Bell Bajao - A Campaign to Mobilize India against Domestic Violence

"Bell Bajao" literally means "Ring the Bell" in Hindi. Since 2008, an Indian advertising agency has been fighting domestic violence by encouraging bystanders to do just that - ring the doorbell when they see a domestic violence incident taking place.

The campaign, started by human rights organization Breakthrough, encompasses radio, billboards, and internet videos, adopts the premise that people who hear or see signs of domestic violence happening should go up to the home in which they hear the incident and ring the bell, thereby interrupting the violence.

Through various mediums, the campaign has aimed to educate people about the prevalence of domestic violence and encouraged bystanders to speak up.

The idea of the campaign is to demonstrate that people who may think they are "just passers-by" actually have the power to stop domestic violence from happening. It suggests that people who witness domestic violence should create a commotion, making it more difficult for assailants to continue their abuse.

The "Bell Bajao" campaign focuses specifically on encouraging men and boys to take notice and vocally protest when they see violence against women and children taking place.

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equity and Empowerment of Women conducted a case study examining the effectiveness of the "Bell Bajao" campaign, and found, among other things, that the movement increased survey participants' awareness of domestic violence issues. It also revealed that many surveyed changed their minds after viewing the videos or hearing about the campaign - now supporting the idea that women who experience domestic violence should take legal action.

This campaign is a positive approach to getting men involved in the fight against domestic violence. Often, issues of domestic violence and sexual assault are considered "women's issues" because women are frequently the victims. The "Bell Bajao" movement approaches it differently, assigning men the responsibility of speaking out when they see domestic violence taking place - but stops short of lumping men into the "assailants" category, and instead encourages them to view themselves as a part of the solution.

The campaign identifies an effective way to mobilize citizens against domestic violence and, through a simple but powerful message, creates a grassroots movement that encourages people - men and women alike - to do something when they see an act of violence being committed. This easily replicated movement puts the power back in the hands of regular people.