Putting equality to the test: How she went from fighting sexual abuse to breaking a record in India

Find Anuja right in the center of the action!

Gender inequality has gone a long way. I am not a pessimist, so I don’t believe that “we are doomed”. Of course, I am not blinded either. There is still a long way to go. Over the years, I have no idea who started the game that some humans are more worthy than others. That is how racism, classism, castism, discrimination and gender inequality started. What a bunch of ignorants. 

Still, all of those things exist in the 21st century. Can you believe it? In the era of modernization.

The situation for women is not much different.

Sure, women do things that they “were not allowed” to do 50, 70, 100 years ago… But that is still not enough. Let’s spice it up with some hard facts about violence againt women. 

Between 15 and 76 percent of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to recent studies. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. Worldwide, almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime, according to the World Health Organization.

  • In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
  • In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.
  • In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
  • In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

Taking this whole panorama, there are women all over the world doing incredible things to make these inequalities and injustices a thing of the past. 

We know that being a woman is hard enough. It’s not an easy ride in any country, inequality is still in everyone’s head, and voices raised have erupted in more violence than ever. In India, it is no different. With one of the highest rape rates in the world, it is one of the most gender discriminatory nations. With still a long way to go, some women are stepping up.

Anuja Mudda has always been marked by these circumstances around here, but not in her home. Growing up in  Udgir, Maharastra, she was brought up independent and happy, but as she grew older, she realized it was not the same for every woman around her. Girls were getting married off or not allowed to study, growing up to do nothing but house chores.

Affected by this, she thought it was about time she did something about it. 

A teacher by profession, she was educated to empathize and share, what made it impossible for her to resist the urge to change things around her. 

On what point in your life did you decide you wanted to do something to combat the injustice, atrocity, and disparity that women face in India?

Since I was a teenager, I had seen that many girls didn’t have the opportunities I had, and it made me angry, because I am sure that those girls are no less capable than myself if given the opportunity. Whenever I faced the opportunity to help someone in need, I took it, but it was not until recently that I decided to take it on a larger scale.

I started running only recently in 2015, and it became not only a healthy activity to do, but the perfect platform to start shaking things up.

Why do you believe more Indian women should start taking on sports like running and break the mold of what is “normal” in terms of them still being limited in their actions?

The key to everything sports give you start by confidence. Women who practice in physical activities are more likely to be confident and strong. In terms of the perception of society, even sportswear make people re-think what women can do.

In India, it is not often that women are seen in shorts or tighter clothes; especially in smaller cities.

Just recently, Anuja has made her way into local and national news by running 450 km from Pune to Goa (Southern India) on a pace of 60 kms by day, in order to promote women’s rights and fight sexual abuse. With an impressive following and massing up media wanting to support and encourage her, she finished the race with outstanding reviews and a great deal of people interested in what was her focus: The importance of equal rights for women & children, and stop sexual abuse.

Watch Anuja for Mobiefit video commercial!

How was the experience for you, in terms or running across small and big cities, what is the reaction you got from people? 

Mostly it was support and admiration, for which I am grateful for. But also, it was heartbreaking to see how much there is to do. In small villages is where women are told they are meant for marriage, and to go from their hands of their parents to the hands of her husband and his family.

Being born a woman is not being born to serve, but being born to life up to your full potential, as any other person would.

Also, while running, I could catch stares from men, who would shout things at me, make sounds, or even just gesture absurdly.  That is exactly what I am fighting against. Women are no one’s toy, and they should not be bothered or disturbed when they are not consenting.

When it comes to sexual abuse, do you think India is awake and ready to tackle this problem?

Many things have happened in India in recent years that have forced people to look straight into the eyes of the problem: Rape culture and abuse cannot be tolerated any longer. 

Parents educate their children unequally, and that is the root of a gender feeling they have more rights than the other in adult life.

Have you lived this issue personally? 

When I was young, I had an unpleasant encounter with men, which in the end marks you in one way or another, and it makes you fear freedom. Going to college and diving more into the whole women’s fights for freedom, I realized I was not the only one. And mostly, I realized it had nothing to do with me, but with the poor education men were given on their “greatness”.

Talking to other women, I realized it was definitely a widespread problem: At least 7 out of 10 women I talked to had also had an encounter with some sort of sexual misconduct, in one level or the other. How enraging is that! 

What are you working on, to keep on fighting these issues?

During the 450 kms race, I got support from several brands, such as Mobiefit and Garmin. Mostly, I have been working with Arpan NGO, that focuses on ending child abuse, and through the race I made, I was able to gather – with the support of everybody- over 2.5 lakh (almost 4,000 USD) for the cause, and I could not be happier about it.

Of course I am going to keep focusing on what is coming and I will not stop until it is understood that gender equity is not only a right of women in the world but a rising trend with positive implications for India and the rest of the world, where it can do absolutely nothing but benefit everyone.

Currently, Anuja is being contemplated to enter the Limca Book of Records for her incredible accomplishment and is still getting notoriety to the cause by being on radio shows, TV, and teaching in schools. 

If you want to keep up with this lady and her amazing new adventures to come, follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

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