"In three generations, India has systematically targeted and annihilated more than 50 million women from its population – a number which constitutes the sum total of the populations of Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Portugal put together (Banerji, Female Genocide). In 20 years India will have methodically annihilated 20% of women from its population (Sinha K., In 20 Years). They have been eliminated through the rampant practices of female feticide, female infanticide, killing of girls under 5 years through intentional neglect, dowry murders, “honor” killings, and endangerment of women through multiple and forced female fetal abortions. Between 500,000 to 700,000 girls go “missing” in India every year, eliminated through female feticide and female infanticide. The average life expectancy of Indian women at 66 years is one of the lowest in the world.
India has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world, and one out of every 140 women in India is at risk of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth (Sinha K., India Slips). The crime of dowry related murders of young married women in India has escalated to epidemic levels. Many of these murders are staged as kitchen accidents or suicides by self-immolation. A study published in the Lancet in 2009 (Sanghavi), that collated hospital records and testimonies, estimated that as many as 136000 women are being killed by fire in India each year, that is one woman is killed every five minutes (Stephey)."
- Rita Banerjee in Why Kali Won't Rage
To start off, here are some more stats on the state of women in India:
Women are 48.5% of the general population of India.
A woman is raped every 32 minutes
A woman is sexually harassed every 12 minutes
A woman or girl is trafficked every 46 minutes
3,09,546 cases of crime against women were reported in the country during the year 2013
1 woman or minor girl was abducted every 36 minutes
21 women are murdered every day
Sexual abuse-Out of 350 school girls 63% had experienced sexual abuse at the hands of family members
This is the reality for women in what Indians proudly christen "the largest democracy in the world." To live in India, you have to be ready to battle sexism at its most violent forms. The situation is so complicated and intense here that despite largescale protests the majority of the people here still believe women to be objects of sex and that rape isn't that big a deal. We are a small anarchist art collective from the city of Calcutta, called Eye Art Collective. This is our attempt at changing the mindsets of the people, without whom, no justice or liberty for women or the LGBT community would even begin to exist in our country.
The open-minded are a tiny minority in India.
Hysteria is a feminist convention organized by Eye Art Collective to facilitate open dialogue on the definitions and objectives of feminisms, through discussions, screenings, film, art and music, and create awareness about modes of patriarchal oppression.
The aim is to develop an understanding of the kyriarchal machinery so as to combat it through generalised understandings and create tangible differences in our lives as well as the lives of others. Hopefully, in this way we can teach a group people to embrace tolerance, to question the powers that be, to express their thoughts and demands, and in turn, change the mindsets of those around them. The idea behind this is that before a revolution happens on the streets, it first has to spark in the mind.
“Women are prone to hysteria because of something fundamental in their nature, something innate, fixed or given that obviously requires interaction with environmental forces to become manifest but is still a primary and irremediable fate for the human female.”-Paul Chodoff, “Hysteria and Women”
Inherently patriarchal, the concept of hysteria as a mental illness was created to restrict independent feminine (and later feminist) spirit, and conform women to the set stereotype of domesticity and docility. Contrary to this, the word hysteria simply refers to the womb, coming from the Greek word hysterikos – hystera . The modern usage of the term refers to “exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement.”
We named the convention Hysteria to serve two purposes. The first, to obliterate the relation to this fictional “feminine” mental illness, reclaim the word from oppressive patriarchal connotations, and expose Hysteria as a desperate attempt made by the patriarchy to control and stigmatize independent spirit, and prevent the development of the feminist movement. Through reclaiming this word as feminist, we are in essence, raging against the patriarchy and no longer look upon this word as an insult, but as a pathology that speaks to and against the patriarchy.
The second, to reclaim the frenzy as something far from chaotic madness. Hysteria, to us, is the frenzy of an uprising that is a deliberate attack on the patriarchy; an attack that speaks out against gender discrimination, and gender violence, and works methodically to expose and demolish patriarchal machinery in everyday life.
More about us:
Eye is an independent art collective and webzine that is feminist, anti-establishment, queer-positive and anti-racist. Eye seeks to bring about change through artivism, and we believe that the first step to solving a social problem is its identification and awareness. If a socio-cultural revolution is to work, it must spark in the brain in order to ignite something larger than oneself.
Help us make Hysteria come to life. The project is entirely crowdfunded and we're all working for free, so we need all the help we can get, especially when it comes to funds. Do contribute what you can, share our story and/or volunteer! Every bit of support counts!
If you are a filmmaker or artist and want to help, do drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contribute, do visit our Indiegogo campaign page here.
To learn more about Hysteria, click here.