Nargis, who is also 18, intervened in a domestic violence incident in her neighbourhood during the 2021 lockdown.
A man in the community was physically abusing his wife due to the lack of resources at home, she says. He was not able to make enough to support the family and wanted his wife to work on top of her caring responsibilities.
“We encouraged that woman not to suffer silently and to confront her husband,” Nargis says.
As well as preventing abuse in the moment, bystander intervention is also seen as a way to change harmful societal norms that lead to discrimination against women, minorities and LGBTQ+ people.
“We recognize that it is crucial to break the cycle of normalisation and change the norm where a woman accepts violence as a normal and given thing,” Bhattacharya says.
She says engaging young people can be a potent tool for creating more gender-equal communities in the future.
This is the hope at least in Sangam Vihar, where Kumari and Nargis say there has traditionally been little opportunity for women to speak out. But, they say, things are changing, even within their own households.
While Kumari was acting to undo harmful gender norms in her community, she was also waging her own battle for equality within her family home.
When her brother smashed his phone in a fit of anger, he decided to take his sister’s from her, an act Kumari saw as an exertion of his male power.
Kumari’s phone was her only means of studying and doing university assignments, she says. Without it, she began to miss readings and classes.
In the past, she may have left things there, and Kumari says her brother did not expect her to do anything about it. But she says her bystander intervention training helped her to speak up for herself and demand he return her property.
“I told my mother that I would not suffer,” she says.