Sofia Ashraf on The Self

One of the annual stars of Justice Rocks, Sofia Ashraf, tells her brief story of shedding expectations and shackles, and embracing her heart in her brain. Power to her and all of us.

The toughest part about following your heart is the trail of broken ones you leave behind. Standing up to society doesn’t mean picket fences and tear gas. My Tiananmen Square was hearing my grandmother plead, with tears in her eyes, for me to accept Islam again while I refused to give in. My hunger strike was seeing the pride my family had in me slowly drain away. My hemlock was willfully accepting that my mother could never truly accept the person I have become. But I am too brutally honest to lie to myself. I did it for 22 years and I couldn’t do it anymore… …I am not the same girl who left home 4 years ago and yet I am still her. That girl was rebelling against pop culture by wearing her convictions on her sleeve. This girl has a whole new revolution to sustain. That girl couldn’t experiment with her clothes, so she expressed herself through her hair. This girl still loves to take scissors and colours to her hair. I mean, I went bald for heaven’s sake. If haircuts are therapy, that right there is rehab! That girl may not relate to this one nor vice versa. But I think the two can respect each other. They both believed in something.

Read the full story on Homegrown

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Ride for Gender Freedom at Kovalam

Last night, Rakesh left Chennai and rode 40 kms to Covelong Point at Kovalam.

“Staying in a hut on the beach, where Murthi anna runs his surfing school. Olya, a Russian surfing enthusiast and Vicky and Dharani, surfing trainers are also here. This is going to be the base camp of the Ride for the next two days. Thanks Collectives and all the Chennai friends for your kind support and love to the Ride. You will always be a big strength to the Ride.” – Rakesh

Vicky also introduced Rakesh to Chandrashekar. His tailoring team has made a beautiful multi-coloured patchwork flag for the ride. The ride has been generously supported by many volunteers who have painted the cycle, made flags and puppets, offered transit points, and so on. The rider plans to stay in some community every twenty to thirty kilometres and travel using that as a base camp. He would like to use a variety of mediums to engage with the people he meets on this journey. So, here’s one more wonderful way you can support this ride – If you’re a filmmaker or if you have watched some interesting films that can be used in conversations about gender, please get in touch with the rider to organize on-the-road screenings. Call +91 8939592991.to take your film out on the streets. 

Ride for Gender Freedom at IIT, Madras

04:45 p.m. Rakesh reached the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. The students gathered at the Taramani gate to begin their ride inside the campus. They plan to break for conversations with staff and students on their way. This morning Pooja, John, and Nihal helped us paint the Ride for Gender Freedom cycle. Thank you so much guys for volunteering so readily and figuring out how to make new colours with me. Here’s a shot of the Gender Bender –

shared by sam pc. 

Ride for Gender Freedom Tambaram – Wrap Up

Today, on 19th March 2014, Bharathi Kannan, a filmmaker, had organised four meetings in Tambaram for the Ride for Gender Freedom campaign. Rakesh rode via East Coast Road, Kalaignar Salai, Shozhinganallur, and Medavakkam to Tambaram. He lost his way for three kilometres, but eventually found Madras Christian College by 9:30 a.m. There he had some valuable conversations with NSS, English department, and Social Work department students. Some students have expressed their interest in joining the ride when it reaches their home towns and a professor saw the possibility of making the ride an internship project. After two meetings and some conversations in the canteen, Rakesh rode to West Tambaram and had an open conversation with the women and young girls and boys from that locality. Later, Bharathi Kannan joined him as a rider and both of them rode around Tambaram for an hour or so before stopping for tea. Rakesh had planned a trip back to the East Coast Road, but it has been a really long day. So, Bharathi has kindly invited Rakesh to stay at his place for the night. Thank you Bharathi for all the help today. We hope to see the cycle back on the beaches tomorrow.

Rakesh will be thrilled if you join him for a small or a big part of his journey. To coordinate with the rider follow the Ride for Gender Freedom on this blog or this facebook page.

Good night.

Ride for Gender Freedom conversations with women in West Tambaram

06:00 p.m. Bharathi Kannan and Rakesh rode to a community meeting place in West Tambaram, where they had an interaction with the women and young girls and boys of the community.

Ride for Gender Freedom entering Madras Christian College

09:30 a.m. Rakesh rode three kilometres in the wrong direction, but managed to reach Madras Christian College in Tambaram on time. Bharathi Kannan has planned a day full of interactions and cycling in Tambaram. From 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with students of MCC -> Bharathi Padippakam at 5:00 p.m. -> MEPZ SEZ at 6:00 p.m. -> Gandhi Park at 7:00 p.m. -> CSP Illam at 7.30 p.m. Call 08939592991 or 9940220091 to coordinate with the riders.

RGF: Birds and Buildings at Medavakkam

08:30 a.m. Rakesh spots a stretch of the Medavakkam marsh surrounded by construction.