Friday, November 29, 2013

Day 5: Women Defenders of Human Rights Day

Friday, November 29: Day 5 of the Campaign falls on Women Defenders of Human Rights Day. Prajnya screened 2 films at the Women's Christian College --  Tu Zinda Hai by Shabnam Virmani and Invoking Justice by Deepa Dhanraj, who was part of the panel discussion held after the screening. Poet Kutti Revathi and dancer Anita Ratnam were also part of the panel.

Anita Ratnam, Deepa Dhanraj and Kutty Revathi speak to students at Women's Christian College

Filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj spoke about the making of Invoking Justice, a film about the first women's Jamaat in India. An alumnus of WCC, Deepa took questions from the students on the subject of her documentary. "The women's Jamaat is successful because they interpret the Sharia in a flexible way. Some of them have a good hold on Criminal Law and they use whatever is best for a particular instance. So when there were talks of starting a women's Sharia court, these women were very concerned. They want the flexibility of a women's jamaat not rigidity of a formal court  because the court works on precedents -- and the precedents are set by already existing sharia courts, which may or may not be helpful to women," she said.

Poet Kutti Revathi spoke to the students about her work, the controversy surrounding it, and about understanding what each individual wants from their life. "My work is my passion and I am not ready to share the time I spend on my work with someone else. I'm a passionate lover, but that doesn't mean I need someone else to complete me," she said. The poet also spoke about the differing perspectives of men and women. "I wish I could find a woman to translate my poems from Tamil to English.. Men don't have the same experiences as women do, and therefore my message is not always conveyed properly."

The panel discussion revolved around gender, beauty and conflict in different art forms. Dancer Anita Ratnam explained, "Art has been used by different cultures that have been affected by violence in different ways. In post-war Germany, their dance forms have evolved into colourful celebrations of all things beautiful. But Japan on the other hand has gone to the other extreme; many of their contemporary performances are minimalistic, with sometimes no props, costumes or jewellery. This is their expression of the agony and destruction caused by war."

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