Mallika Dutt http://www.mallikadutt.com Thu, 05 May 2016 13:55:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 My G Word Story of Trauma and Healing http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/05/g-word-story-trauma-healing/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/05/g-word-story-trauma-healing/#comments Thu, 05 May 2016 13:55:23 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2349

On Friday, I told my own G WORD story at the Breakthrough Gala. It wasn’t easy. I stepped into it anyway. I wanted to share it with all of you.

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I never wanted to cook.  When I did, I would always burn something or hurt myself. Several accidents ...

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On Friday, I told my own G WORD story at the Breakthrough Gala. It wasn’t easy. I stepped into it anyway. I wanted to share it with all of you.

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I never wanted to cook.  When I did, I would always burn something or hurt myself. Several accidents later, I decided that I simply wasn’t going to cook – my way of helping in the kitchen was washing dishes and cleaning up. I was fortunate to have roommates from grad school to law school who were happy to cook. Amy, my law school roommate, even learned how to make Indian food. My ex-husband Daniel did all the cooking through our 20-year marriage. It was almost a feminist badge of honor – that I didn’t have to be in the kitchen where all the women hung out.

And then two years ago, I remembered a long buried childhood memory that helped me to understand why I had so many accidents in the kitchen. When I was seven, my grandmother’s cook, Bahadur, started to sexually touch me. My grandmother lived in the top floor of our family building, and Bahadur would take me to the staircase leading up to the roof. Those moments became our secret. My seven-year-old mind did not know how to process anything. I had no words to explain the shame and naughty secret of what was happening. He often smelled of onions or different kinds of oil and masalas; as a result, I began to avoid going into the kitchen.

That experience had all kinds of repercussions on my life – that I could not cook was only one. The memory of those staircase moments with Bahadur emerged during a healing circle where dear friends held me as I sobbed.

I share this story because the work we do is to discover the effect of gender on our lives. These individual stories and experiences live on in the forms of trauma. They live on through cultural norms and values based on fear and scarcity that dictate what boys and girls should do and how men and women should live. They become processes, structures and systems that lead to multiple forms of violence and abuse and inequity.  Enough is enough. It’s time for culture change.

When we share our stories, we generate new possibilities. When we share our stories, we heal, connect at an emotional level, and find shared meaning. When we become storytellers, we begin to create new stories – ones that give birth to new norms and new ways of being. Stories can transform culture so that we shift narratives, and change behaviours, practices and structures.

A few days after the memory of my sexual abuse returned and I connected the dots to my kitchen accidents, I received an enormous kitchen knife from a friend in my healing circle. It took a little time to shift the muscles in my body to get comfortable while I chopped and stirred. And I still burnt a few things. But now I can have three things on the stove while I sip from a glass of wine and chat on the phone.

You all know me as a warrior and a strong advocate for human rights.  And now you have also met the molested little girl who healed that wound – and you’ve met a woman who can make a mean dal.

I invite you to open your hearts and to share your own stories with one another. As we heal and create new meaning, we will be the generation that dreams a new world into being. One that is built on respect, love, and compassion for all humans and for all the incredible beings with whom we share this beautiful earth.

Every day, I close my zazen meditation with this mantra:

Lokesh Samastah Sukhino Bhanvantu

May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May all my thoughts words actions contribute in some way to the happiness and freedom of all beings.

 

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How Do I Blog From Inside A Box? http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/how-do-i-blog-from-inside-a-box/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/how-do-i-blog-from-inside-a-box/#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2016 16:26:32 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2327 It’s that day. Thursday. The day I committed to publishing a weekly blog post.  There’s this personal voice that wants to emerge and yet it’s so bloody hard. I am trying to hold myself accountable, so this morning I posted my inability to do so on Facebook:

Within minutes, I ...

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It’s that day. Thursday. The day I committed to publishing a weekly blog post.  There’s this personal voice that wants to emerge and yet it’s so bloody hard. I am trying to hold myself accountable, so this morning I posted my inability to do so on Facebook:

Within minutes, I am surrounded by love. So here I am, encouraged by friends on Facebook, encouraged by their reaction to my struggle, encouraged to just go ahead and write anyway:

I have tears streaming down my face as I write this and I have no idea why I am crying. There’s a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball that won’t let me breathe.

