Sunday, March 21, 2010

Unfiltered Voices: Anita Pratap and Robi Damelin

In February 2010, women from all over the world came together for the second Global SAVE Conference in Vienna, Austria. Below are some excerpts from the conference participants about who they are, how they got here, and what their vision of the future looks like. For more information about our conference, download the conference report here.

Anita Pratap, Journalist, Author, Documentary Filmmaker, India (currently in Tokyo, Japan)

“I found one of the most traumatic experiences in my life, which was a turning point for me both professionally as well as personally, was when I was 23 years old and I had come to Sri Lanka. Urban riots by the majority community had broken out against the Tamil minorities. I'd only seen goodness in mankind till I went to Sri Lanka, and there I saw the kind of evil that can be perpetrated by human beings on fellow human beings. It also reaffirmed, however, that just as much as there is evil in life, there are also forces of good.

If I was successful as a journalist, I think it is because I always humanized the situation. I personalized the situation in a way that everybody could understand and relate to. And have that sense of rapport, because the grief of a mother who loses a child is the same, whether she is from Indonesia, or Israel, or India, or Pakistan. It's universal. And that is what we have to constantly focus on. Somehow this must add up so that all of us can combine our resources in a way to pressure the policy makers to start at least managing conflicts, if not solving them, so that violence stops and people can gain normal lives.”

Robi Damelin, Parents Circle-Bereaved Family Forum, Israel

“We say so many things in our lives, and we go through personal journeys. And my personal journey is with the man who killed my son. He's serving a sentence. He's actually also set to be freed to bring back Gilad Shalit. I immediately said, ‘Yes, you have to release him, because I think there's nothing more important than the sanctity of human life.’ And I don't believe in revenge, and in any event, there isn't any revenge for a dead child. Who would I kill to bring David back? I also think that political prisoners are part of the journey of trying to find a way to resolve a conflict. If we do not start to release the Palestinian prisoners, then I don't see any way to go even two steps forward.

You must decide whether you allow the situation to affect who you are, or if you will affect the situation. This is the test that we are put to all the time.”

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