Recent Resources for Feminists
Australia: Rosie Batty, the Person of 2015 refects on becoming a tour de force against DV Print E-mail
 Monday January 25, 2016

Rosie Batty's year of grief and opportunity: 'I have been genuinely astounded'

By  Judith Ireland /National political reporter

Rosie Batty reflects

Rosie Batty reflects on the past 12 months and her achievements as Australian of the Year. (Courtesy ABC News24).

A year ago, when Rosie Batty was named the 2015 Australian of the Year, she was still reeling with "raw grief" and feared she had only won because of her son's murder.

"I'd made it to this point because of a traumatic and horrific event that was beyond my control."

But Ms Batty soon realised she was selected "because of the way that I had responded and reacted to [Luke's death]".

Rosie Batty says she was completely swamped, giving more than 250 speeches and interviews as Australian of the Year. (Graham Tidy)

Over the past 12 months, she has been busier than she ever thought possible.

With more than 250 speeches and more interviews and meetings than she can count, "I was completely swamped".

Spurred on by the chance to make a difference, Ms Batty told an audience at the National Gallery on Monday that she wanted to say "Yes" to everything.

Rosie Batty, giving her final interviews before delivering a final speech, as Australian of the Year. (Graham Tidy)

"I couldn't wait for change. I had to make it happen within my year ... before I ran out of time."

Luke Batty was killed by his father in February 2014, immediately casting Ms Batty into the public spotlight, where she began to make the case for change in the way Australia talks about and deals with domestic violence.

Reflecting on her time as Australian of the Year in a valedictory speech, Ms Batty said she had been aware that the second year of grief "is often the hardest, because everyone gets on with their life while you are still adjusting to the loss".

 Rosie Batty and Luke Batty

"But [this year] I have been genuinely astounded by the response that I have received.

"Every day, people will say positive and encouraging things out of compassion and out of respect ... I have grown in a way that I never thought possible."

But it has been a year of highs and lows.

"This journey has been conflicting, too, as I juggled grief and loss, suppressing my sadness whilst enjoying the most amazing opportunities of my life."

As she prepares to hand over the Australian of the Year reins to the 2016 winner on Monday evening, Ms Batty says she will not stop working to end domestic violence.

"Together was have created an awareness of an issue that has always been there and there is so much more to do," she said.

One in six Australian women has experienced physical violence at the hands of a current or former partner.

"Whilst family violence is still happening behind closed doors, the conversations aren't," Ms Batty said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the government would grant $500,000 over two years to the Luke Batty Foundation to enable Ms Batty to continue her work.

"Rosie's voice will continue to be there," he said.

"A powerful, persuasive, compelling advocate to tell all of us, to remind all of us, that there has to be a cultural change."

The 2016 Australian of the Year will be announced in Canberra on Monday evening.
 Thursday January 21, 2016

Rosie Batty reveals the self-doubt, grief and strength she found as Australian of the Year

By Jenna Price

Video:  Rosie Batty receives Australian of the Year award

January 2015: Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year, says she won't stop in her mission towards domestic violence.

Huge self-doubt, total exhaustion; and grief, just so much grief.

And a simple little shelf with a few mementoes.

  • It helped me survive a lonely and difficult year after Luke's death. Of course, it doesn't get any easier, but it's a distraction. - Rosie Batty

Rosie Batty's term as Australian of the Year is nearly over. She's spoken at 250 conferences to more than 70,000 people; talked all day and all night. She's done some crying, but privately.

Australian of the Year Rosie Batty at Parliament House. (Andrew Meares)

Crying in public focuses attention on her. She wants people to think about Luke and all those other victims of family violence, all the death and despair we could avoid if the system worked differently, if we thought differently.

On February 7 she flies to India to have a real holiday, far from the phone, the media and her little house in Victoria.

Far from a simple Ikea shelf in her son Luke's bedroom.

Luke Batty. (Wayne Taylor) 

"Soon after the funeral, when my family left, within weeks a friend and I went through all of Luke's bedroom ... I was so methodical and made myself do it.

