NOTES OF HARMONY – TOWARDS GENDER JUSTICE

November 4, 2015

Ansari Auditorium, JMI

“When my wife’s at work, I feed the kids, I wash their face and hands

 They suck their thumbs, I wipe their bums and make the dinner plans

 To town to buy the groceries with someone else’s cash

 I used to call it Women’s Work but that’s a pile of trash.”

-‘Hard Work’ by Sally Rogers

 

Out of every three women, one woman suffers from violence in her lifetime and this results in one billion women suffering from violence. To show the stand against injustice, different activities are held across the nations of the world through cultural expressions under the One Billion Rising (OBR) Campaign.One Billion Rising is a global movement that has turned out to be the largest mass action taken in history to end violence against women and stand for this injustice.

In this vein of solidarity through cultural expressions, against the violence and injustice suffered by women, an outreach Programme, was organised by the Centre for Health and Social Justice (CHSJ) in collaboration with One Billion Rising (OBR), MenEngage Delhi and MA Human Rights Programme (Political Science Department) of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI)at the Ansari Auditorium in New-Delhi on November 4, 2015.

The day was full of heartfelt interaction and cultural extravaganza as it saw a melange of civil society activists, journalists and students from different colleges of Delhi and the renowned Sitar maestro, Partha Bose along with Tabla expert Durjay Bhaumik, adding diverse flavours to the stand against injustice to women.

Today we had the good fortune of having among us the South Asia coordinator of OBR, Kamla Bhasin present at the event, saying that “All the energy of OBR and those collaborating with OBR would synergise and culminate in celebrating one day, i.e., 14thof February 2016, the ‘Power of Love’ as no one can  say no to love on Valentine’s Day.”She insisted that an excellent way to show solidarity to the cause was to follow mantra of “Strike. Dance. Rise.”

INTER-COLLEGE DEBATE

The day also saw students from different  colleges of Delhi including JMI,Indraprastha College for Women, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar College and Lady Shri Ram College for Women, deliberating their concerns over the theme of “Media is responsible for increase in sexism and violence against women” in an inter college debate, in the event.

While participants speaking for the motion in the debate raised socially blasé points such as the male-dominated nature of media steeped in patriarchy and objectification of women. Those who spoke against the motion based their arguments on the underlying thought of demand and supply situation, wherein the media is a mirror image of the community it thrives in.

The outcome saw Meena Prajapati of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar College bag the first prize with her relevant and well-constructed points. Vivek from JMI and Devyani Chhetri from Lady Shri Ram College for Women bagged the second and third positions respectively in the debate.

Ms. Meena, who was speaking for the motion, emphasised that movies like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Hum Saath Saath Hain show that women only look forward to “finding love” and seek men’s approval while the men of the family hold the job of going to the factory and earning a living.

Mr. Vivek, talking against the motion, focused on how the benefits of media cannot be overlooked like the action taken in the Jessica Lall murder case and that if there is something you find offensive or incorrect, then you just have to switch the channel.

Ms. Devyani, again talking for the motion, brought the point of desensitization of the society by the media to the discussion saying that people today believe that it’s okay to commit a certain act since everyone else is doing it too.

PANEL DISCUSSION

The debate was followed by a panel discussion on the topic “Portrayal of Masculinities in Media”.  A group of eminent panellists including Kamla Bhasin from Sangat, Rashme Sehgal from The Telegraph, Annapurna Jha from Central Hall and Annu Anand from Press Institute of India  voiced their opinions on how masculinities are portrayed in the media. The session was moderated by Bulbul Dhar from the Political Science Department of JMI.

The panellists brought an array of views to the table ranging from the societal attributes of a man being controller, of physical and emotional independence of women, to cosmetics’ advertisements promoting capitalist patriarchy. The panellists also expressed that the media in most cases is not able to practice freedom of expression with accountability. Kamla Bhasin added that 80% of media does not act responsibly.

Quoting Annu Anand, “Media today only shows two extremes, either the woman is poverty stricken or she is a celebrity. Where are the businesswomen, the doctors, the lawyers?”

Annapurna Jha felt that everything said and done, the media is definitely instrumental in driving the change towards gender based violence but it still reflects the society we live in which is vastly patriarchal and rigid.

Rashme Sehgal mentioned the juvenile perpetrator in the Nirbhaya case. She quoted Maneka Gandhi’s recent remark, “I don’t know whether justice has been served but certainly the law has been adhered to.” and urged the society to look at the upbringing of criminals such as this.

The moderator for the session Bulbul Dhar, concluded the discussion by pointing out that symbolism in media plays an aggressive role in ideas of masculinity and these ideas have dire effectson men as well.

BOOK LAUNCH

In November, 2014   the 2nd MenEngage Global Symposium was held in New-Delhi, following which a lot of work is happening on understanding masculinity and patriarchy across the globe. In light of this, CHSJ has brought out two new books that were launched by Kamla Bhasin following the panel discussion

The two volumes, Dimensions of Change (English) and Mardangi Ke Badalte Swaroop (in Hindi) have articles written by senior journalists Rashme Sehgal, Annu Anand, Annapurna Jha and Anita Katyal. These articles bring out how complex the process of gender socialisation and its manifestations are. The books have articles and interviews that explore how masculinities are shared. They highlight many of the current issues of gender justice that need to be addressed and pick up threads from opinions and experiences of activists and experts working on issues of men and gender from many different countries. There are issues of health and gender that are of particular interest to the SAARC countries.

 

PERFORMANCE BY SHRI PARTHA BOSE

To put a musical spin to the evening, the last segment of the event was a much awaited performance by sitar maestro Partha Bose who was accompanied on the table by Durjay Bhaumik.

It was a curated performance that the maestro had composed especially for this evening. It consisted of three RAGAs (melody) that highlighted different moods, images and journey of a woman demanding equality and gender justice. They were:

Piece 1 – RAGA SHUDH KALYAN : A meditative-mood melody which radiates peace and goodwill. It reflects a mother’s peace, nurturing, love and serenity.

Piece 2 – RAGA BIHAG: Generating a mood of pathos and inner agony, it is reflective of the struggles women face at home and in society.

Piece 3 – RAGA BHAIRAVI : A unique melody of multiple RASAs (mood) it represents a woman’s journey of struggle and life showing joy, romance and naivety.

The two players were thoroughly enjoying themselves which reflected in their performance and made it all the more enriched. The renditions by the two music maestros left the audience mesmerised.

Folllowing the musical performance, the winners of the inter-college debate were felicitated by the two music stalwarts. Bulbul Dhar, from JMI delivered the vote of thanks.

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