Voices in my head always tell me – “There should be a theme that you share. A beginning, a middle, and an end. A personal story that takes the reader along to a place of connection and action.” I know all this. I’ve been producing multimedia storytelling for more than 15 years now. Breakthrough has become known for storytelling, and has been recognized globally as a result of my years of this work. Awards abound, for which I am so grateful.

And yet, when I have to speak in my voice, tell my story, share my perspective, something inside me just unravels. The warrior who stands for human rights becomes a frightened little mouse when faced with speaking of my own humanity. I find myself hidden inside a box closed in on all four sides as I gaze longingly at the sky. If I jump high enough, maybe I can jump out. But the fear of being seen keeps me paralyzed. I stay in the box. I write anyway.

This is all I can share today. Thank you for the love and encouragement that got me this far. I am publishing my Thursday blog after all.

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Collisions: Why We Need Fierce Compassion for Our Planet http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/collisions-why-we-need-fierce-compassion-for-our-planet/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/collisions-why-we-need-fierce-compassion-for-our-planet/#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2016 14:20:14 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2297 Fierce compassion. The theme for the 2016 Skoll World Forum came into dramatic relief for me when I stepped into the world of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan of the Martu tribe, in the remote Pilbara desert of western Australia.

I had made a promise to myself that I would ...

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Fierce compassion. The theme for the 2016 Skoll World Forum came into dramatic relief for me when I stepped into the world of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan of the Martu tribe, in the remote Pilbara desert of western Australia.

I had made a promise to myself that I would experience the virtual reality world of Collisions while I was the Skoll World Forum. I love shiny new things, especially when they converge with my passion for storytelling through multimedia. As an added bonus, Collisions intersects with my newfound commitment to indigenous medicine through my emerging practice as an energy healer.

I settled into my chair and put on the glasses and headphones with deep anticipation. I had already had powerful conversations with filmmaker Lynette Wallworth, which gave me a sense of the craft and vision that she brought to her work. And yet, nothing prepared me for the completely immersive and visceral experience of arriving in the vast Australian desert and connecting with the land through the eyes of the stewards who seek to protect and nurture it.

“Collisions” with Dolby Atmos and Jaunt VR from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

Here’s how the filmmaker describes Collisions:

Collisions is a virtual reality journey to the land of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe in the remote Western Australian Pilbara desert. The Martu lived largely untouched by Western culture until the 1960’s. Nyarri’s first contact with Western culture came in the 1950’s via a dramatic collision between his traditional world view and the cutting edge of Western science and technology, when he witnessed first hand and with no context, an atomic test. Nyarri offers us a view to what he saw, and, reflecting on this extraordinary event, shares his perspective on the Martu way to care for the planet. Collisions focuses on the needs of future generations, as we dive head-long into the fourth industrial revolution.

As the bodies of kangaroos flew through the air after the nuclear explosion witnessed by Nyarri, I felt my heart break and then break again. Each thud was a reminder that this was wrought by us humans. I was overwhelmed by fierce compassion – for myself, for the kangaroos, and for the Martu tribe.

Can these immersive experiences be a link from self to planet in way that ignites fierce compassion strongly enough to interrupt our headlong fall into extinction?

Nyarri Morgan. Photo credit: Piers Mussared

Can virtual reality be the journey that each one of us embarks upon to create different possibilities and outcomes?

Can we learn from our indigenous elders and create a sustainable future based on fierce compassion for all beings that inhabit this planet?

Collisions certainly gives me inspiration and hope that we can bring ancient technologies together with modern ones to dream a new world into being.

Watch Collisions on Jaunt with your own VR headset.
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Social Entrepreneurship Meets Fierce Compassion at Skoll World Forum http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/social-entrepreneurship-meets-fierce-compassion-at-skoll-world-forum/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/social-entrepreneurship-meets-fierce-compassion-at-skoll-world-forum/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 15:07:50 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2289 Today, I received the 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship for Breakthrough. I have been blessed with deep recognition over my years of work to end violence against women and advance human rights. This award, however, holds great resonance for me as I understand better the intersections between the ...

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Today, I received the 2016 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship for Breakthrough. I have been blessed with deep recognition over my years of work to end violence against women and advance human rights. This award, however, holds great resonance for me as I understand better the intersections between the Skoll Foundation’s understanding of equilibrium shift and my own rootedness in the idea of culture change.