"I chucked out anything that was Greg's; and all the things which were not sentimental.

"I gave things away ... [Luke's] Lego, I donated it to the Lego library in Frankston. I thought through it to make the best of where it went, making sure it went somewhere that was of benefit.

Rosie Batty on the Australians of the Year Walk beside Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

"I've kept personal things, milestone things from his birth, but they have been in a cupboard and I've not looked at those. I haven't gone through those baby memories and I haven't looked at baby photos."

And what's on the shelf in his old bedroom?

"Pieces of Lego he made, his slippers, hats, toys, his favourite books. Things that were something which meant something to him and I can look at that.

"Whenever I move, that will always be there. It's not like a shrine."

Artist Jacqui Clark painted a portrait of Luke and that's in her living room.

"Everyone sees it who comes to the house. It's not creepy. It's beautiful, it's like him.

"He is here, but not here."

Rosie Batty became Australian of the Year after the murder of her son Luke by his father Greg on February 12, 2014.

Most of us grieve in private, but Batty decided against that. She was determined to talk about family violence every single day. And she has.

Batty is the first ever ordinary Australian to be appointed Australian of the Year. She wasn't famous before the murder of her son. She was a single mother on a small income whose son was the sun in her life.

Everything she did centred on Luke: where she lived, how she spent her money. It was Scouts and drama and cricket and football.

"I didn't have any family support, I didn't have people on hand to babysit. My life was Luke and me and I worked hard to build relations with people in this area which you can more easily do when you are a parent. I didn't have a lot of spare money and it was a struggle financially."

She had absolutely no experience of dealing with the demands of public life.

"She came to prominence through the most tragic of circumstances and she astounded everyone with the power of her message," says Jeremy Lasek, chief executive of the National Australia Day Council.

"She was a very different Australian of the Year and we may never see another one like her, I think because she hadn't had a career [with] a support base or had a management structure, publicists, a support team."

Batty had much to learn - and so did the Australia Day organisation.

"We had to adjust our thinking and what we do ... Rosie being the person she is, we could have given her 10 full-time staff and it would not have been enough."

Batty credits Lasek with giving her astonishing support during the process. He says he does it for everyone but not too many Australians of the Year had to deal with the ruthless attacks of former Labor politician Mark Latham.

Says Lasek: "We had to remind each other that for every Mark Latham, there were several million people who felt she was a great choice and had given amazing service to Australia."

Now the year is over. "I don't know whether to be pleased or sad. I had no idea about the volume of contact, I had no idea and I wish I'd had a team in place to be ready to support me at the start. I didn't understand the impact it would have on my life. It places a lot of pressure on you.

"That kind of high-profile talking, anywhere from 200 to 2000, that's been new to me. I had nerves and self-doubt, huge self-doubt at the beginning, and then I became more confident when I could see people appreciated what I was saying."

A group formed around her, most of whom she didn't know before Luke died.

"What happened to me when I became Australian of the Year isolated me somewhat from some of my friends.

"But to be completely honest, my friends have got children and partners and I would have been relatively isolated anyway after Luke's death. What linked us together was Luke, but now I am doing different things.

"It helped me survive a lonely and difficult year after Luke's death. Of course, it doesn't get any easier, but it's a distraction.

"I am not in denial and I feel the loss of Luke, but it comes in waves and at a different times."

How do people respond?

"People know the quivering voice and see the tears well up and some people see me lose it and are very compassionate. I don't see pity in people's faces now and that's a relief. But some don't understand and don't expect grief to look like this and it triggers their own discomforts and insecurities. It can strain friendships and that can be within your own family as well.

"I've been disappointed. Whether its because they've upset me or I've upset them, I feel friendship is about being there through thick and thin when the worst thing in the world has happened to someone.

"We should be able to find the bigger part of ourselves."

On January 26, the Australian of the Year title moves on. Two governments have already been in talks with her about where she goes next, although she admits some frustration with politics and politicians who don't always take kindly to criticism.

"I'm obviously determined to be a strong public advocate and continue the momentum, to keep speaking out."

