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The Sport of Respect
Cricket is omnipresent in Mumbai, India. The city also is home to “Parivartan,” a program of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). Parivartan uses cricket to draw in boys and young men to teach that aggressive behavior doesn’t make them “real men” – nor does it aid in winning cricket matches. With the ultimate aim to reduce violence against women, the program helps boys and men view women and girls as equals, and treat them with respect.
Photos: © David Synder/ICRW
- Parivartan aspires to reduce violence against women by working with men and boys through India's popular sport of cricket. The program in part strives to dispel social messages that fuel disrespectful perceptions of women and girls.
- Cricket is traditionally viewed as a "gentleman's sport," where good behavior is expected on and off the field. Parivartan enlists community mentors and professionally-trained coaches to serve as role models for crickety players ages 10 to 16.
- The program's community mentors are captains or senior cricket players from a slum community in Mumbai. They work with young athletes to pass on Parivartan's lessons about non-violence and respectful behavior towards others, including women and girls.
- Mentors are trained to identify "teachable moments" to talk to their atheltes about such matters as the harming nature of abusive language and accepting responsibility for their actions. They tie these lessons to sportsmanship on the cricket field as well as to every day life.
- It's no easy task for these men and boys for whom cricket is a passion. Through Parivartan, they're being challenged to view the roles of men and women in a way that runs counter to what society traditionally expects. This is true not only for the young cricketers, but for the adult men who are coaches and mentors, too.
- But small changes already are happening for some Parivartan mentors like 20-year-old Rajesh Jadhav. “Through the program, I’ve learned how to be polite, how to talk, how to be respectful to girls and women,” Jadhav said. “I’ve learned that controlling is not a way to love a girl, but (the way to love) is to give her space in her life."
- A special bond has formed among Parivartan's coaches, mentors and athletes. They now are ambassadors, of sorts: men and boys who speak out against violence and encourage – as well as try to practice – respectful behavior towards women and girls.