I’ve resisted orthodoxies of any sort for most of my life. While being deeply steeped in global movements for human rights, I wanted to experiment with media, arts and culture to engage larger constituencies with its values. That experiment, in the form of Mann ke Manjeere: an album of women’s dreams, led to the creation of Breakthrough which adopted as its mandate: building a global culture of human rights by using culture to change culture.

My Breakthrough journey has included experimenting with multiple technologies and storytelling to shift narratives, engage people at scale, and change culture. We created ICED, the first 3D video game on detention and deportation,, and Bell Bajao, one of the first global campaigns calling on men to challenge violence against women. We embrace the lens of intersectionality to explore connections between race, gender, and class through our work on college campuses. In 150 schools in Haryana, we’re shifting gender norms that lead to an alarmingly skewed sex ratio. Along the way, we’re constantly learning and adapting by asking tough questions about our effectiveness through methodologies ranging from intensive randomized control tests to quick Facebook polls.

I have come to believe that to dream a new world into being, we must engage in culture change. Culture change is about shifting cultural beliefs and practices that lead to violence and discrimination. That shift requires not only dismantling current norms that come from patriarchal mindsets of fear and scarcity but also creating new norms and practices that are based on interconnectedness, compassion, and love. Dismantling the gender norms that underlie so much of the violence and discrimination in this world is key

I discovered great resonance between my approach to culture change with that of the Skoll Foundation’s understanding of equilibrium shift as laid out so beautifully in Getting Beyond Better by Roger Martin and Sally Osberg. Their description of how social entrepreneurs challenge the equilibrium of unjust systems and transform them into new equilibria through disruption and change has provided me with a new map and new tools to understand and describe my own journey with Breakthrough.

As I receive this award, I embrace the connections between social entrepreneurship and movement building, culture change and equilibrium change. I am honored to be a part of this global community of disruptors and change-makers and to bring the issue of gender-based violence into the world of social entrepreneurship. Our shared belief that “even the most intractable problem offers an opportunity for change” is a mantra that I hold onto every single day. I remain deeply committed to building a world where all beings can thrive. This award expands my sense of partnership and companionship on this journey.

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How Losing My Friend Showed Me That All Violence is Connected http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/how-losing-my-friend-showed-me-that-all-violence-is-connected/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/04/how-losing-my-friend-showed-me-that-all-violence-is-connected/#comments Thu, 07 Apr 2016 14:22:20 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2270 On September 13, 2015, I woke up to headlines about the Egyptian Army bombing a group of Mexican tourists in the desert. It wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered that one of the people who were killed was a very dear friend of mine. His name was Rafael ...

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On September 13, 2015, I woke up to headlines about the Egyptian Army bombing a group of Mexican tourists in the desert. It wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered that one of the people who were killed was a very dear friend of mine. His name was Rafael Bejarano, an incredible healer. A shaman. A musician. That a random, bizarre incident in the Egyptian desert could intimately and deeply affect my life was once again a reminder of how interconnected our lives are.

And so it is with the work that we do to end violence in New York City and around the world. Our lives, no matter where we are, are intimately interconnected. The local is global and the global is local. The cultural norm of violence against women is universal. We might have different variations on the theme, but at its fundamental core it is really the outcome of a patriarchal world order that we deal with over and over again.

You might be wondering why I’m sharing Rafael’s death as an example of the interconnectedness of violence against women.  After 30 years of working to challenge gender-based violence, I have come to believe that the violence we live with on a daily basis starts with the way in which violence is perpetrated and allowed in the home. This is the place where the first distinction between human beings gets made: between men and women. This is where the notion of “other” gets created. This is where the paradigm of one group of people (men) having power over another group of people (women) comes into existence. Boys grow up thinking that to be masculine means to be tough. Violence becomes a legitimate way to assert power and resolve conflict; this leads to intimate partner violence as a global pandemic.

Violence against children in the home is also a pandemic. If violence is allowed within the home, then I believe it is no accident that we then watch violence play itself out in gangs, on the streets, through terrorism, in the army, in wars, and in the multi-billion dollar arms trade. It’s all connected.

In our work to end violence against women, we often see intimate partner violence as a phenomenon between a couple. In reality, it is something that affects every aspect of how we come together as human beings and live together on this planet.