There are people in Batty's life who have come through with her and she now has a solid underpinning for the Luke Batty Foundation, where she will continue to be an advocate who can help Australia stop family violence.

"We are in a strong place for the future."


UK: Annie Leibovitz 16 Jan-7 Feb exhib in London explores women of note as whole human beings Print E-mail
 Thursday 14 January 2016

Annie Leibovitz: latest show explores women as 'whole human beings'

Revered photographer’s new exhibition focuses on women of note, from Lupita Nyong’o to Aung San Suu Kyi

Annie Leibovitz was first encouraged to focus an exhibition on women by her late partner Susan Sontag. (Rex/Shutterstock)

By Mark Brown Arts correspondent

She has captured thousands of faces as perhaps the world’s pre-eminent portrait photographer, but Annie Leibovitz thinks most subjects would rather be at the dentist than in front of a camera. “If they like having their picture taken something is wrong with them!”
Leibovitz was speaking at the opening of her new London show of portraits of women including Aung San Suu Kyi, Adele, the documentary-maker Laura Poitras, the ballerina Misty Copeland, and the primatologist Jane Goodall.

Goodall was one of her quickest shoots, the photographer revealed. “I only had eight minutes,” said Leibovitz. “She walked in and said, ‘you know, I hate doing this. I like going to the dentist better than this’, and I totally understand.

“I don’t know anybody who likes having their photograph taken. It is normal to not like having your picture taken because you have to deal with yourself and wonder who you are.”

She was, however, pleased by the result. “First she stuck her tongue out at me and then she settled in, and I didn’t realise until I got back to my studio that this is how she looks at a chimpanzee. This is why a chimpanzee is intrigued with her, falls in love with her – that face. I was captivated by that face.”

Leibovitz began her project portraying women in 1999 at the suggestion of her partner Susan Sontag, who died in 2004. When the Swiss bank UBS more recently approached Leibovitz to work on a possible commission, she suggested revisiting it. The result is Women: New Portraits, for which Leibovitz has photographed various women of outstanding achievement.

The one woman Leibovitz has not photographed, to her regret, is the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who she says is probably the most important woman in the world today.

“I’m on the path, I’m asking her,” she said. “I remember when I photographed Queen Elizabeth; I couldn’t believe I had the opportunity and when we were leaving I asked her press secretary ‘why did she agree now?’. She said ‘oh you wrote a letter five years ago.’ There’s a real lesson in that – perseverance.”
  Annie Leibovitz’s celebrated portrait of Caitlyn Jenner features in her exhibition. (Annie Leibovitz/AP)

One woman who is in the show is the transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner, whom Leibovitz photographed in a white corset, a version of which also featured on a recent cover of Vanity Fair.

Leibovitz said it had been a beautiful experience. “Bruce is still there but Caitlyn emerged. On some level the project wasn’t even the photograph – it was really to help Caitlyn emerge. We wanted to help her, give her the best start.

“She was very quiet the first day and we looked at a lot of imagery of women – remember this is an acquired look. By the second day it was like being dragged behind a truck; she just took over, she knew where she was going. It was like watching someone emerge, it was beautiful.”

Other subjects include Alice Waters, a restaurateur, the Russian model Natalia Vodianova, the singer Taylor Swift, the actor Lupita Nyong’o and the feminist writer Gloria Steinem, who advised on the list. They will be joined in the near future by Malala Yousafzai, Serena and Venus Williams, and the performance artist Marina Abramovi .

Steinem agreed that it was an important project: “There have not been representations of women that show them as whole human beings, so this is remedial. Yes, men can be denied their full humanity, but not as much. Each one of these photographs is a novel; it is so amazing, there is a complete human story in every photograph.”
Annie Leibovitz: ‘I couldn’t believe I had the opportunity’ to photograph the Queen. (Mike Marsland/WireImage)

The show, which includes works from the original Leibovitz series and a huge portrait of the Queen, has opened in the atmospheric Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, which was until 2013 an arts space. After London, the exhibition will travel to Tokyo, San Francisco, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mexico City, Istanbul, Frankfurt, New York and Zurich.

