It is only when we dream of realising something we find the courage to pursue it. Rakesh Kumar Singh dreamt of fighting against gender-based violence and injustice with the belief that the world must not be dominated by one gender. For this, he launched an initiative and named it 'Ride For Gender Freedom'.
A girl was burnt alive by her in-laws for dowry in Uttar Pradesh. A man threw acid on a woman in Karnataka as she was getting married to someone else. In Uttarakhand, a man beat up his wife so brutally that she died in front of her kids because the food was not cooked properly. Such instances deeply affected Rakesh and motivated him to begin his initiative and create awareness amongst people.
According to Rakesh, no institution prevalent in the Indian society instructs us to indulge in such atrocities and still gender-based violence is widespread in the country. This predicament drove him to travel and spread awareness about it. Hailing from Bihar, he has been travelling from one city to another, one state to another on his cycle since March 15, 2014. He has covered nearly 17,900 kilometres and 12 states since the day he started.
When Rakesh is questioned about how useful and effective this project can be, he says,
Even if there are 10 people in the span of three years who have been positively affected by my words, I am satisfied.
Rakesh’s journey has not been deterred by anything — neither bad weather nor the nights he slept hungry. His entire life is confined to his cycle which has a small basket where people can contribute as per their desire. He uses the collected money to buy books and food for children.
While speaking about the initiative being more focussed on women rights, he says,
The state of women in this country is such that am not able to separate myself from their issues. However, I also speak about the inclusion of transgender people in my talks as I feel that they have been neglected for far too long.
During his journey, Rakesh had to face discouragement from many, and there were a few who even walked out while he was talking. Nonetheless, he did not let this dissuade him as the more he travelled, the more his horizons broadened. He realised that the root cause of gender-based discrimination lies in the different ways a boy and a girl are brought up. If their upbringing is right, he believes that no such problem will ever exist.
Rakesh has received appreciation from various schools and colleges. He has also been invited to premiere institutes like the IIM to put forward his views. His travel journey will end in 2018 in Bihar but he will continue to spread this awareness in whichever capacity possible for him.
Read this in Hindi