Name: Usha Vishwakarma
Usha Vishwakarma was sexually assaulted by a coworker when she was 18 years old. She was a teacher, but no one at the school took her accusations seriously, telling her to forget it and stop causing trouble. The experience left her traumatized and for two years she did nothing. But, little by little, her confidence came back. In 2009 she set up her own small school for local girls in an outbuilding next to her family home. Yet all around her, she says, she saw more and more young women suffering the same abuse she had faced. And it was threatening to wreck the chances of her young female students. “Parents were telling girls to stay in their homes so there would be no incidents. They said, ‘if you go to school, boys will be troubling you, so stay home and there will be no sexual violence’,” says Vishwakarma. “But we said no, and we decided to form a group to fight for ourselves. ‘When you suffer, you get that courage. In 2011, Vishwakarma, with other teenage rape survivors, organized Red Brigade Team. The group of young women has a multi-pronged approach to keeping women in their city safe. They organize rallies, provide counselling and, most importantly, train school girls and young women in self defense.
5 Reasons Usha is Awesome:
- In 2013, Red Brigade became an official Kuros! partner in India. Through their partnership with the Red Brigade, they provide and distribute pepper spray to women in Northern India who otherwise couldn’t afford or have access to it for self defense.
- FRIDA is the grant partner for Red Brigade since 2014. FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund is a new initiative that funds and strengthens the participation and leadership of young feminist activists globally.
- Red Brigade undertakes is the empowering of rape and eve-teasing survivors. It reaches out to them, provides counseling, and helps them get back on their feet.
- Red Brigade started a campaign for an acid survivor in their state of Uttar Pradesh on Nov. 25, 2014. They protested at G.P.O. Lucknow on Nov. 29, 2014, alongside many other protestors.
- Red Brigade has launched a petition to increase the number of female police officers on the streets, install surveillance cameras and raise awareness among the public about the epidemic of sexual violence in India.
For more information about Usha, please click here.