The isolating and socially annihilating impact of violence and abuse on self results in women seeking to be invisible in the homes, families and communities they live in. To a lesser extent the secondary citizenship that is part of being a women, the abject terror in which they live with fathers, brothers, husband and sons have made women voiceless and self effacing. Despite living sometimes in these horrible conditions, women when they are blamed for a man’s alcoholism, his countless affairs with ‘the other women’, the shame of being barren or worse still of not bearing a son or bearing the stigma of being the carrier of AIDS has made women to raise their voices and cry ‘Why me’, what did I do?
Stories of women and their trials cut across class/caste barriers- college professors whose pay packet is deposited in her husband’s account and who lives on a daily handed out pittance, women who flee from their husbands for police protection and are then threatened and vilely abused by the husband’s family with no remorse for their violent behaviour and a society that thrives on oft repeated sayings like ‘whether a man is straw or stone he is still a husband’, ‘it is better to die in your husband’s home, than be separated’ has led many a women to commit suicide by burning herself, throwing herself into a well along with her children. The fight for women’s rights and her education is a long drawn process of enabling women to define her ‘self’ and to forge new links to create her own destiny.
Working with women has helped me, challenged me and inspired me – a village women who proudly held herself with confidence and broke the most sacred yellow thread signifying her marriage and said that she does not need any symbols that bind her, women who have refused to stay in a abusive relationship saying ‘ I don’t want my daughters thinking that violence is natural/normal part of life’, a widow who chooses to live alone as ‘I want to be independent’, women who chuckle and hold on to their purse strings knowing that she is respected when she has resources, girls who have completed their education and going on to higher studies with hard won scholarships knowing that they are the beacon to the next generation .. the stories go on ..the generosity of women in a street who feed and house runaway youngsters with no questions asked till the boy is ready to go back home, self help group of women who have taken up the challenge to educate all the village children and take a collection monthly that becomes a fund for higher education. The stigma of widowhood is challenged in the songs that they sing ‘my mother decorated me with flowers and jewellery, she put a black spot on my face to ward off evil, before I knew you existed I wore flowers and jewellery tell me again o man, why should I not wear flowers or jewels now that you are dead?’Violence is condemned ‘ you beat me then you bring me flowers, maybe if I had said no to the flowers I wouldn’t now be lying beaten to death and garlanded with flowers’
I would like to document the lives and triumphs of women’s daily struggles and their ability to overcome their fears and trials. Story telling has always been an ancient art to transfer values, to inspire courage and enable individuals to grow into their potential and world pulse and the voices of the future correspondence will educate me to reach into this digital and social media age[of which I am now fascinated and repulsed by] to make a difference in women’s lives. Gandhi said ‘Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.I would like to work more extensively on the issue of contract labor exploitation of women as this issue cuts across three spheres - the corporate, the middleman and the marginalized and may integrate concepts like corporate social accountability and human rights. Another area i would like to work with is messaging - the ability to use a few words and visual media to communicate a powerful idea for change in attitude, behavior and beliefs. Be the change you want to see in this world.