumbai a safe harassment-free space for its citizens.

If you are one of those college-going youngsters who believe in working towards a better Mumbai, this is just the opportunity for you.

What makes a good Hollaback Mumbai Ambassador?

  • The confidence to communicate with a range of community groups, from school children to housewives, and to lead meetings in their respective colleges and neighborhoods.

  • A commitment to HB Mumbai’s values, vision and mission.

  • Excellent organizational and communication skills.

  • Good presentation and analytical abilities

  • A proven interest in social science research, social media, outreach, fundraising and volunteering.

  • Self-motivated and driven for change

  • A passion for women’s and LGBTQ issues

  • Pro-active and self-driven

  • Regular access to email to ensure the prompt sending of actions and information to rest of the group.

  • The willingness to build local links with speakers, volunteers & other HB Mumbai supporters

  • The willingness to be the first point of contact for new volunteers, to meet them and introduce them to the group

  • The willingness to support new coordinators and share experiences with them to enable us to grow our volunteer network locally.

Why should I become an ambassador?

  • An opportunity to become a member of an international movement and connect with international activists and change-makers.

  • A chance to experience hands-on training on media, communication, research, fundraising and advocacy

  • An opportunity to become a part of a growing network

  • Opportunity to contribute and implement your ideas at national and international level

  • Stories from the field to show how you are helping us empower local people.

What support is on offer?

  • Working directly with HB Mumbai main team

  • Access to Hollaback! resources, webinars and networking with the international team

  • Peer to peer support from Hollaback chapters across India

  • Connections with other volunteers in your local community

  • Meeting/workshop/online resources that would guide on advocacy, fundraising, capacity building, scientific journals etc

If this is the kind of exposure you are looking for, don’t delay, APPLY NOW.

For any enquiries/clarifications, email: mumbai@ihollaback.org

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