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Stalking of Women considered Cool and Romantic in Indian Movies: say Activists

Tamil films routinely promote stalking as an acceptable, even preferred way of wooing a woman

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Cinemagoers watch Tamil film "Kabali" inside a movie theatre in Mumbai, India, July 22, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui - RTSJ55Y

CHENNAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation), Sept 21, 2016: Urging the film industry to stop glorifying a crime that has resulted in violent deaths, activists on Tuesday protested that the portrayal of women chased and harassed by spurned lovers in south Indian films has made stalking a “cool, romantic thing to do.”

“Tamil films routinely promote stalking as an acceptable, even preferred way of wooing a woman,” drama researcher Iswarya V. stated in an online petition that is gathering support from movie-goers, activists and even a few actors, mentioned Reuters report.

“These films continually reinforce the message that stalkers will ultimately be rewarded for their persistence…It also denies women the right to say ‘no’ to their stalker.”

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According to Reuters, the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has reported half a dozen cases in last few months of women being murdered in their homes, classrooms as well as in public spaces for rejecting demand or proposal of men who have stalked them.

This year in August, a stalker walked into the home of a schoolgirl, set himself on fire and hugged her, all the while saying that he would not let her live for spurning him.

In another incident in July, in the broad daylight, a female software engineer was hacked to death at a train station in the port city of Chennai by a man who had stalked her for months.

Nearly four out of five women in India have faced public harassment ranging from staring, insults and wolf-whistling to being followed, groped or raped, said a recent survey by the charity ActionAid UK.

The Government of India recently brought in tougher penalties for gender crimes, which included criminalising stalking and voyeurism.

“But our cinema has normalised this crime and encourages this impunity,” said Kirthi Jayakumar, founder of non-profit group The Red Elephant Foundation that promotes gender equality to Reuters.

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Most of the Tamil films are variations of the same theme – a boy falls in love with a girl, pursues her, she says no and then he stalks her till she reciprocates his affection. The movies bank on this well-worn plot to get box office cash registers ringing.

“The problem is when we watch these movies in an audience that is cheering the hero on, clapping and hooting, it gives the impression that everything being enacted is normal, acceptable behaviour,” Iswarya told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We want to flag it as a serious issue because none of these films are given an adult certification, making them accessible to even children.”

The 28-year-old in her petition urges producers and directors to “stop depicting stalking as a playful and acceptable way to woo a woman”. The petition asks actors to “reject” those roles where a woman is stalked to win her love.

– prepared by NewsGram team with inputs from Reuters

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‘It is time to see the world through a Feminist Gaze’, says Shabana Azmi

Jio MAMI hosted a brunch to discuss and inspire women equality and quality films, which was graced by Manisha Koirala, Shabana Azmi, Kiran Rao, Anupama Chopra, Sayani Gupta, Kriti Sanon, Neha Dhupia and many more

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Shabana Azmi
Shabana Azmi. Wikimedia

Mumbai, October 17, 2017: Veteran actress Shabana Azmi on Monday said it is the time people started seeing the world through a “feminine gaze”.

The pro-equality actress was speaking at “#F for Freedom MAMI” segment of Jio MAMI 19th Mumbai Film Festival.

“I am very delighted that MAMI this year is concentrating on making women’s work more visible. I think it is high time that we started to see the world through feminine gaze,” she said.

Jio MAMI hosted a brunch to discuss and inspire women equality and quality films, which was graced by Manisha Koirala, Shabana Azmi, Kiran Rao, Anupama Chopra, Sayani Gupta, Kriti Sanon, Neha Dhupia and many more.

ALSO READ Divya Khosla Kumar wishes to make ‘Women Oriented Films’ now

Manisha Koirala, who has been vocal about gender equality, said she was happy that JIO MAMI is recognizing women’s contribution.

“Tumhari Sulu” actress Neha Dhupia said that things aren’t changing but with a little initiative, things will change in coming times. “Just because there is a women-centric film after 30-40 others release, everyone feels that things are changing but they are not changing just yet.”

Kiran Rao, the lady behind the initiative, expressed that main objective was to inspire women and get them in mainstream cinema, either in front or behind.

“The initiative was started two years ago, to inspire females to be part of the film industry, not just tell their stories. We want females to join film industry as writers, actors, technicians, creative arts and camera persons as this will improve the condition of women,” said Kiran.

Film critic Anupama Chopra said that the issue of equality in the film was not just limited to Bollywood, “it is rampant everywhere”. (IANS)

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UN Brings the World Together to Fight Violence Against Women and Girls; 1 in Every 3 Women Currently Face Gender-based Oppression Globally

A third of all women experience violence at some point in their lives, and that figure is twice as high in some countries, according to the United Nations

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Head of U.N. Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka speaks on stage at WE Day U.N. at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, in New York City (VOA)

United Nations, September 21, 2017 : World leaders meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday launched a half-billion-dollar effort to end violence against women and girls, a crime suffered by 1 in 3 in their lifetimes.

The effort will fund anti-violence programs that promote prevention, bolster government policies and provide women and girls with improved access to services”, organizers said.

It will take particular aim at all categories of violence against women- human trafficking, femicide and family violence.

A third of all women experience violence at some point in their lives, and that figure is twice as high in some countries, according to the United Nations.

“Gender-based violence is the most dehumanizing form of gender oppression. It exists in every society, in every country rich and poor, in every religion and in every culture,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, head of U.N. Women, said as the United Nations held its annual General Assembly.

“If there was anything that was ever universal, it is gender inequality and the violence that it breeds against women,” she said.

In other forms of violence against women and girls, more than 700 million women worldwide were married before they were 18, and at least 200 million women and girls have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries, according to U.N. figures.

The initiative of 500 million euros (US$595 million) was launched by the U.N. and the European Union, which is its main contributor, organizers said.

“The initiative has great power,” said Ashley Judd, a Hollywood actress and goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) who participated in Wednesday’s announcement.

ALSO READ Violence against Women and Girls Imposes Large-scale Costs on Families, Communities and Economies, says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

“There are already so many effective, research-based, data-driven programs,” Judd told the Thomson Reuters Foundation ahead of the announcement. “Financing for existing programs is a beautiful thing.

“It also makes an incredibly powerful statement to show that the world is increasingly cohesive around stopping gender-based violence,” she said. (VOA)

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‘We shouldn’t have feminism in society’: Kangana Ranaut

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Kangana Ranaut
Kangana Ranaut. IANS

Mumbai, Sep 15, 2017:  Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, often caught in controversies due to her outspoken nature, says she is not a man-hater, and that she hopes to see a society which does not need feminism.

The National Award-winning actress was present here at the Jagran Cinema Summit on Friday. During an interaction session here, she was asked about her opinion on feminism and why some people called her a ‘man-hater’ after her fiery interviews in the last couple of weeks.

In response to that, Kangana said: “No, I am not a man-hater for sure… I think feminism is something… a sorry state to be in any society. The gender equality should be there, where feminism doesn’t need to act like a medicine on inequality.

“We should not have feminists, we shouldn’t have all these things… We shouldn’t have feminism in society.”

Kangana has always made some unusual choices in films — be it “Fashion”, “Tanu Weds Manu”, “Queen” or “Simran” — and how bold she is about making statements on her struggles in her personal and professional life.

Asked about her courage, Kangana said: “See, a person’s opinion shouldn’t have to do anything with her profession. My profession should not determine my voice as an individual. I think before an actress, I am a woman and a citizen of this country with a free voice, and my voice should be free from all baggage.” (IANS)