Community Media/MARAA/Gender Theatre

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Fearless Karnataka Campaign

Right wing fundamentalist group, Sri Ram Sene, attacked women in a pub in Mangalore on 24th of January 2009. Less than a month later, on Feb 17th, a woman was attacked in Bangalore. In a span of ten days, 7 women were attacked, i.e. kicked, punched, stripped, humiliated in public spaces in Bangalore, while passers by did nothing more than watch. No one knows who these attackers are, and scarily, the violence continues even to date, as I write this on the 30th of March 09! As a response, a collective of organizations formed an independent non funded collective called Fearless Karnataka, to address the issue of violence and intolerance. Initially, forced to respond to the violence in Bangalore, Fearless Karnataka has used this opportunity to look at deeper structural forms of violence, both against men and women. For example, Fearless Karnataka could be a good window to talk about violence against domestic workers, sex workers, sexual minorities, dalits and so on.

As a part of this rather spontaneous yet well organized campaign, Maraa played a role in terms of organizing street theatre, discussions with organizations who wanted to engage with violence against women, making posters, helping conduct public opinion polls etc. This page on Wikieducator was written in the hope that organizations who want to run campaigns in the future, can benefit from our experience, on how a media collective like ours became a part of a campaign, still running strong today.

To get in touch with the collective, please mail us: info at maraa dot in

=== Maraa Videos ==-

These are some video clips showing our work, i.e. street plays, sensitizing Bangalore's public on the issue of violence against women.

Maraa’s involvement

Gender, gender roles, gender interactions and understanding overt and underlying themes of violence has been one of the things maraa has wanted to understand better. We have been discussing for sometime now, to utilize theatre as a neutral and dialoging tool in understanding gender inputs and learning, that children undergo. School milieu, medium of home, peer interactions and media interfaces were postulated usual suspects of source/s.

While we were still trying to document our individual experiences in facilitating theatre workshops in young school and non-school groups, and talking to others involved in exploring media and gender (through theatre or otherwise), fear and gender in public spaces project landed around us. While documenting the process and the artists’ work here, many levels of gender roles in public spaces surfaced and deepened through dialogue and experimentation in public space. A certain understanding was arrived at through observation and exchange amongst all involved: Maraa, the artists, and students. That perception of fear in public spaces was relative and had components of perceived and experienced (and thus ‘real’).

Then, the Mangalore incident happened. Clearly targeted at a certain segment of society, the pub attacks on women in Mangalore (carried out by factions of the right wing) sent a jolt through the nation. The attacks particularly, impacted directly the perceived security of middle class chunk of civil society. And then, the fear element directly percolated to Bangalore/Bengaluru’s public spaces; attacks began on groups and (primarily) lone women transiting or occupying public spheres.

As a response, some of Bangalore’s organizations and concerned individuals formed a collective, calling it fearless Karnataka. Maraa felt the need to be involved too.

Questions

How would maraa, the media collective respond to the violence? What was its understanding and role within the larger collective?

Does campaign response involve creative use of media? How could maraa contribute from within the campaign towards an evolving understanding of effective design?

What elements of (general and current practice/s of) campaign design need fresh input?

What older forms require revival?

How does one utilize media toold to generate campaign purpose and awareness, increase appropriate response and pursue, sustain and support ensuing dialogue?

Media tools used

Maraa’s three part involvement

  • Producing apolitical, generic, awareness generating radio capsules and pursuing mainstream radio media channels to disseminate
  • Utilize the medium of street theatre to communicate directly with occupant/s of public spaces (categorized as onlookers, perpetrators and victims due to events)
  • Involve visual art and artists to redefine visual and textual elements for campaigns. Use posters as an effective medium that marks and remains in physical public domain.

We hoped to use some reaffirmed and revised paradigms from our just-then concluded public spaces documentation exercise. However, the urgency of action and the need to act in reactionary mode didn’t allow us to fully assess and evaluate operatives.

Written by Deepak Srinivasan, from Maraa

(image:comment.gif: Work in progress)

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