Zubaan Poster Women Archives: Against Violence

Violence against women is the biggest challenge of the women’s movement.

From its very inception, the women’s movement in India has focused on violence against women as a key area of struggle, with the early campaigns addressing some of the more obvious forms of violence such as rape, dowry, widow immolation.

“Do You Know?”
A collage of posters against violence. Each of the images of this poster is taken from a separate poster, and they cover issues from rape, police brutality, domestic violence, trafficking and so on.

Poster on all the strictures that are put on women: ‘Do not go out in the dark, do not go out alone… do not live.’

“Those who have power use violence to maintain it.”

The husband beats the wife, the mother-in-law beats the daughter-in-law. How can you accept this? Resist violence.

“Women face violence in the home, they face the violence of religion and caste outside.”

Part of the annual fortnight to protest violence against women, VDAY is marked by meetings and discussions all over the country.

Two key cases catalysed the nationwide campaign against rape: one of a young tribal woman in Mathura who was raped by two policemen, and the other of a poor woman, Rameeza Bee, whose attackers, also policemen, killed her husband. The subsequent campaign led to major changes in the rape law in the mid-1980s. Similarly, the anti-dowry campaign, sparked off by a number of newspaper reports about the unnatural deaths of young newly- married women, also resulted in legal change.

Girls are being sold. Beware! Protecting them is our responsibility.

“I had a dream of a beautiful house, loving husband and children. All was shattered when I came to know that I was given for sex trade on the pretext of marriage.
We have promised to stop trafficking of women and children.”

This poster was created sometime in 1997/98 during a poster-making workshop organized at the National Gallery of Modern Art by Dasrath Patel and Sadanand Menon. This poster in particular was supervised by Sadanand himself.

“Is this a private matter? No, it is a crime,” says a poster that shows neighbours taking an active part in stopping domestic violence.

“No more silence.” A poster protesting domestic violence.

“How can equal rights be achieved in a cruel society? Change that society first.”

Among the other forms of violence that the movement has taken up some have been more difficult to address because they take place in the private realm, and women are reluctant to speak about them. Today, nearly a quarter century after it began to be raised publicly, women’s groups have secured some legal change in relation to domestic violence and sexual harassment.

“Let us make our homes free from domestic violence.”.

This poster deals with the serious issue of suicide. The 24 Parganas region records a high rate of adolescent suicide and this poster shows a young unmarried woman who has killed herself because she discovers she is pregnant. The caption reads: “equip us with knowledge and information so we do not destroy ourselves. We have a lot to contribute to society.”

A poster showing a young bride running away from her wedding ceremony. The caption reads: “I want to play, I want to fly and be free as a bird, I want to enjoy the company of my friends, I want to laugh and go to school. I don’t want to go into my in-laws’ house and lead a life like my mother’s. I don’t want a groom.” Child marriage is very high in this area.

In the area of health too, the violence of imposing coercive family planning, forcing contraceptives and banned drugs on women, became major campaign issues, as did the crime of female infanticide and foeticide which has skewed the sex ratio in many parts of the country.

“This fire will have to be extinguished. Break the stranglehold of fire.”The anti-dowry campaign has focused on death by fire.

“Could this be your daughter?” An anti-dowry poster.

An anti-dowry poster showing newspaper clippings of dowry murders, with the symbolic flame showing how so many women are killed.

With the growth of communalism and identity-based politics in Indian society, came the new problem of the woman as a perpetrator of violence rather than only its victim. This presents a major challenge to women’s groups and has been the cause of considerable rethinking and discussion on new strategies within the movement.

The Mathura rape case in which two policemen were acquitted of the rape of a minor tribal girl, marked the beginning of the nationwide campaign against rape. This poster looks at what, if anything, has changed ten years after Mathura.

This poster protests the violation of human rights in Manipur, more specifically the rape and murder of a Manipuri woman, Manorama, by the army. In an unprecedented gesture of rage and protest, twelve middle-aged Manipuri women stripped naked in front the army headquarters, shaming soldiers and officers.

A poster depicting police brutality.

This poster grew out of an awareness campaign on sexual harassment at the workplace, following on the Vishakha judgment by which the Supreme Court issues guidelines for setting up sexual harassment committees in offices and institutions.
Source: Bailancho Saad

This poster was part of an information campaign on the rape law.