There cannot be a better time to meet Tanushree Gangopadhyay than after watching the screening of the documentary; Redifining Peace-Women make a change. Spectators allowed free flows of tears, since it is considered to be medicinal, it lifts the burden off the heart and makes thinking straight easier.
The struggle for change cannot be won on a platter of gold and according to K.C Janu, a tribal woman from Kerala who is one of the women who fought and won and was celebrated in the documentary, she said the more she was beaten by the police with their baton, the more she wants to fight...it is strange, secondly, the documentary was rounded off with the doggedness of young Irom Sharmila Manipur , a lady from North East India who had been in indefinite fast for the last ten years in her bid to protest the Armed Force special power Act, 1958 in Manipur, India.
With high spirit and the strength of a newly initiated activist did I approached Tanushree Gangopadhyay, the coordiantor of Bangdalore chapter of Network of Women in Media, she is a petite woman, beautiful and remarkable, her presence lingers in mind long after the interview.
Her inner strength radiates on her face, she introduced herself as a journalist, human rights activist who fights for the rights of women, and lastly she described herself as a Feminist, She is a woman who had lived her entire life as someone who will never remain silent in teh face of oppression of injustice, she spoke about the beginning of feminism in India, the achievements and the challenges the during interview. With thirty years experience as a women rights activist, one can only listen as if "listening to a king who speaks like someone who has never suck his mother's breast"
Without iota of doubt as regards her accuracy and consistency in dates though she declined giving any statistics during the interview, but she recounted the experiences of women fighters and several battles women have fought against established institutions. She narrated the genesis of women agitation from the All India Women's conference that began in the early 20's, this was when women took up the issue of their rights and they have not looked back, there are women fighters scaattered all over India.
Tanu believed that because women demand and relentlessly fought for their rights, it was easy for women to demand suffrage and rights to abortion which was granted as medical termination of pregnancy act, 1972, also the rape case of Mathura also brought important uproar and women demanded custodian rape act too.
Unfortunately according to Tanu, in 1975, there was emergency during the reign of Ghandi Indira when women could not do anything, they had to go underground and movement could not thrive, but apart from this period, she said women had being active in the National struggle, in the abolition of the caste system and land right.
She recounted that there are lots of issues staring women activists in the face now, which though not limited to these ones but the prominient ones are the problem of selective female foetucide, a situation whereby pregnant women select the desired sex of the unborn baby these days , if it is a female child, she will be aborted because of the dowry that is expected to be paid by the bride's family.
She explained further that unlike other countries, it is the bride that pays the dowry to the groom's family in India. This is affecting even the upper caste too, they prefer to select male foetus to carry on their land, since most of the perpetrators are land owners, but recently, it was discovered that the upper caste lack female in order to breed pure upper caste blood, therefore they had to marry from lower caste. This is to the advantage of professional match makers known as marriage agents who are employed in India to handle marriages.
In addition, Tanu mentioned partriachy and contraception as some of the prevailing challenges faced by women in India, though there are so many challenges but they can be overcome if women will continue to demand for their rights, since there are results to show that women have fought and won some battles in India. Struggle continues, she concluded.