A set of the new photographs will then enter the UBS art collection, one of the world’s biggest corporate contemporary art collections, which features more than 30,000 works.

Women: New Portraits is a free exhibition at Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, east London, 16 January-7 February
Australia: Post-Abbott, the misogynist abuse from Liberal Party cronies continues Print E-mail
~ Wednesday January 6, 2016

Turnbull must act decisively on Dutton 'witch' comments

By Phil Cleary
Tony Abbott as opposition leader in front of posters proclaiming "Ditch the witch". (Andrew Meares)

Remember when Tony Abbott stood in front of posters on the lawns of Parliament House in 2011 exhorting Australians to "ditch the witch", our first female prime minister, Julia Gillard? Remember how not one single member of the Coalition had the courage to damn his actions, and the posters, as misogynist and capable of giving succour to violent men?

Four years later, it's a man cut from the same political cloth, the tough-talking Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, who has propelled the misogynist notion of woman as witch back into the lexicon.

It might have been a private text to a colleague, sent inadvertently to a temporary adversary, News Corp journalist Samantha Maiden, but what does it say about Dutton's view of women in modern Australia that he saw fit to reduce Maiden's opinions to those of a "mad f------ witch"? Has it escaped him that women accused of being witches were once put to death?

Rather than acknowledging his words as a form of abuse that could reasonably leave people believing he harbours a deep-seated distrust of women, the minister offered a meaningless apology. "Sam and I have exchanged some robust language over the years so we had a laugh after this and I apologised to her straightaway, which she took in good faith," he said with a smile.

The palpable truth is that like so many men – bosses of leading companies, members of the police and armed forces, judges, celebrity sportsmen and politicians among them – Dutton either doesn't understand or doesn't care to understand the cultural landscape that has sustained the epidemic of violence against women.

The anti-violence campaigners aren't propagandising when they point to the generations of women bashed, raped and murdered and then subjected to courtroom depictions and media commentary founded in the myth that they have provoked the violence inflicted upon them, often attributed to a flawed or "witch-like" personality.

Paraded as sophisticated legal argument, so much of what passes as probative inquiry in our courtrooms amounts to little more than character assassination of the kind contained in Dutton's text. That's why the law of provocation has been abolished in several Australian states and the courtroom remains a battleground for reformers.

Last month a Queensland Court of Appeal noted that Allison Baden-Clay "had in the past suffered from depression for which she was prescribed Zoloft", when it controversially dismissed a properly instructed jury's finding that her husband had murdered her. Her state of mind gave veracity, the court said, to the possibility that the mother of three had engaged in an "angry attack" on her husband, who had unwittingly killed her. Her supporters reacted indignantly to the finding and the implication she was "mad" or anything less than a caring and sensible woman.

It seemed those dark days of denying the state's complicity in the scourge of violence against women might be coming to an end when, on White Ribbon Day 2015, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull offered a "special tribute to the victims of domestic violence, past and present, who have borne the burden of our failure to act for too long", adding that "violence against women is the end point of disrespecting women", and that the solution lies in "significant cultural change".

How can the Prime Minister's words now be treated seriously when a key minister's default position on a woman who crosses him is that her views are those of a "mad witch"? What hope is there when men of such antiquated views occupy positions of power in Turnbull's government?

Try as they might to hide behind the excuse that the use of the word "witch" amounts to nothing more than a robust sledge, the apologists' days are numbered. Having drawn a nexus between male disrespect for women and the epidemic of violence, the Prime Minister cannot maintain the position that Dutton's comments were merely inappropriate. If he is genuine when he says only cultural change can end the violence, he must either sack Dutton or force him to deliver an apology that acknowledges the harm his words have done to the anti-violence campaign.

If the Prime Minister chooses neither of these courses of action, he faces being pilloried by the opposition.

"If little boys see their fathers disrespecting their mothers, they will grow up to disrespect their partners. If they see their mothers respected, they will respect their sisters." So said Malcolm Turnbull on White Ribbon Day. How can those words carry any weight when one of his ministers fosters the malicious idea among his colleagues that a non-compliant woman should be deemed a "mad witch"?

