Speak up, Stand up

Feb 07, 2013, 01:01 IST | Surekha S

As citizens across the country raise their voices in unison on the issue of violence against women, today will witness 13 eminent speakers across different fields come together, to present varied perspectives on this burning topic and to suggest possible solutions

The horrific incident of December 16 shook the entire nation and stirred innumerable protests, where citizens came out to raise their voice and show their anger against such dastardly acts.

With the trial of the Delhi student having only begun and an ordinance passed that awards death penalty in special cases, 13 speakers from different fields will throw more light on the issue and look at possible solutions that could reduce to rate of such crimes. The event organised by the Asia Society India Centre will be held today at the Chemould Prescott Road Gallery.

Men with conscience
Each of the 13 speakers will have five minutes each to present their views and also look at possible solutions. Actor Rahul Bose, one of the speakers at the event, feels that without the participation of men, no gender parity can be reached. “Many men who join protests are secondary victims of violence, like the father or a brother of the victim, who are left with feelings of anger and frustration. Nothing has been done to reach out to the men. For things to change, we need to get people from within the patriarchy to change. That’s where we should start,” he believes.

Legal aspect
When we ask if stricter punishment and better laws are needed to act as a deterrent, he replies: “The laws are strict enough. The conviction rate needs to get better; it needs to come up from 26% to 76%. This will be a serious deterrent. The new ordinance has declared that death penalty can be awarded in rare cases. If you impose a death penalty, judges will be very careful while dealing with a case and conviction rates could fall. It will have a reverse effect. I have been working with many activists and most believe that capital punishment can cause a decrease in conviction rates,” Bose reasons.

The laws are strict enough. The conviction rate needs to get better; it needs to come up from 26% to 76%. This will be a serious deterrent. 
— Rahul Bose

Actor Poorna Jagannathan has initiated a new theatrical production, titled The Jyoti Project, for which she is collaborating with internationally acclaimed playwright and director Yael Farber. The play aims to crack open the shroud of silence on the staggering depth and breadth of sexual violence perpetrated against women not only in India, but globally. “When ‘Nirbhaya’ was raped, I was shaken to the core but I also felt very complicit. I’ve been taught to stay silent when stuff happens, and the rape woke me up to the fact that silence feeds violence. My silence in some way, I felt, contributed to the brutality of that night. This new work is about telling the truth and breaking the silence so that we finally look that truth square in the face. It’s only through truth that we can begin to turn the tide,” she maintains.

Train them young
According to 23-year-old Hussain Syed, Gandhi Fellow, and one of the youngest speakers at the event, a possible solution is much better upbringing of kids: “How a person behaves is most often a result of the company he keeps and the society he is part of. A change in the mindset is needed. It can be brought about by awareness and value education from a very young age.”

Classical musician Mala Ramadorai admits that it has been tough for her as a female musician but adds that music is a very positive and elevating factor that can change lives. “The school can be a place for holistic education and music should be a part of it. Music is like yoga — it makes you more thoughtful. If you are exposed to it from a young age, it will have an impact,” she says.

Artist Nalini Malani feels that this holds true for most of the arts. “Art can be effective to humanise society. In many societies, art has played a very important role in aesthetics and public mindsets. In many countries art has been used beautifully to teach children about the culture,  history. It enlivens the mind. It gets people in touch with their feminine artistic side, and this results in changing the psyche,” asserts Malani.

On February 7, 6.30 pm
At Chemould Prescott Road gallery, third floor, Queens Mansion, G Talwatkar Marg, Fort.
RSVP asiasociety@asiasociety.org.in 

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