To combat violence against women, the Kolkata leg of the One Billion Rising (OBR) campaign was launched on Friday at Rotary Sadan with a three-day festival that includes film screenings and discussions.
The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) started the unique global initiative to campaign against gender-based violence on November 23, 2012, by simultaneously inaugurating the festival in multiple cities across India.
According to UN statistics, one in three women on the planet is beaten of raped in her lifetime - in short, a billion women experience violence, hence the title. To end this violence ‘once and for all’, OBR has been urging people around the world to stand up and say “Enough!”
According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2011 data, West Bengal recorded the highest number of crimes against women of all the India states. In fact, the incidence of rape has risen by 60% between 2004 and 2011, compared to a 33% rise in the rest of India.
“The aim is to organised people the world over, the call for complete elimination of all forms of gender violence. We must exhibit zero tolerance and fight systematic political, socioeconomic and cultural discrimination against women,” Anuradha Kapoor, founder of Swayam, a non-profit women’s rights organisation and Kolkata partner of IAWRT.
The festival opened with a video message from Eve Ensler, feminist founder of OBR, calling all men, women and children to drop whatever they’re doing on February 14, 2013, and walk out, dance and demand to end gender-based violence. The day has been designated as OBR day.
To highlight imaged and voice courage, protest and hope, the festival is showcasing a range of short films, documentaries and full-length features from India, USA, Pakistan , Afghanistan and France, among other countries, followed by panel discussions on gendercentric issues.
“The sad reality is films and festivals like these are more necessary than ever. Violence against not only women but also transgender people is growing in most cultures and communities. The aim is to hear such stories from across the word and, most importantly, to take the discourse forward,” IAWRT India coordinator and curator of the festival, Smriti Nevatia said.