We already know that violence against women is a human rights issue. We know that it’s about women’s public and political participation and their ability to step into the economic system. I posit that it is actually more than that. Violence against women is at the core of the value system of how we live our lives, how we treat one another, how we treat other species, and how we treat the planet itself.

I understand that the work that I do to change the culture and norms that lead to violence against women is deeply connected to Rafael’s death. We must bring gender into the conversation if we are to dream a new world into being.

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Storytelling, Advocacy, and the Legacy of Berta Cáceres http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/03/storytelling-advocacy-and-the-legacy-of-berta-caceres/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/03/storytelling-advocacy-and-the-legacy-of-berta-caceres/#comments Thu, 31 Mar 2016 15:45:43 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2236 Sometimes a story comes along and punches you in the gut.  When that happens to me, it’s usually because of a powerful storyteller who weaves a narrative arc that connects self and purpose, vulnerability and transformation.

I was punched in the gut recently when a young woman called Berta Zúñiga ...

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Sometimes a story comes along and punches you in the gut.  When that happens to me, it’s usually because of a powerful storyteller who weaves a narrative arc that connects self and purpose, vulnerability and transformation.

I was punched in the gut recently when a young woman called Berta Zúñiga Cáceres (known as Bertita) shared the story of her mother’s assassination on March 18 at the global launch of Breakthrough’s storytelling platform, THE G WORD.

Bertita’s mother, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, was a warrior for the land and a healer for our planet. She was born on March 4, 1973 in La Esperanza in Honduras and co-founded the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras in 1993.

Berta Zúñiga Cáceres speaks at the United Nations launch of THE G WORD on March 18.

Berta was assassinated on March 3 of this year at the age of 43. She was silenced because she stood up for this earth, for women, and for all beings on this planet.

When Bertita began to speak, I knew that I was in the presence of a powerful storyteller and an extraordinary leader.  It had been less than two weeks since her mother was gunned down and this is what she had to say:

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“All of the life lessons that I have learned, I learned from my mother.

Berta pushed me, and she taught me to open my mind and deeply comprehend the struggles of everyone, and to understand that everyone is me.

Berta taught me not to have prejudices, not to have discrimination, not to indulge in stigmas, and to celebrate and learn from the difference – different realities and different persons. I think this was one of her most beautiful qualities – she harvested knowledge, she harvested wisdoms from all over the world and she applied it to her struggle.

Berta was well aware of the dangers that she faced, but she was not going to let them stop her. Caring for us was part of her global project because she knew that what she was doing, she wasn’t just doing for herself or for us or for her people, but that her struggle was for the whole world. That’s why we should include, just as she did, a consciousness of the whole world.

When I found out she had been assassinated, despite the pain I felt, I felt that she was with me. I still feel that she’s with me. That is why I am redoubling my efforts to struggle for justice.

That sums up Berta’s message for women but also for men, which is, yes, when you defend life you may be killed. But thanks to all of the beauty and power and solidarity that Berta wove, thanks to that sisterhood, I am here today to continue to help the world hear the voice of Berta and the clamor for justice.”

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Bertita’s powerful storytelling, and the memory of Berta Cáceres, invite connections and urgent stories of advocacy for our planet and for one another. Stories are a way in which we can reinvent ourselves, change the way we define ourselves, and dream a new world into being.  I invite you to share your story of transformation on THE G WORD.

The assassins did not understand that killing Berta would only amplify her voice.

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Effective Activism Needs Self-Care http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/03/effective-activism-needs-self-care/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2016/03/effective-activism-needs-self-care/#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2016 14:20:07 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2168

Last summer, I had my very first sabbatical. It was the first time in three decades of human rights advocacy that I had the opportunity to step away from the work that I have been doing in order to reflect, travel, and replenish my body and my soul.

On a ...

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Last summer, I had my very first sabbatical. It was the first time in three decades of human rights advocacy that I had the opportunity to step away from the work that I have been doing in order to reflect, travel, and replenish my body and my soul.

On a beautiful June day, while I was hiking in the Sacred Valley in Peru towards the Salinas de Maras (the salt flats), I found myself crying. I wept for four hours as I walked through beautiful terrain surrounded by a ring of snow capped mountains. It was as if a dam had burst and I was releasing years and years of pain, anger, trauma, rage, fear and shame. My own experiences of violence and abuse intermingled with the thousands of stories of other women and men that I had interacted with over the years and were like a torrent gushing out of my body.

