(NEWS) Vanangna activists from Chitrakoot Learning Photography, Computers in Mumbai

(NEWS) Vanangna activists from Chitrakoot Learning Photography, Computers in Mumbai

Documenting atrocities against women of the region, they are here to learn photography, computers and carry on the ‘fight’

Mumbai, July 06: In a noisy third floor apartment in the eastern suburb of Tilak Nagar, four activists from Chitrakoot have been labouring over the complicated application of Adobe Photoshop as they catalogue, through photographs, the brutality against 18 women in the hilly Uttar Pradesh district.

Eighteen lives, frozen in frame—intertwined because of violence, yet distinct in their individual struggles. All of them were rescued by the NGO Vanagana—it works on women’s rights and empowerment and deals with domestic violence, dowry and sexual harassment.

For the last six days, Sudharak Olwe, Creative Director, Photography Promotion Trust, and Indian Express Photo Editor Neeraj Priyadarshi have been tutoring Maheshwari (39), Nagina (36), Surajkali (32) and Radheshyam (32) about the nuances of the art, in addition to familiarising them with a computer.

“Earlier we didn’t know how to hold a camera. We would sometimes cut off the subject’s head,” laughs Surajkali, who is part of the seven-member photography team of Vanagana.

On their 30-hour train journey from Manikpur, their foremost worry was if they would be able to switch on a computer—forget using software. But after a week in Mumbai, they have the confidence to turn on the desktop, download, save images and print them.

Dealing with sensitive issues on a daily basis, “it is essential we document every case well,” says the chirpy Nagina. There is a gruesome picture of Maya. “Her husband cut off her nose with a pair of scissors as he suspected her of having an affair with someone,” she murmurs. Another of Meena, whose husband threw acid on her face in a fit of rage. And Girja, who was burnt by in laws.

Also, the three women have their own demons to tackle… of family pressure, abuse. And that’s where they draw their strength from. Nagina, who now stays in a nuclear family, had to deal with oppressive in-laws— her first three children were girls. Her in-laws ruled out birth control until she delivered their heir.

Determined to educate herself, Surajkali had to take her 12-day-old baby along with her to the exam centre. She has finished high school and is now mulling studying further since finances are somewhat streamlined. Maheshwari split from her husband after two months of marriage. She doesn’t want to talk about it.

And juggling home chores, family and children with activism hasn’t been easy, especially in “feudalistic” Chitrakoot.

“These women themselves go to courts, police stations to make complaints. To document their cases, we taught them photography—so that whatever little evidence they have won’t get destroyed,” says Sudharak.


Courtesy: IndianExpress Group (www.ExpressIndia.com)


Madhavi Kukreja is taking the lowest rung in Uttar Pradesh’s feudal system—lower-caste, Dalit women—and turning them into respected and influential “instruments of development” for the entire village. Madhvi’s key insight is using the promise of development to force the higher castes, especially men, to acknowledge and respect these women, thereby completely changing the power dynamics in UP’s patriarchal society.

NGO Name : Vanangana
Year Est. : 1994
Contact : Madhavi Kuckreja
Address : Dwarika Puri Colony, Karvi
District - Chitrakoot
Uttar Pradesh. 210205
Email : vanangana[at]rediffmail.com
Phone : +91-05198-236985 

Courtesy: http://ashoka.org