The panel discussion titled after the debut non-fiction written by Priyanka Dubey ‘No Nation for Women: Reportage on Rape from India, World’s Largest Democracy’ went along different lines through the stories shared by speakers with one common theme being gender violence.
The author spoke about the question that pestered her since childhood – “why is there immense discrimination towards the female gender?” The theme underlying her first report was ‘gender crimes’. Her book shares the ground-breaking reality of our country.
Priyanka states that the brutality towards women in India stems from patriarchy. Besides, that is the failure of our system. According to her, the solution to this is large scale sensitization programs towards the two groups: Police forces and medical examiners.
Tania Singh, CEO of the NGO ‘Make Love Not Scars’ moderated the discussion between the 3 key speakers. “I plunged into an India which I never knew existed,” said Ashok Alexander answering Tania’s question about what inspired him to keep going with his works for The Antara Foundation. He had witnessed an enormous amount of violence faced by the sex workers through their narratives and oppressed mothers of Rajasthan. He highlighted the controversial statement made in his book ‘A Stranger Truth’ that he would rather be a sex worker than a mother in the remote places of Rajasthan.
Through his experience, Ashok strongly feels that only when these women come together and men get out of the way, India would be a country for women. The alum of McKinsey and Gates foundation, Ashok narrated a story of a mother who faced multiple oppressions by the society such as gender discrimination, lack of accessibility, livelihood compulsion and so on. She was saved from these along with her Acute malnourished child with the help of his NGO.
Answering another question posed by Tania, he stated that it is the heroism and charisma of these sex workers that helped avert 600,000 infections through his program. Manjari Chaturvedi, also known as the Diva of Classical dance shared the experience of mental violence faced by female artists in the field of performing arts. The founder of the Courtesan Project threw light on one of the taglines of her project – why men artists are called Ustads while female artists labelled as notch girls. This bias silently encourages the exploitation of women in performing arts. She says the legends of Radha and Lord Krishna originally taught us about the importance of consent.
Priyanka concludes her talk by reading out the contents of her book to the audience. She is baffled, worried and saddened by the fact that rape is the only crime where the victim is shamed. Ashok inspired the audience to seek the adventure that is within us, get hold of it and help our society which has failed in treating women equally.
“I wish that one day there wouldn’t be a panel discussion named ‘No Nation for Women’. Empowerment of women is a must as well as teaching our men to live with these empowered women” said Manjari in her closing remarks.
About the Author: Ayesha is a student pursuing Media Studies, Psychology, and English. She is an appreciator of new things, places and people. She believes good food and a trip to a beach can heal the soul. Her personal blog covers themes such as mental health and travelling. She currently writes for TheSeer. Instagram handle – gudiyaaa_