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Sari Activism

A four-day exhibition in the city questions the idea that assaults on women are provoked by the way they dress.

March 25, 2014 12:15:46 am
Nine saris with anti-rape messages created by women from Dharavi will be part of an exhibition at Artisans’ Gallery. Nine saris with anti-rape messages created by women from Dharavi will be part of an exhibition at Artisans’ Gallery.

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Every time a rape makes headlines in the media, the discourse that follows often revolves around how the victim may have asked for it by dressing up provocatively or stepping out late in the night. Ten women from Dharavi question this notion with an exhibition of up-cycled saris that bear slogans against rape, and other crimes against women. These saris will be a part of an upcoming exhibition titled “Provoke/Protect” at the Artisans’ Gallery in Colaba.

The concept of the exhibition was developed during a workshop — held in February last year — organised by city-based NGO SNEHA when women from the community wanted to express their anger against the Delhi gang rape case of December 2012 . The saris are colourful collages made of various materials put together with the help of textile artistes — Nika Feldman from the US and Susie Vickery from Australia.

Slogans such as “Lock up the rapist, not the woman”, “Stop rape”, “Keep out” and “Don’t touch me” were then embroidered on old saris. Various symbols have been used to convey these messages. For instance, on one of the saris, wrought iron keys have been stitched on the fabric, making a strong statement that women should not be locked in because of the fear of getting raped or assaulted.

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As part of the exhibition, to be held from March 26 to March 29, nine of these saris will be on display at the gallery. The saris will also be exhibited during Dharavi Biennale, a festival that fuses art, health and recycling, to be held next year.

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