As I put one step in front of the other, almost blinded by my tears, I felt a hand come and support my back. Chino, one of the Quero shamans, who was accompanying us on the hike had seen my distress and had come to comfort and support me. And with him came the whispers and caresses of the mountain apus, the mountain spirits. “Let it all out.” “There’s no need to hold this in your body.” “Give us the pain, we will transform it.” “Use our presence to regenerate.” “We are here to heal you.”

Chino whispered the names of the mountains as we walked through the valley: Wakay Willca, Veronica, Mount Chicon, Sawasiray, Pitusiray, Puma Wanca, Salcantay, Humantay. Each apu had its own medicine. I received courage, compassion, trust, vulnerability, strength, power, stillness, grace even as I cried.

By the time we reached the salt flats, the grief had receded and a kind of quiet stillness had come over me. My heart was tender and open – almost like a long festering sore had been lanced and the poison released.

One of the biggest lessons and gifts that I received from the Sacred Valley was the realization that it is imperative for all of us to heal the pain and trauma that we carry in order for us to truly imagine new worlds and new ways of being. The culture of fear and scarcity is the sea within which we swim. And therefore, for us to be effective dreamers, visionaries and warriors for change, self-care is essential. After all, if we do not heal ourselves, how can we imagine and dream a new world into being?

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Mallika speaks at UN Women Commemoration to end VAW http://www.mallikadutt.com/2015/12/mallika-speaks-at-un-women-commemoration-to-end-vaw/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2015/12/mallika-speaks-at-un-women-commemoration-to-end-vaw/#comments Thu, 03 Dec 2015 22:55:14 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2125 On Wednesday, 25 November, Mallika spoke along with others at the UN Headquarters in New York to mark the Day to End Violence against Women and the start of 16 Days to End Gender Violence. She shared a story about Will, a student at Indiana University-Bloomington (IU), and his transformational ...

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On Wednesday, 25 November, Mallika spoke along with others at the UN Headquarters in New York to mark the Day to End Violence against Women and the start of 16 Days to End Gender Violence. She shared a story about Will, a student at Indiana University-Bloomington (IU), and his transformational journey. Before college, he knew almost nothing of campus sexual assault. After reading about it, he began to challenge his own notions of masculinity, his peers to do the same, and joined IU MARS (Men Against Rape and Sexual assault on college campuses) to help end campus sexual assault. Culture change started with Will and has led him to take it to his peers, his campus, and his community.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Read the transcript below:

Thank you so much.

Madame Executive Director, your Excellencies, all you amazing advocates, organizers, rabble-rousers, mobilizers. I am delighted to be here this day–this week–to Orange the World, as a proud partner of UN Women and the UN Trust Fund to end Violence against Women. Thank you. The secretary-general was one of our first global champions for our Ring the Bell/Bell Bajao campaign several years ago as well, so thank you again.

I’d like to take you on a slightly different journey. I want to introduce you to a young man called Will McElhaney, who is a 19 year old sophomore with a business major at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. Will grew up in a small town in Indiana called–I kid you not–Santa Claus. He came to the university two years ago and started to see all of these campus newspaper articles on the prevalence of sexual assault on campus. This was something that was startling to him and he wanted to do something about it. So, he became a member of an organization called MARS, which is Men Against Rape and Sexual assault on campus, an organization that Breakthrough has been working with for the last two years in our work with fraternities around the United States to address the very large prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses right here.

Will, in his journey of transformation, began to call out his brothers in his fraternity–as he is a fraternity member–and his friends every time they made comments about women that were not appropriate. He started to table condom use for safe sex and when men would come up and say “Hey, if I use a condom, it’s not rape is it,” he’d call them out that humor like that only exacerbated the problem. Will then joined with other members of MARS to create the BannerUp campaign at his university where they got 20 presidents of fraternities to put up big signs against sexual assault during what they saw was the “red zone” time–the largest number of sexual assaults against women on college campuses happen against first-year women from the first week of college to Thanksgiving.

When one of the fraternity men in a drunken moment sexually harassed women walking past the fraternity in one of the fraternities that had a banner up, Will and his brothers called that fraternity out and said you’ve gotta take action, wrote to the dean, and called a meeting of the fraternity presidents to talk about what they needed to do to step up. The BannerUp campaign used social media, as millennials and young people do so brilliantly today, and created a huge conversation around this issue not just on the Bloomington campus, which is a very big campus and also a huge party school, but across universities in the area. And now more and more people–more and more fraternity leaders are looking at how they can step up their work to challenge sexual assault on college campuses.