That Maiden appears to have forgiven Dutton for his comments should not and does not lessen the significance of the words or their implications for the government. How she responds emotionally might be her prerogative, but it has little bearing on any objective judgment, mine or the community's, on Dutton's words. As with the "ditch the witch" posters in 2011, we know there can be no escaping the implications for gender relations of a public figure calling a woman a witch. It remains a black mark on Australian political and social history that Gillard was left to her own devices to decry the posters. How different history would look had Turnbull stood with the prime minister, with both sides of politics rising in the House of Representatives to decry the posters and their dangerous implications for women. It was an opportunity lost.

If Australia was a truly democratic society, devoid of gender inequality, misogyny and chronic violence against women, Dutton's comments might have less significance. However, with homicide rates – more than 60 "domestic" murders of women in 2015 – and the violence surging, we are in the middle of a crisis in which there is no room for bystanders. Having nailed his colours to the mast, Turnbull must act. If he doesn't act decisively and publicly, he'll have lost me and, I suspect, many reformers who welcomed and praised his White Ribbon Day speech.

Phil Cleary is a writer, broadcaster and former independent federal MP.

 Wednesday January 6, 2016

Greens leader Richard Di Natale calls for Peter Dutton's sacking

By Fergus Hunter

Dutton gaffe a 'test for Turnbull'

Labor puts pressure on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's 'boorish' text message. (Vision ABC News 24)

Greens leader Richard Di Natale has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to sack Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and to lead cultural change in Australia by ridding the Liberal Party of "rampant" sexism.

Senator Di Natale called Mr Dutton a "serial offender" who was "not able to deal with complex immigration issues" such as the case of Abyan, an asylum seeker allegedly raped on Nauru.

"Malcolm Turnbull needs to show he's serious about changing culture," Senator Di Natale said.

"One way he can do that is to ensure this repeat offender, Minister Dutton, is sent to the backbench where he belongs, and another suitable replacement is found for that difficult portfolio ... preferably a woman, a capable woman from within the Coalition ranks.

"He has made comments towards a senior journalist that do reflect the sexism that is at the heart of the Coalition government."

   Peter Dutton's SMS slip has landed him in hot water. (Andrew Meares) 

Mr Dutton is likely to avoid any further consequences for his text mishap, in which he labelled a journalist a "mad f---ing witch", which Mr Turnbull called "completely inappropriate".

Senator Di Natale said the Prime Minister should lead by example and bring about change in Australia's attitude towards women.

"What's required in this country is a change in culture. We need to see that change in culture come from the ground up, from our sporting institutions right through to politics," he said.

"I launched a domestic violence initiative on White Ribbon Day with the Prime Minister where he said very clearly that it was the responsibility of all men in Australia to call out sexism when they see it.

"That it was about men respecting their sisters, their mothers, their wives. And that where they fail to do it, they need to be called out.

"Well, the Prime Minister needs to demonstrate that he takes the issues seriously, that it's more than just rhetoric."

He also called on the government to reinstate domestic violence funding cuts and commended Liberal MP Sharman Stone for admonishing the "boys' club" in her own party.

Labor continues to call for an investigation into the leaking of a photograph of the public servant who complained about the behaviour of former cities minister Jamie Briggs.

"Actions speak louder than words and ... Mr Turnbull needs to show that he is taking this matter seriously by investigating who Mr Briggs sent this photograph to and who it was that gave it to The Australian newspaper so it could be published," shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister has rejected the calls, saying, "These leaks inquiries, they tend to come up with very little.

"I think we know the photograph was taken by Mr Briggs' phone and he shouldn't have done it."

 Wednesday January 6, 2016

'I'd call you a c---': Senator David Leyonhjelm drops the c-bomb on Twitter

By Fergus Hunter /Reporter

Following an argument on Twitter, Senator David Leyonhjelm responds by calling someone a 'c---'.

