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Need a new narrative to define abuse

Need a new narrative to define abuse

“We need to redefine and need a new narrative when it comes to describing rape,” said Vrinda Grover, at Difficult Dialogues 2018. The Difficult Dialogues truly brought out some very difficult issues and it did scratch the surface, if not delved deep, into the issues plaguing today’s society. The MeToo campaign that gained momentum in late 2017, also found a voice in the panel discussion ‘#MeToo and the Missing Conversation’ that  included panellists, like lawyer and human rights activist Vrinda Grover, Indian filmmaker and novelist Vijay Singh; Hollywood actor, activist and ambassador for Tibet Save and Care, Gabriella Wright; development and change management consultant and founder of NGO Sakthi, Belinda Bennet; Indian actor, director social activist Nandita Das; and Indian filmmaker Ketan Mehta. The panel was moderated by senior lecturer of social justice at the Kings College London, Sridhar Venkatapuram.

Grover further said that the verdict’s often left up to judicial imagination and the use of adjective are really not necessary. “There is no such distinction between rapes, because every rape is brutal,” she said.

Speaking about the #metoo campaign, she said that the movement that has been happening for some time but in whispers, “The conversation is being heard for the first time. It has moved beyond outrage. It is a conversation that people don’t have because it tends to come back home and strike at the heart of patriarchy. It’s a conversation that each one of us wants to hear, listen, learn and speak in.”

Belinda spoke about the Indian context and pointed out that in the Indian context where not many women have access to internet, and being a country steeped in cultural ethos there are many voices that are not heard. “The constitution gives us the right to choice, choice in how we live life, to choose our partners. 53 per cent of marriages in India are child marriages, where are those voices?” said Belinda.

Singh spoke about the movement going beyond the problem and that it is not resolved only by outrage but going to the core of the issue, “It’s very important to introduce various forms of cultural expression at the school level, that is the best time to make sure that both the genders learn that,” he said. Stating the MeToo conversation comes from deep trauma and having associated with women who have been traumatised in Hollywood , Wright said the world doesn’t have a system where women can express themselves freely and that she doesn’t like to associate the term ‘rape victim or rape survivor’ to any person but refer to them as human beings. “The outrage comes from deep trauma, when you experience violence, pain, emotional and psychological pain, and you keep questioning yourself and the world around you,” she said.

Nandita said that though the movement has gained momentum, we as a people are not yet ready for the backlash. “There is some kind of healing that comes from the sharing, but there is definitely going to be a backlash, are we ready for that? We also have to make sure that we don’t get divided. Half the time we have been self censoring ourselves, and are silencing ourselves from fear; those who are vulnerable and are speaking out need to supported. We keep telling each other that you have to speak up now I think it’s time we tell ourselves that ‘I need to speak up more.’”

Mehta said it is more an act of power play and that in the Indian mindset a woman is considered something to be used and asserted power over. Grover reacting to Nandita’s statement about the backlash said that it is often seen in the social ostracising of women who voice out their abuse. Belinda added that the backlash is seen when there is pressure where even death threats are made to the girl to withdraw the statement.  “The system is so institutionalised that even when a student complains about abuse, the whole system descends on that child. We need a new way to tackle issues and women must come together,” she said.

(The Navhind Times was the  Media Partner for the event)

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