The Campaign the India Censor Board Wishes Didn’t Exist

Sheryl WuDunn in India speaking about the importance of female representation in the media.

In the shadow of increasing violence against women in our public and private lives, we asked ourselves: what role does the world’s largest film industry play in shaping our attitudes and behaviors towards women? Are our lives imitating art?

Research on this topic repeatedly points to a correlation between reel-life and real-life violence.

To investigate this normalization of violence against women in our cinema, we launched the Frame Her Right campaign on International Women’s Day, challenging the India Central Board of Film Certification to overhaul its certification system. Also known as the Censor Board, this panel draws up lists of harsh words to remove from Indian movies, but turns a blind eye to the over-saturated violence against women on screen.

The campaign’s first video Uncensored, demands a more progressive rating system from the Censor Board – they’ve promised it for years – so audiences can make an informed choice about watching content that is violent or degrading to women.
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But violence against women didn’t start with the cinema, and it won’t end there, which is why we widened the scrutiny to examine the harmful stereotypes that mainstream media perpetuates through its fairytale depiction of women’s needs and desires. Frame Her Right’s next video “What do Indian women really want?”, comes up with some surprising answers.

So far, we’ve heard a wide variety of reactions that suggest popular media has an impact on our behavior. What we haven’t heard was the informed view of people who matter in this debate: academics who examine these connections, activists, critics and the film industry itself.

So we brought all these folks together into one room and asked them, “Is Indian Cinema Framing Her Right?” The event ended up generating as much heat as light. You should watch it here and decide for yourself.
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We have some exciting plans for the next few months, ranging from an online survey on gender attitudes to on-ground events across the country. Here are a few steps you can take in the next five minutes to help Frame Her Right:

 


 

Frame Her Right is made possible through support from USAID and Show of Force: Social Good. The initiative was launched in 2014 as a program of the Half the Sky Movement Global Engagement Initiative in India and Kenya, a transmedia development alliance seeking to promote gender equality which grew out of the work of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The cutting-edge initiative seeks to disseminate positive messaging and understanding of gender issues through transmedia tools on a national scale, conduct targeted outreach and educational sessions at the community level, and build the capacity of in-country partners to use innovative media effectively in their efforts.