There's plenty of bad language and abuse on social media, but it doesn't usually come from an elected representative in the Australian Parliament.

Libertarian senator David Leyonhjelm has labelled someone a "c---" on Twitter during an argument over Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's text mishap, in which he labelled a female journalist a "mad f---ing witch".

Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm in his Sydney office. (Jessica Hromas)

Senator Leyonhjelm, whose profile warns that "offensive abusers are blocked", dropped the "c-bomb" the day after he called another Twitter user a "witch".

He said Acting Opposition Leader Penny Wong, who had said she would find being called a witch offensive, "protests too much" and that "offence is chosen".

User @labourareliars then asked him "if someone called you a 'baldy lunatic f---wit', you'd be fine with it?"

  1. The senator's tweet."I'd call you a c---. And probably a rude name after that," Senator Leyonhjelm responded.

The Liberal Democrat senator is on a plane to Italy. A spokesman said the senator "is a rude man" but noted people offended by his use of the word have "probably used it themselves".

The outspoken senator is no stranger to causing controversy through language:

In November, the NSW senator said that police had earned the saying "all cops are bastards".

That same month, he called children "bundles of dribble and sputum" and praised people for not having them.

In July, he labelled another Twitter user a "legitimate f---wit" when they raised his anti-wind farm views.

In June 2014, he said he thought John Howard "deserved to be shot" when the former prime minister cracked down on firearms following the Port Arthur massacre.

And following the 2014 Martin Place siege, he said tough gun laws had made Australia a "nation of victims".

Mr Dutton continues to face criticism for accidentally sending veteran News Corp political journalist Samantha Maiden a text message calling her a "mad f---ing witch". The message was intended for a colleague.

On Tuesday, Deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce implored Australia not to become too "sterile" and politically correct.

"I like that Australia is to the point," he said.

"One of the great things about Australian politics is our informality and directness and I'd hate to lose that - even if there can be faux pas."

Madhureeta Anand: Kajarya - A feature film focusing on female foeticide Print E-mail
 Thursday December 3, 2015

No, woman, no cry

By Namrata Joshi

  A still from the film Kajarya , which releases across the country this Friday
Film-maker Madhureeta Anand draws attention to female foeticide in Kajarya

It’s a feature film that comes with the support of a number of women’s groups and NGOs such as One Billion Rising, Actionaid, Sangat, Jagori, Girls Count and more.

The reason is not far to seek. Kajarya , that releases across India this Friday, examines a  shameful problem crippling our society, that of female foeticide. But, its maker, Madhureeta Anand, says she has tried to go beyond that to look at the larger fractious, dangerous world in which Indian women exist.

“I have tried to examine the psyche behind the many heinous crimes committed against women. Why do they happen and why do people just watch from a distance than intervene,” she says.

It’s the lurking sense of danger, the feeling of not being safe that she has tried to explore and evoke in the film. “It’s something most Indian women feel but men haven’t quite experienced. While I have tried to offer a sense of catharsis to women, I do hope that men will also realise what we are up against,” she says. Madhureeta’s debut was a hardcore commercial film, Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye , starring Raima Sen and Randeep Hooda. The idea for Kajarya had been sitting in her head for a long time but it was the 2010 Census and the skewed sex ratio it revealed that got her cracking on the film. She wrote several drafts of the script and eventually shot it over 30 days in the second half of 2012 in Jhajjar in Haryana (a place infamous for crimes against women) and in several villages in Uttar Pradesh.

Kajarya is the name of the film's protagonist and Madhureeta has chosen newcomers for the lead and other roles. “My film is like a fable and the newcomers make it believable, they are very close to the grain of my characters,” she says.

In fact, she even used women from the villages where she shot as secondary cast and extras. The film’s rough cut was shown in the Dubai film festival last year.

I have tried to offer a sense of catharsis to women - Madhureeta Anand,Film-maker
 November 18, 2015

Female infanticide more in cities than villages: ‘Kajarya’ filmmaker

By: IANS | New Delhi

Filmmaker Madhureeta Anand, who made a deep study of female infanticide in the country in her film “Kajarya”, says she was surprised that the practice is more rampant in cities than in villages.

