Tuesday, 31 July 2012

G-aping Instead of Acting: Photos from the 'Silence is Violence' Protest Against Sexual Abuse, Bangalore

A young girl is beaten by a mob in Guwhati, India. Don't think “dark alley, no people, underdeveloped area, skimpy clothes.” Think “public place, city, media coverage, the works.” Women in India are subject to a number of ingenious abuses- from dragging them naked through streets, to kicking them to death for having a girl child, to locking up their vagina with an actual lock and key, to female foeticide, to dowry related deaths, to caste related murders.

The recent incident in Guwhati brought people together in protest across the country. Local residents put up pictures of the molesters on hoardings. The “Silence is Violence” protest in Bangalore aimed to turn an idea famously associated with Gandhi, of “seeing, hearing and speaking no evil,” represented by three monkeys in a row, towards a post-Gandhian way of looking at it- if you are silent to a crime, then you are an accomplice.

(For best results: Click on the slide show above. It will take you to the album in which you can view the photos full screen.)

Where does the problem lie? With men? Or is it patriarchy in general, which need not be a gendered activity? Could the women then be faulted for perpetuating the system? Or is it the society at large that makes the system seem imperative? Is it the lax process of law? Or the media that can be insensitive to issues of sexual violence? Or bystanders, who witness violence and do not speak up?

I joked with some of those gathered at the “Silence is Violence” protest, that maybe “We should also take off our clothes.” The drum beats were catchy and people were tapping their feet. One lady asked another, “Do you want to dance?” The other lady replied, “We will be back protesting a lot more if we dance and anger the other protest-groups.” The irony runs deep.

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