Most importantly, Will says that his own understanding of himself as a man and his notions of masculinity have undergone a transformation. Being cool and being a guy isn’t about how many women you can have sex with–without or with their consent–or about how drunk you can get or how many parties you can attend. He is reexamining his whole notion of what it means to be a man, what it means to show up, and he’s challenging his brothers and his friends to do the same thing. Being a peer who challenges your peers has been shown to be one of the most effective ways of creating norm change. And it’s not an easy thing to do.

At the end of the day, violence against women and girls can only come to an end if it is prevented. We cannot turn every home into a domestic violence shelter, and we cannot put all perpetrators in jail. That’s not the vision of the world that we want to live in. We want a world where notions of gender are about the right of all of us to live on this planet with dignity, with equality, with justice. The only way to that vision of our world is by including men and boys in that journey. By making sure that we engage in transformation at the individual level, at the interpersonal level, at the community level, at the structural level–that’s how change happens across the ecosystem.

We spend a lot of time these days focusing on violent extremism. Violent extremism is really sort of the far end of the kinds of gender norms that we allow to exist on a daily basis for men and for women–especially for women and girls being at the receiving end of the toxicity of those gender norms every single day. So, when we talk about the extremes–really, the journey has to begin within, between, among–wherever we stand.

And so today, if Will is watching, I want to say, hey Will. Keep up the good work. And I want to invite men and boys around the world to join this movement–to join this movement to say violence against women and girls is not acceptable. Simply unacceptable. And that the world we all want to live in–that we dream about–can happen right here and right now, if we all join that journey.

Thank you so much.

Thank you so much, Ms. Dutt. And Will, if you’re watching–and all the Wills out there–thank you so much for what you’re doing. We cannot thank you enough.

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Dutt speaks at IOM Forum on Global Violence Prevention http://www.mallikadutt.com/2015/11/dutt-speaks-at-iom-forum-on-global-violence-prevention/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2015/11/dutt-speaks-at-iom-forum-on-global-violence-prevention/#comments Thu, 12 Nov 2015 20:21:49 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2118 In late October, Mallika Dutt traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak at the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Global Violence Prevention workshop: Addressing the Social and Cultural Norms that Underlie the Acceptance of Violence. She presented with others on “The Intersection of Norms and Technology, Communications, and Media.”

Watch her ...

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In late October, Mallika Dutt traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak at the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Global Violence Prevention workshop: Addressing the Social and Cultural Norms that Underlie the Acceptance of Violence. She presented with others on “The Intersection of Norms and Technology, Communications, and Media.”

Watch her presentation here.

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Mallika Dutt speaks at DV Conference in Brooklyn http://www.mallikadutt.com/2015/11/mallika-dutt-speaks-at-dv-conference-in-brooklyn/ http://www.mallikadutt.com/2015/11/mallika-dutt-speaks-at-dv-conference-in-brooklyn/#comments Tue, 03 Nov 2015 16:51:03 +0000 alice http://www.mallikadutt.com/?p=2088 On October 1, Mallika spoke at Brooklyn Law School on a panel for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office’s Domestic Violence Conference – Addressing Violence Against Women: Collaborative Approaches in the 21st Century. She spoke for a panel whose subject was “The Link between Local Prosecutors and the Global Movement ...

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On October 1, Mallika spoke at Brooklyn Law School on a panel for the Kings County District Attorney’s Office’s Domestic Violence Conference – Addressing Violence Against Women: Collaborative Approaches in the 21st Century. She spoke for a panel whose subject was “The Link between Local Prosecutors and the Global Movement to End Violence Against Women.”

Read the transcript below:

I just want to start by saying thank you to Michelle, to the Brooklyn DAs office, to this wonderful law school, and to all of you for putting this day together, and for showing up, and being so incredibly present. I was commenting to Michelle earlier that I’ve been to lots of conferences and spoken at a bunch of places, but the kind of attention and presence in this room has been just astounding and it’s pretty remarkable considering that you’ve been talked at for a while now and that we’ve been talking about stuff that’s actually really painful and difficult and traumatic at multiple levels.

