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Stop showing women as damsels in distress — VHP message to film and TV serial producers

VHP Matru Shakti, which works on women’s issues, says it is planning a campaign that aims to change the portrayal of women in TV serials and films.

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New Delhi: The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) wants to do something about women empowerment. And its first step in this direction will be tackling the depiction of women in television programmes and movies as damsels in distress who need to be rescued. 

The VHP’s Matru Shakti, a unit involved in working on women’s issues, told ThePrint that it is planning a campaign that aims to change the portrayal of women, which it believes contributes to crime against them. The VHP, an organisation seeking to promote Hindutva, will also seek the government and the Censor board’s involvement in the campaign, Matru Shakti ‘central minister’ Minakshi Pishwe said.

“Every TV serial… contains a message that we should call and inform [the regulator] about the portions we find offensive. Through our campaign, we will make people aware about this provision and appeal to them to call in large numbers to stop the objectionable scenes,” she added. “We will also create awareness in such a manner that people come forward on their own to participate in this campaign.”

Matru Shakti wants government regulators to implement a strict code to regulate content, saying the depiction of women in TV serials and movies goes against Indian culture. 

According to Pishwe, the VHP wants television and films “to portray women protecting themselves rather than some saviour coming to protect them”. 

“The advertisements in newspapers and [on TV] are dishing out obscenity. These advertisements increase crime against women,” she said. “Some TV shows depict a woman as being mistreated or being attacked and someone comes to save her. We instead want scenes where women fight for themselves. This will send a good message to society.”

Also Read: 5 Bollywood movies that should not have been made this decade

‘VHP is quite troubled’

Even films, Pishwe claimed, project women as “objects to lust for and this needs to stop”. 

“Commercial films objectify women and this portrayal sends a wrong message to young minds. So, we need to strengthen the TV regulatory board and the censor board.”

“The VHP is quite troubled by the rising graph of crime against women in a country like India, which has always believed in worshipping its women,” Pishwe said. “The cases of rape and eve-teasing are growing unabated… Today, women of this country feel unsafe even in their own colonies (surroundings). All seers and mahatmas of this country are greatly worried on this count.”

Pishwe said a delegation from Matru Shakti will very soon meet the Censor Board. 

“We will tell the board that the obscene depiction of women in films… is quite harmful for society at large. Society seeks inspiration from the art of acting and often imitates it in some form. There should be no such portrayal in films,” she added.

“We will request the Censor Board to ban scenes where women or girls are being teased or molested. Instead, these scenes should be altered to show how women can defend themselves when faced with such conditions.”

Pishwe said they would request the government and the board “to take strict action against those involved in such filming”. 

“We will submit a memorandum to the government and say that, if it fails to act in time, we might take some strict measures on our own,” she added.

Their campaign, Pishwe said, is aimed towards “women empowerment and not their liberation”.

“We are not fighting for the cause of women’s liberation, our aim is to empower and embolden women instead. Liberation carries an undertone of waywardness that has no grace to it,” she added. “We want women to get empowered… that they are able to realise their own pride and work for the upliftment of the society as well as for themselves.”

The drive to “purge” television and films of “obscenity” is part of a wider VHP campaign on women’s safety amid rising crime. 

According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, 2018 saw 3.78 lakh cases of crime against women, including rape and domestic violence, up from 3.6 lakh in 2017 and 3.4 lakh in 2016. 

In 2018, the number of rape cases stood at 33,356, against 32,559 in 2017 and 38,947 in 2016. 

The VHP campaign will involve participation of the administration, educationists, seers, as well as social and religious organisations, with seminars in different cities. An underlying theme of the campaign will be reiterating the importance of “virtues like familial bonding and good moral values”.

Among other things, the VHP will establish outreach with parents of school students, to offer lessons on making their children more sensitive and aware towards moral values. 

The organisation also wants the government to make respect for women a part of school lessons, and the provision of self-defence classes at educational institutes.

Also Read: NCRB data shows spike in reported rape after 2012 Nirbhaya case has tapered off


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  1. What about female villains in TV serials and films? Before 20/25 years most, if not all, villains in TV serials and films were males. If VHP is going to be father and who is the mother? Or they are both!

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