By Jyotsna Siddharth & Vidisha Fadescha
This essay is part of a series titled, ‘Challenging Visual Depiction of Women and Sexual Violence in Southasia’ published by The Southasia Trust. Editorial support was provided by Laxmi Murthy, Director and Pawas Manandhar, Program Manager, Hri Institute for Southasian Research and Exchange, an initiative of The Southasia Trust, Kathmandu. This article is available for free download and reproduction for educational and other non-commercial purposes. For any commercial reproduction, permission must be obtained from The South Asia Trust
What set Delhi to become “the rape capital” was the December 2012 gang-rape and murder of a young physiotherapy student, dubbed by the media as “Nirbhaya” (Fearless), “Damini” (Lightening), and “India’s daughter”. On the other hand, the gang-rape and murder of Dalit teenagers in Badaun is termed “India hanged girls’ case”. Everyday there are countless accounts of caste-based violence in India that fail to gather similar momentum from the media, the government and civil society, in the way that Nirbhaya did.
The complex layering of misogyny, interplaying with Brahmanical patriarchy hand in gloves with heteronormative state, defines how some citizens are valued more over the others. Some lives are more desirable and therefore, worth “saving” as compared to ‘others’. Such narratives shape the treatment meted out to the ‘victim’ and the ‘perpetrator’ belonging to a certain caste, class, religion, region as shown by the popular media. There is a pressing need to therefore shift this narrative through exploring language and how it feeds into image making.
Read and Download the essay through the pdfBELOW
Jyotsna Siddharth (She/They) is an actor, self-taught artist, activist and writer. Jyotsna’s practice spreads across institutional building, intersectionality, arts, activism, theatre and development. As an artist and actor, they work closely with several social art spaces and collectives to push boundaries of individual and societal comforts and criticality, to deepen nuances, compassion and empathy. Jyotsna has co-founded social art project- Sive (2017), Founded Project Anti Caste Love (2018), Dalit Feminism Archive (2019). They have a master’s in Development Studies from TISS Mumbai and Social Anthropology from School of Oriental and African Studies, London and a recipient of Chevening Scholarship, British High Commission (2014). In 2020, they were featured as 40 under 40 by Edex and New Indian Express and advisory board of Feminism in India, The Rights Collective UK, Giving Tuesdays and CPA Project. Jyotsna’s work has featured in Times of India, The Hindu, Roundtable India, Savari, Feminism in India, Smashboard, Ashoka Literature Festival, Vogue India, Mid- Day, The Rights Collective UK, Feminism in India, The Swaddle, The Citizen, DHRDNet, UN Women Asia and Pacific, Manchester University Press, India Culture Lab, Grazia India, Party Office, Documenta Fifteen, News18, Khirkee Voice, Khoj and more.
Vidisha-Fadescha is an artist-curator working in visual arts and nightlife. Their video works engage performance, text and sound, archiving pluralities of radical figures. Vidisha has founded Party Office, an anti-caste, anti-racist, transfeminist art and social space in New Delhi, India, that also operates at satellite locations and as conceptual architecture. Through publications, grants, radical archives, conversations of life lived, social gatherings, parties and more, they are building trans-national dialogues on empathetic futures, care communities and radical agency. Having an exhibition and organising practice since 2009, “Party Office b2b Fadescha” were exhibiting artists at documenta fifteen, Kassel 2022.