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Bell Bajao (Hindi for 'ring the bell') is an anti-domestic violence campaign that urges local residents to take a stand against physical abuse through simple acts meant to interrupt domestic violence. When residents, especially men, overhear violence against a woman taking place, they are urged to ring the doorbell and ask a simple question - such as to borrow some tea, to use the phone, or to have a glass of water. This is meant to let the abuser know that others can hear them and will act to interrupt the violence.
The campaign was launched in India on August 20, 2008 by Breakthrough in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, UNIFEM and the UN Trust Fund. The global campaign, known in English as Ring The Bell, was launched at the Clinton Global Initiative. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined the campaign as the inaugural global “champion,” and Breakthrough will join forces with his UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign as its first global partner.
This campaign promotes individual action against domestic violence. The campaign featured award-winning Public Service Announcements, as well as media and training tools. The campaign targets boys and men and calls on them to intervene if they witness domestic violence. A key aspect of the campaign was thinking of men as partners in ending domestic violence, instead of only as violators. The PSAs reached over 130 million people. Like the "Is This Justice?" campaign, this campaign was produced pro bono by the advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather and directed by Bauddhayan Mukherji of Little Lamb Films.
Breakthrough is an international human rights organization using the power of popular culture, media, and community mobilization to transform public attitudes and advance equality, justice, and dignity. "Restore Fairness" (urges U.S. government to restore due process to US immigration system), "Is this justice" (about domestic violence) and "What kind of man are you" (about HIV/AIDS and condom usage) are other initiatives in the United States. Most recently, Breakthrough created America 2049 a Facebook game set in a dystopic alternative future which deals with issues of immigration, sex trafficking, and labor rights. Breakthrough addresses critical global issues including violence against women, sexuality and HIV/AIDS, racial justice, and immigrant rights.
Violence against Women – Every person in this world is entitled to a fundamental set of human rights that allow her or him to live with dignity and self-respect. For too long, women have been regarded as less than human, and therefore, not entitled to these human rights. Breakthrough works to transform attitudes towards women so that they can realize their full potential. One key example is the Breakthrough Mann Ke Manjeere music video that has become a cult classic that speaks to woman’s celebration of self-discovery and the ability to make choices in life. The Bell Bajao! campaign brought attention to domestic violence through a powerful series of PSAs which focused attention to this issue.
Breakthrough uses innovative tools to engage youth and create a culture of human rights. Here are a few ways that Breakthrough spreads the Bell Bajao! message throughout the country:
- Celebrity involvement: The actor Boman Irani who is brand ambassador for this campaign weaves in men into the initiative saying that men can stop domestic violence by becoming sensitised and involved in the issue.
- Television, Radio and Press: 32 million people have seen and heard the message of Bell Bajao! through television, radio and press. Television advertisements depict men and boys who hear domestic violence and take a minute out their everyday lives to intervene and stop the violence.
- Video Vans: Mobile vans have been on the road for 150 days, traveling 80,000 kilometers across 6 districts in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra and have exposed 2.7 million people to this burning issue. Innovative and interactive, the van built audience-participation through games, street theater, audio visual tools and quizzes.
- Interactive, dedicated website: Breakthrough’s ground-breaking blog on www.bellbajao.org provides a platform – previously nonexistent in India – for dialogue about domestic violence. To date, witnesses, victims and advocates have all had an open space for personal testimony and reflection.
- Leadership Training: The Rights Advocates program embodies on-the-ground youth and community leadership training to reaffirm the message of Bell Bajao! and help Indian youth recognize and fight domestic violence in their own communities. The trainings develop the capacity and life skills of the trainees on a variety of complex like human rights, gender based violence and reproductive health. In 2008, the program trained over 100,000 people and aims to double its reach in 2009.
Awards and recognition
- Silver Lion, Cannes Film Festival (Bell Bajao), 2010
- Silver at the London International Advertising Awards 2010
- Official Selection, Festival Du Cannes, Short Film Corner 2010
- Gold and Silver at Goafest, (Bell Bajao), 2009
- Gold at Spikes Asia 2010
- Gold at Spikes Asia 2009
- One Show Merit 2009
- One Show Merit 2010
- Young Achiever's Award from Advertising Club of Bombay (Bell Bajao), (O & M's Ryan Mendonca), 2009
- Best Integrated Campaign of the Year, Creative Abby Awards at Goafest for Public Service, Appeals and Charity (Bell Bajao), 2009
- Laadli Awards (Little Lamb Film's Bauddhayan Mukherji) 2010
- "Ring the bell, stop domestic violence". DNA. 2008-08-29.
- Allen, Jane E. "How Rape Prevention, Cooking Stoves Can Save the World". abcnews. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- Ban, Ki-moon. "'Ring the Bell' Campaign Allows Individuals to Interrupt Suspected Violence against Women, Address Terrible Problem, Says Secretary-General in Message". United Nations Office of the Secretary General. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
- "'Pop culture a powerful tool in human rights advocacy'". Deccan Herald.
- "Men urged to stand up for women". Hindustan Times. 2010-05-03. Archived from the original on 2011-06-05.
- "Unsafe at Home". Tribune. 2009-05-24.
- "Bell bajao; violence bhagao". Midday. 2009-09-19.
- "Campaigning against domestic violence". Times of India. 2009-04-06.
- "Bell campaign ends today". Hindu. 2010-04-24.
- Bauddhayan Mukherji