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Indian Women/Poets Speak Out Against Rape

By Harriet Staff

Mumbai-India

From the Times of India:

CHENNAI: The scent of flowers has been replaced by the acrid smell of liquor, the clear blue sky has given way to frightening darkness and a bird’s chirp by a woman’s agonised shriek.

With violence against women in the country gaining centrestage, nature, political upheavals and love – which once formed the common bond of poetic sensibility – have now been replaced by scenes depicting sexual assault.

Women poets are among those ushering in this new genre of writing. “Most poems are rooted in a powerful emotion. With visuals and details of violence against women being flashed every second on TV and debated by different groups, it is only natural that such incidents become themes in our writing,” said poet Bindya Subba from Darjeeling, who writes her pieces in Nepali. Shocked by the recent Delhi rape that made headlines, Bindya wrote a poem ‘Damini’ dedicated to the 22-yearold physiotherapy student.

“Only a woman can feel the pain of another woman. In my poem I have portrayed the physical and mental pain that the woman must have gone through when she was gang-raped, the anger and anguish the incident caused to her parents and the fear in every woman that it may happen to her,” she said.

Bindya is among a group of woman poets from across the country, who have congregated in the city for ‘Abhivyakti’, a two-day poetry reading programme conducted by Sahitya Akademi. While talking about the emergence of women poets, they observed that ‘female poetic conscience’ is a product of the multifarious socio-political backgrounds the poets hail from.

“With debates increasingly centering around violence against women, the topic has become common ground for all of us. We have become one entity, irrespective of where we come from,” said Tamizh poet Salma. Her poems are often devoid of illusionary imageries and soaring similes. “I call sex, sex. A rape, rape. People have often asked me why my language is so stark and descriptions so explicit. How else would you convey what a woman goes through? Poetry is constantly evolving and this is part of that evolution” she said.

The place where the incident happened is insignificant. Survivors of sexual assault are finding champions in parts of the country that are considered “safe”. “In Kerala, women are respected, but that doesn’t mean what happened somewhere else will have no impact on us. The first poem I wrote was on a woman’s existence and her liberation. If men should be liberated, women should be liberated as well,” said Savithri Rajeevan.

It is not just renowned woman poets who are wielding the pen to take up the cause. Following the rape incidents in Delhi and Mumbai, several social media sites were flooded with poems by novices.

“Poems are triggered by powerful emotions. You can be a greenhorn and still express the pain,” said Hindi poet Madhu Dhawan.

Read more about poetry and the recent rapes in India at Times of India.

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.