“Raaniyan sab jaanti hain…”

Rahul Sharma*

National campaign on domestic violence launched Shhhhhh…..a dramatic dialogue of dance, music and theatre organized in New Delhi

Challenging the perception that domestic violence is limited to the lower strata of the society and raising the question whether the society and the system truly supports women in breaking the silence, a thematic representation of violence against women, “Shhhhh….” was organized in Delhi. The dramatic dialogue of dance, music and theatre with soaring live vocals and percussion inspired by heartfelt poems of real women are written by Dr. Vartika Nanda, award-winning author poet and media trainer, and Arunima Kumar, a highly acclaimed Kuchipudi performer, teacher and choreographer.

This presentation marks the beginning of a national campaign to generate awareness about the issue of domestic violence which will culminate with the launch of the book ‘Raaniyan sab jaanti hai” by Dr. Vartika Nanda next year. The focus of this campaign is on the women in the upper middle class and elite sections of the society who seem to be empowered but are generally voice less when it comes to domestic violence. The women have to deal with the law process which is expensive considering one has to engage legal services to defend their case over often a long period of time and have to also deal with defamation and social stigma if they break their silence. On the other hand there is a section which feels that the domestic violence laws are misused by women. The campaign raises the question whether the women should remain silent and whether the system, including the police and the judiciary can support them in breaking their silence.

The performance was followed by a panel discussion moderated by well know poet, Shri Ashok Chakradhar. The panellist included Indira Jaisingh – noted lawyer and former ASG, Nalini Singh – author and eminent journalist, Vijay Jolly – All India In-charge & Prabhari of Tripura State, BJP and All India In-charge & Convenor of Foreign Cell, BJP, Dr. Shobha Vijender – Councillor MCD and Founder President – Sampurna, Vimla Mehra – Special Commissioner of Police and former DG (Prisons), Arunima Kumar and Dr. Vartika Nanda. The diversity of background of the panellists resulted in an engaging and fruitful discussion where it was recognized that while women of today are beginning to speak up, much more needs to be done to support them in the long and arduous journey of seeking justice.  The plight is heightened in case of the victim belonging to the elite section of the society as the power equations are more often than not tilted in favour of the accused, resulting in more victims choosing to remain silent.

Both Nanda and Kumar have closely observed the issue of crime against women and feel that social boycotting of the accused, instead of defamation of the victim, can go a long way in helping women break their silence. The programme was specifically organized for senior civil servants and members of the judiciary. Dr. Vartika Nanda is a media trainer, gender communicator, voice of women empowerment and a media traveller. She has devoted herself to media teaching, practise, training and creating awareness toward the issue of crime against women through media and literature. The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, conferred the Stree Shakti Puraskar to her this year on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Arunima Kumar is a highly acclaimed Kuchipudi performer, teacher and choreographer. She has performed and toured over 35 countries at prestigious festivals and spaces giving over 500 performances including those at Sydney Opera House, Khajuraho dance festival, among others.

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