I also want to say thank you to each and every one of you in this room for all that you do because we get caught up in the language of the law and we think about the work that we’re doing in the context of the law without really understanding how much of ourselves ends up getting put on the front line in doing this work. The kind of trauma and pain that we carry from our own lives as well as the pain and trauma that we pick up from everybody that we are serving. Take a moment to look to your left and to your right and recognize one another and yourselves for being such incredible powerful advocates and healers in addressing what is the world’s largest pandemic–and that is of violence against women. Really, thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you all do.

On September 13, I saw these headlines about the Egyptian Army bombing a group of Mexican tourists in the desert by mistake and how many people have died. And it wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered that one of the people that had been killed in the mistaken bombing was a very dear friend of mine. His name was Rafael Bejarano and he was this incredible healer. A shaman. A musician. And, it was once again a reminder for me how interconnected our lives are. That a random, bizarre incident in the Egyptian desert where the Egyptian Army bombs a group of tourists that are at an oasis having lunch is intimately and deeply connected to my life.

And so it is with the work that we do in Brooklyn and NYC and around the world that our lives–no matter where we are–are intimately interconnected to one another. The local is global, and the global is local in just the most profound ways and I think that we’ll all come to understand that–even beyond just thinking about “what are the cultural norms over there?” and “how do we address them over here?”–to really understand in all the stories that we heard this morning is that the cultural norm of violence against women is pretty universal. We might have different variations on the theme, but at its fundamental core it is really the same thing that we’re dealing with over and over again.

You might be wondering why I’m sharing Rafa’s death as an example of showing the interconnectedness when we’re here talking about intimate partner violence … The cultural violence that we live with on a daily basis in the streets of New York and around the world–I have come to believe–really starts with the way in which violence is perpetrated and allowed in the home. This is the place where the first distinction between human beings gets made; between men and women; where the other gets created; where the paradigm of one group of people having power over another group of people first comes into existence; and–in that family unit where many of us are born and grow up–the values of how we then go about our lives in society come into being. And so boys grow up thinking that to be masculine means to be tough, to use violence as a tool to resolve conflict, that women can be abused–that they can be second class citizens. And women grow up thinking that they are second class citizens and that it is okay for men to behave in this way.

And so, our most fundamental construct of “what does masculinity?” mean and “what does femininity mean” within the whole, begin with this allowance of violence as a way of being. Even with reference to the statistics that we just heard … Violence against children in the home is also a pandemic, right? If violence as a tool is okay within the home, then it’s no accident, I think, that we then watch it play itself out in gangs, on the streets, in the army, in wars, and having the arms trade be one of the biggest billion dollar–multi-billion dollar industry on this planet. It’s all connected.

That’s one of the points I do want to make because there is a way in which we sometimes can start thinking about intimate partner violence as this thing between a couple–whether it’s a man and a woman or any other variation on this theme–that we then somehow have to marshal all these resources to address and sometimes lose sight of how–really–we are on the front lines of transforming something that affects every aspect of how we come together as human beings on this planet.

And I think it’s really, really important for us to step into owning that part of what intimate partner violence is. You already heard about how it’s a much larger human rights issue; that it’s about women’s public and political participation; it’s about their ability to step into the economic system. I posit that it is actually about the core of the values system on how we live lives, how we treat one another, how we treat other species, and how we treat the planet itself. This conference today for me is pivotal to this question of what is the world that we want to live in? Who are we? What are creating together in terms of our becoming? And what we can transform within the home? It will be absolutely critical to answering that question.

The second thing I just want to say is that prosecution and law enforcement as we hear many times in this room is one pillar of a prevention strategy. It cannot–as we all know–be the solution to this problem. We have to combine a prevention strategy of enforcement and prosecution with culture change, with transformations in economic systems, political systems, and social systems. There is no way in hell that we can marshal all the resources necessary to really address this pandemic simply through a legal process. It’s simply not possible.

I make this point to say that if we can step into understanding ourselves as one key pillar of a larger strategy, then our ability to be interconnected with those other strategies becomes better. We become smarter and more strategic about how we are weaving in and out of working with a culture change strategy. Working with men and boys. Figuring out what legislation needs to happen as well as making sure that we are keeping women and kids and everybody safe and protected in the actual work that we’re doing.