“Sex selective abortions happen more in the cities now than in the villages. The sex ratios are dropping much faster in Delhi and Mumbai than in the villages. It is very worrying. I don’t think it is a phenomenon which is just rural,” Anand told IANS.

For years, the issue of female infanticide has plagued society, but of late, whether it’s television shows, social campaigns, activists, actors or films, voices have been raised against it. Anand, whose first film was “Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye”, is herself happy that women are no longer reticent to talk about issues as grave as infanticide.

“The women really have a lot to say, but building trust (within them) is a part and parcel of the job. I think when people face this problem, they know it is a problem. They do not deny it. They might say that you are exaggerating it, but they won’t deny it because it is an issue in their faces,” the 42-year-old said.

To spread awareness about female infanticide, Anand even hosted special screenings of “Kajarya” in a few villages across north India. She wanted her 125-minutes- long movie to be watched by screenings for women who have been privy to the social evil.

In fact, Anand also tied up with NGOs like One Billion Rising, Sangat and Action Aid to spread the message in villages particularly. She said that it was a way to “use the film as a tool for emancipation and social change”

The movie tells the story of two women from different backgrounds, wherein one lives in a village and has the job of killing the baby, while the other is an opportunistic journalist from New Delhi. Actress Meena Hooda plays the former role, while Ridhima Sud is cast as a journalist.

Kajarya” was premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2013, and travelled to several other movie extravaganzas, evoking strong reactions.

Asked about the importance of international film festivals as many Indian films have taken to premiering at such platforms ­ be it “Masaan” , “The Lunchbox”, “Margarita With A Straw”, “Dhanak” or “Titli” ­ Anand shared that it is “a sad reality, but in India we like the stamp of foreigners”.

“With films also, we somehow don’t trust our own judgement. So, that stamp of quality helps, but the second really good reason to take ‘Kajarya’ abroad and what really helped me was that I showed it to so many audiences, and I got feedback for it,” she said.

The film will be up for judgement by the Indian audience on December 4.
 Mumbai ~ Wednesday December 2, 2015

Kajarya review: This feisty, hard-hitting film on female foeticide is not an easy watch

by Subhash K Jha

Sitting numb at the end of this deeply disturbing film on female infanticide, Kajarya, I was informed that 10 million girls have been killed in our country since the 1980s.

This is no country for women. Think about what girls have to go through, from the foetal position to the missionary. If and when they are born, girl children have to face constant discrimination even in educated, ‘liberal’ families where the male heir is automatically given preferential treatment. When girls grow up they face perverse prejudices, unspeakable harassment and unchecked abuse from a civilisation that seems to think women are prey to every form of unwanted attention.

Given the backdrop, Madhureeta Anand’s film Kajarya is intrinsically depressing. She builds a sense of profound oppression , distrust and foreboding from her female characters’ inability to rise above their lot. You can belong to any social strata. But if you are woman you get seriously stymied in thought and action.

This melancholic drama opens with a visibly devastated women sprawled on a charpai. A man prods her awake, ‘Wake up, it’s time’ From this intriguing beginning the narrative builds surehandedly if somewhat jerkily and unevenly ,into a ghoulish suspense drama in a Haryanvi village, where little newly-born girl children are being sacrificed by heretic ritualists.
A still from Kajarya. (Facebook).

Kajarya is not an easy film to watch. With its oppressive ambience of gender atrocities, the other film that comes closest to this one is Manish Jha’s Matrabhoomi. I had sleepless night after watching Jha’s utterly joyless drama of female subjugation. One needs nerves of steel to digest the bitter horrific truth about the plight of the female sex in Kajarya.

The execution of the theme is somewhat self-righteous, reeking more of propagandist martyrdom at times.

Director Madhureeta Anand has our attention by force. She does not allow audiences the luxury to flinch or turn away. The nerve wracking narrative (don’t look for light moments in this grim drama of the damned) force-feeds us with its treatise of gender exploitation to the point when every female character , including the protagonist who has self-admittedly butchered dozens of babies, seem like a victim.

