Video released as part of Population Foundation of India's campaign on ending violence against women and girls
Mumbai: Chandigarh girl Varnika Kundu is known to many as the girl who fought her attackers. She showed courage and fought her 'influential' stalkers inspiring others to fight against violence. A film on her experience was released today by the Population Foundation of India (PFI). PFI released the video as part of its campaign to end violence against women and girls titled 'Bas Ab Bahut Ho Gaya – Enough is Enough!’ .
The video is Varnika’s account of the night she was stalked in her hometown, Chandigarh. It is a story that a lot of women and young girls will relate to. What makes Varnika's story different is that she chose to take on her stalkers and used her presence of mind to call the police. However, Varnika's fight is not over. The stalkers belong to influential political families and her battle to fight the pressure is likely to go on for a very long time.
Varnika says she would not have been able to fight such a powerful set-up if her family did not support her. Her mother who was also interviewed in the video mentions how many told her that nobody would marry Varnika since she was too 'bold'.
As Varnika puts it, “We cannot let fear hold us back. We cannot be afraid anymore. That is exactly what gives the stalkers, the abusers, the harassers, who try and shame us, the power to do what they do. If the fear stops us from fighting for our own rights, then how can we ever hope to reclaim our own spaces?”
Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India adds, “It is deeply saddening and regressive that the character of women who are out late at night is questioned. We need more women like Varnika but we definitely need more parents like hers who don’t just fight against violence but also against the stigma that society associates with victims and survivors. The fact that Varnika was subjected to political pressure apart from societal pressure points to the challenges that girls and women face even today across the country”.
Thespian and director Feroz Abbas Khan adds, “The fact that no one asks a man why he is out late at night but casts aspersions on women who are out at night is what needs to change. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to ensure a safer society for our women. And we won’t be able to achieve it if we don’t teach our sons how to treat women, and simultaneously our daughters on how to fight for their respect."
This video is part of a series of films being released digitally to generate debate and promote positive change in cultural and social norms around the value of women in India. Celebrities have joined this campaign to relay messages that motivate young girls to stand up against violence, and show boys that violence is not a sign of masculinity. Apart from these films, there are several activities including panel discussions on college campuses as well as a filmmaking contest that have been part of this year-long campaign. A concert titled ‘Lalkaar’ was held in Mumbai in November 2017 as a part of this campaign, which witnessed performances by Farhan Akhtar, Salim-Sulaiman, Armaan Malik, Prakriti- Sukriti, Harshdeep Kaur, Papon. The video can be seen here.