The Indian woman using her body to fight for equality

Imagine a younger female starting a overall performance standing naked on a level. In conservative indian society, it is very
difficult to imagine however for playwright and actor mallika taneja, the frame is the most powerful device within the war for ladies's equality. She instructed the bbc's ayeshea perera what motivates her.


"the first time i done bare in a genuinely public space ...It become notable amusing.
"there has been a digicam individual there and if you watch his photos you can see a jerk while the lighting come on due to the fact he literally fell over in shock. And a person inside the audience stated 'aiyo!'," mallika taneja recalls, giggling.
But even though it is the most mentioned component of her play, the 33-yr-vintage says nudity is not the factor of her piece.
Thoda dhyan se (be a bit careful) is supposed to provoke humans into thinking about whether women's garb actually has any correlation with sexual violence.
It's also, in a feel, an expression of some thing she says motivates a number of her paintings - the impact of a unmarried body in any given situation.
Mallika tanejaimage copyrightclaudia pajewski
Photograph caption
Her play questions whether apparel has any correlation with sexual violence
"what does it take for a group to be dispersed? Just one character dissenting.
"a unmarried frame can stand in the center of a crowd and produce it to a halt," she says.
"as an example, if a group of people are walking one manner, all it takes is simply one man or woman running the alternative manner to disrupt the waft."
The opening scene - in which she stands naked and looks at her target market for a complete 8 minutes - is an example of that.
In each overall performance she has executed in the last 4 years, she says, the ones first minutes have been met with a silence that "fills the room".
In that moment, ms taneja provides, as she watches her audience watch her, she is aware that even though outnumbered, she is the maximum powerful frame in that area. But she is also the most inclined.
"as a lady particularly, i discover the entire idea charming. What is it about our our bodies that terrifies people so much, that it constantly needs to be hidden away and controlled?"
Performing bare on level remains an unnerving enjoy for her. She may be very strict about not permitting cellular telephones and other recording devices inside the corridor. Substantially, inside the four years that she has executed the play, now not a single image or video of her nudity has surfaced on line.
Because the play is going on, ms taneja wears an increasing number of clothes, even setting on a helmet sooner or later, on every occasion explaining to her target audience that as a female, she wishes to "be a touch cautious".
Mallika tanejaimage copyrightclaudia pajewski
Picture caption
Many men have known as ms taneja's performance an eye-opener
"be a little careful" is a phrase which even though frequently used with difficulty, continues to be a subtle shape of victim shaming in cases of sexual assault. Ladies are frequently requested why were they out that past due at night? Why have been they alone with men? Why have been they dressed a sure manner? They are continuously instructed that if something happens to them, then they're also partially responsible, that they have to have "been a little careful".
It is this attitude that ms taneja is attempting to challenge, using her own frame as a weapon.
"women become aware of with the piece without difficulty, however what is vital is that many men say it has been a watch-opener for them. A number of them say that once looking the play, they experience horrible approximately being male. But that isn't the point of my piece, it is now not to lead them to experience terrible, it's to begin conversations."
Her choice for solo work is partly inspired through her very own life-style. Ms taneja is unmarried, lives by means of herself and does not work a regular 9-to-5 process however can pay her personal bills through her theatre work.
She concedes that achievement, and the financial security that has come with it, has given her plenty extra power to face up to.
"no-one - no longer my father, no-one in my own family - questions my lifestyle or my work," she says.
This form of fiercely impartial existence is not as rare as it once changed into, however continues to be by no means the norm in india. If unmarried, many girls might be predicted to retain dwelling in their parental houses.
But it is precisely this sort of rebel - unseen yet giant - this is seeing such a lot of younger indian women come out of the shadows and assert their rights. And that is what ms taneja says she additionally tries to seize in her paintings.
"we do have the electricity to mention no. Yes there may be consequences, and it's far less complicated for a number of us to do it than others, but subsequently it is as much as us. If we do not say no to the things taking place to us, who will?"
Mallika tanejaimage copyrightclaudia pajewski
Photograph caption
Ms taneja is unmarried, lives with the aid of herself and does not have a strict 9-to-5 activity
If a woman says no even once, she adds, then they will have made their contribution to the cause of equality. And at the same time as she acknowledges the importance of larger actions to bring human beings together, she reiterates that subsequently, alternate will most effective take place while the person has decided to take a stand.
In 2012, india noticed that happen. The awful delhi gang rape triggered loads of hundreds of ladies to pop out on to the streets, shouting that that they had placed up with sufficient. India's hard new rape laws and a whole trade in the way rape was pronounced and mentioned, had been direct outcomes of that anger.
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Ms taneja's play changed into triggered via her very own anger in the direction of a similar case that occurred a year later in mumbai when a photojournalist was gang-raped at the same time as on assignment.
"what is the fight for? Our bodies and the whole lot they bring about," she says.
She does get requested a few tough questions even though.
Mallika tanejaimage copyrightclaudia pajewski
Picture caption
Ms taneja is a fierce campaigner against victim-shaming
A whole lot of ladies who've watched her play ask her if she might have completed the piece if she had now not been narrow.
"i don't know the answer to that. This is the frame i've constantly had. All i will say to them is 'i'm hoping so'. But having said that, i'm aware that i've a kind of frame that is extra 'ideal' to society," she says thoughtfully.
She concedes that with each performance it has end up less complicated, and standing in front of strangers is constantly higher than seeing someone she is aware of inside the target audience. However there are still off days.
"occasionally i simply don't sense true. Every now and then i have my period. However i nevertheless must exit there, rise up directly and do it," she says.
"but it's far my frame and that i refuse to lose manage of it

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