Barring one interesting exception(a Haryanvi man with a little daughter whom he protects ferociously against aggression) every male character here is either a lout or a lech, including a journalist's boyfriend, who is an upperclass brat who pounces on her for sex and demands she wear ‘decent’ clothes work every time they meet.

In one clumsily written but nonetheless effective love-making sequence Nikhil fumbles with Mira’s pants to perform oral sex , and gives up while Mira does the needful smoothly.Ah, what would we do without women!

Women, in Madhureeta Anand’s film are smarter and far more capable than men and yet assigned a subservient status by a social order that sanctions the penis to be the tyrant. It’s all a little lopsided. But then who are we to complain? We brought this on ourselves through centuries of gender inequality.

This is a film that shivers and dilates to a music of simmering discontent. Somewhere in the second-half Lata Mangeshkar’s classic lament of treachery and betrayal "Mohabbat ki jhoothi kahani pe roye," from Mughal-e-Azam surfaces to remind us how time passes by.

The women in Kajarya are doughty victims, but victims nonetheless. Towards the end the director brings together the two female protagonists, the Delhi journalist Mira and the Haryanvi child killer Kajarya, for a confrontation. And that just didn’t move me. Maybe by then I was too numbed to react to the on screen drama. Also, Meenu Hooda, who plays the title role of the rustic Haryanvi woman, was a little too urban and way too old to play the character in the flashbacks.

Riddhima Sud, seen making a pleasant debut in Zoya Akhtar’s Dil Dhadkane Do, is well cast as the annoyingly self-fixated Delhi journalist who throws all caution to the winds for a scoop. Kudip Ruhil as the village goon, who undertakes monstrous manipulations in the name of religion, is suitably squalid.

Kajarya is not quite the long-legged social statement that the film’s well-researched plot would suggest. But it has its heart in the right place.

India: Child Marriage, more frequently of Brides, widespread despite prohibiting laws Print E-mail
 December 11, 2015 (Volume 32, Issue 24)

Data Card

Too young to wed

The scourge of child marriage continues to be widespread in India despite the laws prohibiting the practice (Sandeep Saxena )


Census of India 2011 data show that child marriage is widespread in the country, especially in the rural areas. Despite the existence of laws that forbid child marriage by setting the legal age of marriage at 18 for women and 21 for men, hundreds of thousands of boys and girls, some as young as 10, are married off by their parents or families in the name of upholding a tradition that has no place in civilised society today.

The most disturbing statistic that emerges from the data is the prevalence of such marriage, mainly in the 10- to 14-year age group, in all the most populous States, without exception. The worst offender is Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of child brides and child grooms in the country, followed by Maharashtra, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, and Gujarat. There are at least 1 lakh child brides in that age group in each of these States. The southern States of (undivided) Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu also rank high, above Haryana, Jharkhand and Odisha, which are considered more backward. Even Kerala, 100 per cent literate, recorded more than 30,000 such marriages.

The prevalence of child marriage is, not surprisingly, more commonplace among girls aged 15 to 17 in the key States. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of child brides, nearly 5.50 lakh in this age group. In terms of proportion of population, Rajasthan is the worst offender, with over 3.24 lakh instances, accounting for nearly 16 per cent of the total number of girls in that age group. In West Bengal, Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Assam and Maharashtra, the figure is at least 10 per cent.

Uttar Pradesh has the dubious distinction of topping in the number of child grooms, having more than 11.76 lakh married males in the 15 to 20 age group. However, Rajasthan again tops in terms of percentage of the population of the category, with 6.9 lakh married males in the ages of 15 to 20, or 14.39 per cent of all males in the age group. Gujarat is second in terms of percentage, while Bihar is second in absolute numbers.

The Census data also show that the regionwise distribution of child brides, aged 15 to 17, is uneven for the most part, with an overwhelming majority found in rural areas in the most of the key States, while Tamil Nadu and Kerala alone recorded nearly even distribution.
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