‘Enough is enough’

Vinaya Patil
Saturday, 29 July 2017

Poonam Muttreja of the Population Foundation of India (PFI), speaks of its new campaign that aims to end gender-based violence against women

In a gender-biased world that we live in, the Population Foundation of India (PFI) has come up with Bass Ab Bahut Ho Gaya, an 18-month nationwide campaign against gender-based violence (GBV) focusing on violence against women and girls (VAWG). It symbolises an end to tolerating violence and encourages everyone, especially the youth, to take action.

They have introduced a film-making contest as a part of the campaign where college kids from across India are invited to make a two-minute video on gender violence.

“The kernel of our message is that violence against women and girls should never be accepted. It is, therefore, designed to motivate young girls to stand up against violence and also to demonstrate and advocate to boys that violence is not a mark of a man. It has no connection to masculinity but rather with being a bully and a coward,” says Poonam Muttreja, who is at the helm of matters for this campaign.

Started by the PFI, a 47-year-old NGO, the #BasAbBahutHoGaya campaign has also gotten celebrities to relay messages and motivate the young to actively join hands to end this abuse of human rights.

The PFI, Muttreja says, firmly believes that GBV can be effectively tackled by changing entrenched patriarchal social norms that perpetuate violence. “One of the first steps we need to take is to bring about a change in the attitude and perception of our youth. India has 356 million youth who are vulnerable — either as perpetrators or as survivors. We studied global statistics which showed that countries like South Africa, Mexico and Brazil have demonstrated the efficacy of entertainment education in changing mindsets and transforming social norms. In India, the success of PFI’s trans-media initiative, Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (A Woman Can Achieve Anything) too showed that by weaving appropriate messages into a compelling story that entertains and at the same time educates in a subtle manner, can be more effective in shifting attitudes and mindsets that one thought were carved in stone,” she explains.

The popularity of digital media consumption over offline media platforms such as the television and the print media among the youth was also considered in making web videos to bring about a change in gender-based perspectives.

“Gender-based violence (GBV) is a result of the normative role expectations associated with each gender, along with the unequal power relationships between the two genders, within the context of a specific society,” stresses Muttreja, adding, “We would like men to understand that the infliction of violence is not a right but rather a violation; women need to be very clear that they do not, under any circumstances, deserve it or should accept it. In a nutshell, our aim is to shape social norms which respect and value girls and boys equally.”

Anyone can be a part of this campaign by signing the pledge on PFI’s microsite (basabbahuthogaya.in).

Why target college kids when gender violence happens across age groups? 

“It is true that gender violence happens across age groups. However, we are targeting the youth with our eyes on the future — they are the architects and leaders of tomorrow — their thinking and actions need to be educated and informed. This contest is only one of the elements of the larger campaign that’s open to college students,” answers Muttreja.

The participants need to make and submit a two-minute film, which showcases their creativity and ideas on tackling the issue. Most importantly, even offer a solution. The content can’t be politicised or have any references to any specific religion/ caste. The last date for sending entries is August 16 and the first three winners will receive prize of 

Rs 3 lakh, Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh respectively. There will be a special prize for the viewer’s choice award. Winners will be awarded on October 2.

Apart from the contest, PFI and MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination) will be releasing a series of films, hold panel discussions across cities on issues around gender-bias and violence. The campaign will culminate in a concert in Mumbai towards the end of 2017.

Actor Farhan Akhtar, who has been working in the area of ending violence against women and girls for a long time through his organisation MARD formed after the December 2012  tragic case of Nirbhaya, has in the past partnered with PFI’s Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon campaign. Short videos telling the stories of actor Vidya Balan and tennis player Sani Mirza through their fathers, too were shot and relayed across social media around woman’s day as part of this campaign.

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