I am Nawaraj Sharma from Kapilvastu. I have a group of 10 married male who meet every week to listen to the radio program and discuss the various topics raised…including gender, violence, norms and values, ways to sustain a healthy and strong relationship between a husband and wife, along with promoting of a violence-free community. Ever since the program started, we have formed a very close relationship with each other. Instead of members of a listening and discussion group, we are more like a group of very close friends who share even the most intimate details with each other. In the past few months, I have seen that many changes have taken place among the group members.
There was a perception that household work is for women only and women should only be limited to housework. There was gender defined roles between husband and wife. Men used to think less of themselves if they performed housework. However, that was all in the past. These days, the members are seen helping their wives around the house. They are no longer ashamed of doing housework. They know for a fact that work should be divided equally between a husband and wife and that it is not defined by the gender. There was an invisible wall between the husband and the society that prevented them from working around the house and everyone was concerned about what society will think. That no longer happens, they have started realizing that both husband and wife should work together for a happy home.
Also, the members have realized that a healthy discussion between a husband and wife is very important. There should be proper communication and all matters should be discussed before making any decision. All the important household decisions should be discussed with the wife as well. A husband should involve their wives in all the financial matters – women should be treated as equal to men and women have the same rights as the men do.
These changes have taken place in the members due to the project (Change Starts at Home). The radio program makes it very transparent for us to realize the shortcoming in our way of life, it helps us to be aware about ways we have been unfair to our wives unintentionally. And the discussion that follows the radio program helps us look at matters from a different perspective and scrutinize our behavior so far. Because of the radio program and the discussion group, we have been motivated to change our way of life and improve our inter-personal skills. This has helped us in having a better and improved relationship with our spouse as well as others.
If there is understanding between a husband and wife then that house is not just a house but a happy home. Nevertheless, if the husband looks at matters in an opposite way to his wife’s…then there is conflict in that house. If there is violence in a house, then it affects the children as well. Children learn many things from their surroundings. If a child sees violence regularly in their house, then the child will grow up thinking that it is normal behavior. This program has made us realize this aspect of violence as well which is why I have found this project to be very useful.
We also learned about anger management and how we can control our emotions without resolving to violence. We come from a patriarchy society. We always believed that men are the ones who should be listened to. Even I used to have that thinking. But I no longer feel like that, women should be equally listened to as well and their voices matter too. These days, I have started asking my wife before making any decisions. A house where both husband and wife have effective communication between them is a prosperous house.
Sexual relationship and consent has been another important learning from this project. We have come to realize that it is very important to ask for consent before sex even with our wives. Pressuring them to have sex without any interest is marital rape. Also, when there is a sexual relationship without the interest of both, then it affects the relationship between the husband and wife. Just because they are our wives doesn’t mean that we can treat them however we like. We need to treat them with respect and care which they deserve.