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Tisca Chopra Says When She Joined The Industry, It Was Very Misogynistic. Women Were Second-Grade Citizens

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In theory, human rights are the most basic and fundamental rights that an individual on account of being a human being. These rights aren’t just meant to be the bare minimum but also obligatory to ensure that the interests of all individuals is safeguarded. All except for women, because apparently they don’t fall into the category of being human as they are often denied such rights and how. A matter of concern that was recently picked up by actress and activist Tisca Chopra at a podcast.

Talking about the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ Right to Life, Tisca Chopra spoke about women and the lack of the human rights extended to them. She shared her views on how badly the rights of women in India are trampled upon.

She said, “In India the rights of women are so badly trampled upon, taking away the right to, not just life, but life with dignity. It’s not just that you exist, but it’s the quality of that existence. I think we need to address this issue with education and I feel the right to dignity should be taught to children at junior school or even middle school. It should be spoken about frequently, called into parent-teacher meetings, once the pandemic is over, obviously, but these are things that should be discussed openly and widely.”

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She went on to elaborate her point and talked about the right to dignity at her workplace as well. She said, “When I came to Bombay I felt the film industry was very misogynistic – women were second-grade citizens seen through the male gaze as objects. When I started writing and producing, the first film I made, Chutney, was very rebellious because I felt the earning capacity of an actress being sexually attractive was said to be the only chip that she was bargaining with. I, as an act of rebellion, chose to make the protagonist in Chutney almost borderline ugly. She speaks badly. She doesn’t have an education. She doesn’t have a child to give her any status in society.”

She further said, “The fact that it became the most-watched short film in the world with 132 million views proved that what we’ve been telling people – that girls need to be all about the body and the way they look, is taking away the dignity of an artist.”

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Touching base also on the #MeToo movement as an important milestone post which a lot of things changed for women in the industry and workplace, she said, “One thing that is wonderful, post the #MeToo movement, is every single production office that one goes to has the POSH guidelines laid out – Prevention of Sexual Harassment, bold and clear. And that’s to me, a huge, huge relief, because starting out the film industry was a despicable place for women to work in, in every way. Physical dignity, personal dignity, harassment of all sorts. So, these are areas where I feel the work that people like you (United for Human Rights) and the United Nations have been doing in education has come such a long way, because it’s acting as a massive deterrent and things are so much better on set now.”

She concluded her speech by saying that even though there is a lot of work left to do to achieve that gender parity, she believes in empowering women and sharing their stories to bring that change. She said, “I believe in getting better and having more power to be able to assert myself and say – these are the kind of stories I want to tell. And to do it so well that they sell. So that you buy your freedom by creating the kind of work, which stands head and shoulders above the rest of the work, or at least at par. So then gender ceases to be a thing.”

Here’s hoping she, and like her the several thousand women trying to fight for women rights every day succeed in their vision of bringing about a world where gender bias doesn’t exist.

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