But, it’s really important to understand that we are part of a larger change–a larger culture change that has to happen. You’re going to hear a lot more about that in our next panel and my colleague from Breakthrough, Phoebe Schreiner, will be sharing some of the work that we do specifically at Breakthrough–which is where I work–but I’m kind of using my time to really just share some insights from my thirty years of working on this issue.

So, if prosecution is one piece of a larger strategy and we’re thinking about culture change in this broader way, even things like what happened at our erstwhile government when Cecile Richards was testifying a very short while ago, the way in which she was attacked is part of the culture that we need to change. Political leaders–male political leaders–need to understand that it’s political suicide for them to treat women in the way in which they continue to treat women. And that’s not just true in other parts of the world–that’s just as true in these United States of America.

When we’re talking about culture change, it’s getting to that place where we make certain kinds of behavior unacceptable. It’s not acceptable to treat women in the way in which they’re currently treated and that is true whether it’s in the halls of our government in the United States or whether it’s in our homes in India. Right?

I just want to make that point of us understanding that the piece that we hold in this room of prosecution and law enforcement is absolutely critical and it’s part of this larger, much more multi-pronged strategy that we need to come together with and move forward with. And working with men and boys, for example, is another critical piece of that whole.

The last thing that I just want to say after thirty years of doing this work is that it’s really hard work. It is relentlessly difficult work. I went on sabbatical over the summer, and it was the first time that I had had a break and there was this one moment when I was walking through this valley in Peru–in the Sacred Valley of Peru–and I was surrounded by all of these mountains, and it was just one of those sacred, beautiful, divine moments. And I felt this kind of crack, this cracking in my system around me, and I started to cry. And I cried for four hours. And I realized that I was shedding the pain and the stories and the trauma of all of those thousands and thousands and thousands of women and girls and boys and men that I had listened to, worked with, represented, engaged with, and whatever with, and that they were all in my body. You know, we learn how to say things like “she was burned,” “she was killed,” “she was maimed” with these impassive faces to talk about some of the most egregious, horrible things that human beings can do to one another. We can sit at our conferences–we sit across the table from people–and we have to learn how to talk about this stuff in this strong, clear–we’re lawyers, we’re advocates, we can’t show emotion.

All of that pain goes somewhere, right? I mean, it’s just not possible to be doing this work without having all of those things impact us as well. As many walls as we might be creating to making ourselves safe and secure. And most of the time, we’re carrying our own pain and trauma because I would hazard a guess a significant number of people in this room have experienced some form of violence either themselves or have watched it with somebody in their family or a friend. It’s not like we’re just dealing with people out there. We’re dealing with all of this ourselves.

My third and last point that I’d just like to share today is self-care is essential in this work. We have a tendency for those of us who do advocacy–those of us who are lawyers; those of us who are a part of social change movements–to always be focused on the external and what needs to happen externally and we forget that we really need to take care of ourselves along the way. Because, after all, at the end of the day, what are we all trying to do? We’re trying to create this world, right? Our value system and why we all do this work that is so hard, so challenging, so difficult is because we deeply believe that women and men and kids have the right to live with dignity, with equality, with justice. That they have the right to live violence-free, express themselves, thrive. That’s what brings you all to this work, right? It’s not because we’re all masochists who kind of wake up every morning and just want to whip ourselves for some bizarre reason. There’s a vision of the world that we’re trying to create that brings us, that drives us, that fuels our passion. And so, that world where each one of us can thrive has to happen by making sure we create the conditions in our own lives for ourselves to thrive as well. And for ourselves to thrive as well means that we have to take care of ourselves as much as we take care of everybody around us.

There’s no “there there” in this vision. There’s no, you know, “someday we will wake up and we’ll be over the rainbow and the sun will be shining and bluebirds will be singing and it’s like somewhere out there in that distant horizon–” No. I have come to understand that that world has to be the world that we step into ourselves every single day. And that’s the only way in which we’re going to manifest this world now.

One of the things that Rafael used to say was “May your day be filled with angels in disguise.” Like I said: he was a healer. He was a shaman. He was a musician. He had this incredible laugh and this was one of the things he always used to say. And I just want to say to all of you that in the work that you do and the way that you show up for women and kids and men who are in such pain and such trauma is that you are the angels in disguise in their lives. So, thank you.

You can find the transcript here.

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