Saturday, November 22, 2008

Of speaking up. It helps.

I'm not a feminist per se, but I do invest a lot in terms of emotion and interest in what may very broadly be termed human rights. So, when I came across the following video on a blog I regularly follow, I couldn't help but ask permission to use the link on my own blog. The owners were kind enough to grant permission and here it is:

This public service ad, directed by Pooja Das Sarkar, Nandita Mary Thomas and Subuhi Jiwani, tries to raise awareness about 10920, a government-run helpline for women. The directors are Master's-level students in Media and Cultural Studies at the Centre for Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Speak Up was made as an assignment for a video class on social communication in January 2008.

I have always felt strongly about the topic since a very young age, when we had maids not turning up on certain days and my mother would look sad instead of angry at having to shoulder all her household responsibilities herself. Much later, I understood the reason why. Some of these girl-women were simply not educated enough to realise that walking away from a bad marriage was better than having to overhear relatively better-off (maritally) women offering sympathetic stares and commiserating candour on their own variations of domestic strife. Even after my own marriage, I was a helpless witness to Mangala, the domestic help at my shoshurbari, who didn't turn up for several consecutive days and then left with her salary one evening. Mamoni later told me that her husband had beaten her up so severely that she looked and felt too scarred to make any sort of public appearance whatever. This from a woman whose husband probably earned only as much as she did and yet, had the audacity to distrust her movements ouside home and the company she kept, coercing her to finally give way and lead the routine housewife's life once again, washing and cleaning and cooking etc. I, who had known her since my pre-marriage days and had become accustomed to her greeting me with a smile and a cup of hot tea on most mornings after marriage, couldn't imagine her spirited personality constrained by physical abuse and emotional blackmail. But I had no idea what I could do to make any difference in her position. She had made a decision, she told Mamoni, and would try to live upto it. Mamoni respected it. But did she respect it herself after all?

Couldn't Mangala have dared to tarnish her good name in her community by deciding to rebel and regulate her own life? Maybe, like most of us, her spirit was willing but her flesh was weak? We do so want our marriages to work after all. Whatever social stratum we hail from us. Each of us women. Educated or not. Bold and beautiful. The neither bold nor beautiful. All of us are slaves to what we think is love. To the silence that is actually not any solace at all.

1 comment:

shadows getting older said...

I never quite expected to see you paste the link of my webpage on your blog. But when I did reach your blog from my webpage, I liked it. Thought provoking actually.


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