Nandita Das is a film actress and director, renowned for her performances in movies that raise pertinent questions about social issues. Fire, Earth, Bawandar and Before The Rains are some of her movies that put spotlight on the position of women in Indian society.
Ms. Das has been awarded the ‘Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by the Government of France and is the first Indian to be inducted into their International Women's Forum's Hall of Fame for her contributions in the field of arts.
Ms. Das has been a strong female voice in the primarily male dominated world of Indian movies. She has not only portrayed fiery, strong individualistic characters fighting against stifling social norms in films like Fire and Earth but has also depicted the plight of a sexually abused dalit woman victimized by a rigid patriarchal society in the movie Bawandar.
Ms. Das has been a strong advocate for the rights and dignity of women. She has been working as a celebrity advocate for UNICEF and is actively involved in our initiatives to raise voice against the issue of sexual violence against women and children in India.
Ms. Das lent her voice to series of discussions organized by UNICEF in partnership woth avarious agencies to draw the attention of various stakeholders to the plight of women and children in India.
She has brought to attention the need for identifying and addressing the root causes of violence and the social norms that allow it to perpetuate and has exhorted all sections of society – police, NGOs, Government, media and citizens – to join hands for a safer, healthier and a more compassionate society.
India has seen a spurt in rape cases by a staggering 336 per cent in the last decade. The United Nations is collaborating with the Government and the people of India to take urgent collective action against the scale and the extent of violence against women in the country, where nearly a third of the victims are minors.
Talking about sexual violence against women, Ms. Das said, “Violence and sexual exploitation of women are inseparable and have their roots in the age old systems of caste hierarchy and patriarchy. It is very important to focus on the significance of having a compassionate society where every person takes the onus of responsibility and has zero tolerance for crimes against women and children, and where people are ready to break out of cliques to stand up for human rights. I am committed to work towards that.”
The continued efforts of voices like Ms. Das are helping many women to raise their voice against sexual violence. More and more women are choosing to report sexual crimes rather than silently going through their plight, as was the case some years ago.
There is also a gradual realization at the highest levels of administration that policing alone cannot make a city safe. Other institutions like judiciary and media as well as public service providers, such as, transport and PWD officials also need to be sensitized for creating a safe environment for women and children in the country.