New Delhi: In a first-of-its kind initiative, ‘Art for Freedom’ takes on the challenge to stop victim shaming and blaming. Encouraging students and artists from across cities to influence a positive change in society, the “Grand Virtual Art for Freedom Gallery’ unveils today with diverse and bold art forms including, paintings, posters, animations, videos, poems, digital art, and even a rap song in Tamil. Voices have come together in compelling stories and creative expressions, given that every hour there are four rapes reported in our country! The theme effectively captures real life stories of sexual offence, child abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence, marital rape, accounting for this heinous crime.
Endorsing the need for such a strong move, Dr Pinky Anand, Sr Advocate, Supreme Court of India commented, “It is unfortunate that multiple rapes continue to be reported every day in India and in most cases the perpetrator is known to the victim. We need to ask what encourages them? This initiative will go a long way in creating sensitivity in people to change old mindsets through art. I hope this movement keeps growing”. Supporting the view, Sr Advocate Vivek Sood, Supreme Court of India, added by saying, “this initiative is a welcome change. This is true freedom of expression and I’m glad people are being sensitized to this issue through the medium of art. This is much beyond law and courts.”
The idea culminated in a virtual event to mark the World Art Day 2021, presenting 17 shortlists of great art works! The top 6 winning entries announced by an eminent panel of jury, include:
Winner #1: Devanshi Tripathi, a 20-yr-old from Jaipur pursuing her law degree from Faculty of Law, Delhi University, for voicing out her real-life experience and capturing a powerful sentiment through her poem, ‘Bachpan’.
Winner #2: Arpit Mishra, First-year marketing student from SIBM Pune, for composing a strong message video.
Winner #3: Prerna Ramesh, a lawyer turned HR professional currently a student of SIBM Pune, for reciting a powerful poem, ‘Alone’.
Winner #4: Prashansa Gupta, first-year MBA student from SIBM Pune, for presenting a thought-provoking film highlighting women issues.
Winner #5: Vardha Anand, grade ‘X’ student from Springdales School, Delhi, and the youngest of all participants, for depicting the journey of a rape survivor and her right to justice through her expression of a painting
Reinforcing the campaign message for #DNAFightsRape–Save the Evidence, India’s ace Fashion Designer, Ashish Soni said, “This showcase was extremely interesting and refreshing. I witnessed so many different ways of expression, which dealt with the sensitive theme of changing mindsets on rape through different vehicles. I’m definitely going to take this back with me.”
Felicitating participants and winners on the occasion, Neeti Banga, Associate Professor, NIFT Delhi said, “I would like to congratulate all the participants for their stellar contributions. This will certainly help raise awareness about the importance of addressing biases that encourage sexual crime against women and inhibit reporting & scientific investigations”.
Art Director & Co-Founder St+art India Foundation, Hanif Kureshi further made his recommendations to grow the influence of art as powerful medium of change, “We saw some great entries today. Would love to see some of these converted into physical versions and kept alive in the public space, as murals and graffiti. I’m extremely happy that we have started a conversation on such a pressing issue”.
Launched as part of #DNAFightsRape–Save the Evidence citizen awareness drive, Art for Freedom seeks to unleash the power of creativity to transform the way our society deals with survivors of rape & sexual violence, thereby shifting the accountability to the perpetrator and bringing them to book with the power of forensic DNA science. This initiative has been organised by Gordon Thomas Honeywell-GA & Ogilvy India in partnership with UN Women India and Girl Up (UN Foundation), along with reputed academic institutions like National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi (NIFT) and Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune (SIMB).
Summarising key highlights and next steps, National Head PR & Influence, Ogilvy India, Arneeta Vasudeva said, “Response from the youth has been phenomenal and I have full conviction and belief in their power to realise the desired change in the mindset of our society towards survivors of rape. What’s even better, is the equal participation of men and women! This marks the beginning of the movement, and we hope to see the idea grow bigger as we work towards introducing ‘Art for freedom’ Season 2, 2022. I am extremely grateful to the jury and our partners for their involvement and encouragement, and am looking ahead to their continued support in building the momentum”.
‘Art for Freedom’ is a part of the larger #DNAFightsRape–Save the Evidence citizen awareness drive that was launched November 25th, 2019, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, in partnership with the Delhi Police, AIIMS, UN Women India, and Red FM. Its aim has been to educate people on their role in saving crucial DNA evidence in sexual offense & rape cases to strengthen India’s criminal justice system. It has today become a movement with several members of the civil society stepping forward to spread the message of “Don’t Wash, Don’t Clean. Save the Evidence”.