“When I heard noises from a couple in my neighborhood, I instantly remembered Bell Bajao — and I screamed, ‘Snake! Snake!’ Hearing my voice, the husband stopped beating his wife and started looking for the snake. I was so happy that I had stopped violence.” — Rajan, young man in Karnataka

In 2008, men and boys began to break the cycle of violence against women in India with one simple action: when they heard a man abusing a woman inside a nearby home, they rang the doorbell or found another way to interrupt the violence. They made their presence known. They halted the violence by lifting one finger. Today, more and more men and boys, and women, are ringing the bell. Across India, a conversation is happening. It is challenging norms and changing behavior. It is making what was once acceptable unacceptable.

Where did they get this idea?

From Breakthrough’s series of powerful print, radio, and TV ads telling true stories of men and boys stopping violence with one ring of a bell. Bell Bajao (“ring the bell” in Hindi) has reached more than 130 million people in India alone, won 25 awards including the Cannes Silver Lion — and become a metaphor for standing up against abusive behavior. Our cutting-edge community workshops and leadership trainings in India also transform brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers into advocates for women’s empowerment.

With UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as its first global ambassador, Bell Bajao has been adapted from China to Canada. It has now gone fully global as Ring the Bell: One million men. One million promises to end violence against women. Make your promise today!

Violence against women: the problem

Violence against women is the most widespread — and socially tolerated — human rights violation. It threatens the health and development of individuals, families, communities — and nations.

  • 1 in 3 women have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused.
  • 1 in 7 girls in developing nations is married before age 15 and thus more likely to experience violence in the home.
  • 60 million girls, seen as less worthy than boys, are “missing” due to sex-selective elimination or poor care.
  • Home is the most dangerous place for a woman.

Breakthrough's solution: Real people ring the bell

When men and boys, bystanders and communities, stand up against violence, we make home safe for women and families everywhere.

“One day I heard the sound of a man beating his wife. I thought of an excuse and let my dog loose. I rang the doorbell of the house and went in pretending I was searching for my dog. Since then, I have not heard any sound of violence from that house.” — Pinky, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh

Giriraj, a young man in Karnataka, engaged his friends to start a village forum supporting safe motherhood. He also became active in his community around issues such as early marriage and girls’ education.

A mother in Karnataka got her community to take action to stop the abuse her daughter faced in her husband’s home.

Men, women, and communities have organized for better transportation, access to water, and neighborhood safety, with women becoming active citizens as never before.

Breakthrough's impact

Bell Bajao has

  • Put the power to stop violence in millions of hands
    • 130 million people reached via television and mass media
    • “Video vans” traveled 25,000 km (15,500 miles), reaching more than 7.5 million people
    • Popular soap operas included storylines about men stopping violence
    • India’s most popular quiz show featured Bell Bajao
    • One million-plus visits to BellBajao.org
  • Inspired young leaders to promote human rights and end violence
    • 75,000 young people trained to advocate for local and global human rights
    • 50,000 adolescent girls trained on gender, sexuality, and rights
    • 400 youth in Karnataka working to address link between maternal mortality and domestic violence
  • Trained police, service providers, and government actors to protect women’s human rights
  • Launched innovative programs addressing early marriage and sex-selective elimination
  • Changed minds and attitudes, measurably increasing
    • Knowledge and recognition of types of violence
    • Understanding of violence as shared issue that we must act together to address
    • Awareness of available legal protections
    • Willingness to seek help
    • The number of people who report taking action against violence

Bell Bajao goes global

  • UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon is the first Bell Bajao global ambassador
  • Bell Bajao advertisements adapted in China, Vietnam, Pakistan, Canada, and more
  • Pilot anti-violence education programs launched in Nepal and Bangladesh

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