Serafina Schelker, student of the Master’s degree in Social Work, reports from the study trip to India.
Early in the morning, we are heading to the K. R. market in the old center of Bangalore. Lead by Michelle from the City Walk Company Unhurried and Vidyalakshmi, a Food Blogger from Bangalore, we explore the colors, smells, tastes and the sound of the market and the neighborhood around it with its eight gates and temples and the architectural and cultural influences of the earlier colonialism through Great Britain and France.
Asked by Michelle what we connect with Bangalore, there is a wide range of answers: Colorful, noisy, gardens and trees, rikshaw driving, tasteful and spicy food, horrible coffee, temples, friendly and talkative people, chaotic and loud traffic, flowers, melting pot for cultures and religions, cows, dogs and geese on the street, sarees, inspiring experiences, waste, hierarchy, hospitality, full of life and full of opposites.
And those opposites are remarkable. Not only the obvious opposite of poverty and wealth but also the opposite of the sexes. Although there is no such thing as «the man» or «the woman», as our lecturer pointed out, it seems that there is such a thing as discrimination of women in India.
Let me give you some examples:
- There are far more men than women to be seen in the public areas.
- Michelle and Vidyalakshmi worked in the IT-Sector until 2007, until the great worldwide recession. They both lost their job and had to create their own job perspectives. Nobody helped them.
- A group of genderstudies-students – most of them were women – explained that they try to gain a high education degree not to get a meaningful job but a well-educated husband.
- A woman, living in the rural areas and being part of a self-help group, described the success of the project in breaking the isolation she lived in, with not getting out of the house or talking even with guests inside her own home.
- Bosco Mane, a project for street children, points out, that there were fewer girls on the street, but their problems therefor were much more complicated and traumatic as sexual abuse, prostitution or child marriage.
The poor don’t exist in the society. The women do, but they don’t matter either, no matter what caste they belong to or social position they are holding. They try to raise their voices nevertheless, step by step, and we should be impressed by what they face and must bear while still trying to improve their situation. When we think and speak about Bangalore and India, about Opposites and Social Work, we have to focus on the situation of the women through the whole society. Because the Empowerment of the women is one of the key elements of Development and a matter of social Justice and Human Rights. And that’s what Social Work is about.