Swayam launches a campaign on the many faces of domestic violence

We normally hear that ‘home is the safest place for women’. But is it?

One in three women in India face domestic violence. Every day, 27 women are killed/dead due to Domestic Violence. Each year, thousands of women are murdered or forced to commit suicide in our country, by their husband and his relatives – If we take the year 2019,  almost 10,000 (9963) women were killed or forced to commit suicide. The same year, almost 31% (30.9%) of all crimes against women were committed in their homes, by their husband or his relatives. However, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg. They do not include deaths that are couched as suicides, accidental deaths, honour killings, and unnatural deaths.

Domestic Violence is highly underreported crime due to the shame and stigma attached to it. Although Domestic Violence is recognised as a crime and there are both criminal and civil laws to address domestic violence, it is still largely condoned and accepted by society.

Most people associate Domestic Violence with violence against women in their marital homes. However, women face domestic violence both in their parental and marital homes mostly by men who are their fathers, brothers, uncles, sons, husbands or intimate partners. Further, whilst most of us identify domestic violence with physical abuse, domestic violence is much more than that and takes many forms- emotional, economic, and sexual.

Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes so subtle that women cannot identify what is happening to them as violence.

COVID-19 resulted in a sharp increase in DV with abusers and women locked in together 24×7 and many of these forms of violence came to the fore, particularly mental, economic and sexual violence apart from physical abuse. This campaign focuses on these subtle forms of abuse that are most often not recognised as domestic violence, committed both in marital and parental homes, where there is no apparent physical manifestation, but they take a severe toll on women’s mental and physical health.

It aims to help women recognise the different forms of abuse they face and urges them to take action whilst at the same time creating awareness amongst society that domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse but includes mental, emotional, economic, and sexual abuse.

The campaign was launched with 3 short 25 second films in Hindi and English addressing these forms of domestic violence.

Swayam partnered with Ogilvy India to create and conceptualise the films, and Shoojit Sircar’s Rising Sun films have executed the films and Mansi Kadne has Directed the films.

The films were released by Sohini Sengupta, renowned theatre, film & television personality.

Shoojit Sircar and Mansi Kadne represented Rising Sun Films and Piyush Pandey, Chairman of Global Creative & Executive Chairman, Ogilvy India was there, representing Ogilvy.

Survivors of Domestic Violence also Spoke Out! 

Anuradha Kapoor, Director of Swayam said, “Most people identify domestic violence with physical abuse, but domestic violence takes many other forms- emotional, economic, and sexual. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes so subtle that women cannot identify what is happening to them as violence.  Through this campaign we wish to highlight these subtle and overlooked forms of violence that women face both in their parental and marital homes. These forms of violence impact women’s physical and mental health severely – women often say that wounds and scars heal, but the wounds to the heart and the mind stay forever and are far more debilitating. Our campaign also aims to reach out to women to help them recognise these forms of violence and seek help, whilst at the same time creating awareness among the larger society.”

Piyush Pandey, Chairman Global Creative & Executive Chairman, Ogilvy India emphasised the point that attitude changes are easier than behaviour changes when he said, “It requires constant effort for a long time to bring about behavioural changes. The films highlight the menace of domestic violence and provoke men to question their own behaviour. These are subtle forms of violence that violate women’s right to life.”

Shoojit Sircar, Rising Sun Films said that he has made films on social issues and that “Mann ke Manjeere” was his first film related to domestic violence. He said that domestic violence is a menace and that many aspects of domestic violence are often overlooked. He stated that sometimes he feels ashamed that such behavior of men degrades the dignity and respect of women. More work needs to be done on this critical issue.

Mansi Kadne, Rising Sun Films shared that she was thinking of portraying domestic violence as physical violence with bruises and cuts on women but after reading the script she was blown away. The films made her realise that violence can be subtle too and that she heard of these subtle forms of violence in her friend’s circle as well.  She felt that Swayam providing voice to the voiceless through these films.

Sohini Sengupta award winning theatre, film and television personality added, “These films were very powerful. Women need to be respected. Men trying to control the expenses of women or not letting them handle cash is a very subtle form of domestic violence which men need to realise and understand, because they think they are protecting women by earning and not letting women deal with finances. Men say that they are protecting women by solely handling financial matters and not letting them to go to the bank. In reality however, they are controlling women’s economic freedom.”

Jacintha Allen (survivor of domestic violence whom Swayam has supported) shared that she could relate with the films very strongly as she was also never appreciated by her husband and received no respect from him. She shared an incident where her husband threw the food at her which made her feel humiliated and hurt her deeply. He forced her to give up her job, never shared the responsibility of the household work and did not let her grow. Even after she was diagnosed with brain tumour, she didn’t receive any care or support from her husband which finally made her take the decision to leave her husband. She gave a powerful message to all women saying “women don’t harm yourself, just walk away from all the negativities.

Rukhshana Rahaman (survivor of domestic violence whom Swayam has supported) faced immense physical and mental violence from her husband and was under immense mental stress and trauma due to the violence. When her husband chased her with a knife to kill her and threatened to take her to Delhi and sell her off, she told herself that she would not accept the violence anymore and hasn’t looked back since. She is now taking care of her disabled child and herself all on her own.

Gargee De’s (survivor of domestic violence whom Swayam has supported) husband used to control her finances and shame her by saying that she did not understand how to handle the finances. After she got a job, she was forced to balance her work and home and the shaming continued. When she sought support from her parents and the police she was asked to adjust. The police said that a husband wife relationship is like the wheels of a chariot, sometimes up sometimes down, and she should learn to stay together and adjust! Swayam was the only place that provided her support and helped her build the confidence to fight back.

Agency: Team Ogilvy (Kolkata)
Client: Swayam<

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