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In the shadow of acid attack

An acid attack is the worst kind of crime anyone can commit. There should be severe punishment for the perpetrator and a ban should be enforced on the availability of acid! Acid victims not only suffer physical trauma – also the mental trauma is devastating! Those close to the victim also put up with unimaginable pain and suffering to see their loved ones going through such misery. Some of these victims lose their sight and others succumb to their injuries. An acid attack is the most abominable crime.

Living life with the fear of being attacked is like living with your breast to a knife. This knife is constantly hanging in your mind, butchering your confidence every day, wherever you may be. I have experienced life like this and my confidence suffered terribly as a result of the laming fear.
Being a teenager in a small town was not easy then. And when my parents warned me about these acid attacks that just take place without any rhyme or reason, it truly made me fear for my life – it was like a psychosis taking over my mind. The backgrounds to these attacks are all about jealousy or revenge for turning down a date or marriage proposal!

My school was very close to where I lived. It was the best convent in town. My friends would pick me up every day from my home and we would walk to school together – nevertheless I constantly feared becoming the victim of an acid attack. This fear continued to live in me like a burning fire, threatening to destroy me. There were days when I had imagined how my face had been turned into a disfigured, melted shape. I tried to take all necessary precautions like forever checking if someone was following me. Over the years, I developed a fear, which would never actually come true. Perhaps because as I got older my parents asked two people to accompany me to and from school, like body guards! In the beginning, I had been able to walk to school with my friends and gradually my freedom was taken away from me to ensure my safety and I was always driven the short distance to my school premises.

It was not only me who lived under this constant fear. Many of my friends would discuss the consequences of this crime and would try to avoid any situations that might happen to lead to something like this occurring.
More than 20 years have passed since then, but acid attacks still instill fear in my mind. Acid is so cheaply available. You can buy it everywhere today, despite the fact that, had it been outlawed, it would have saved the lives of so many women!

Today was another such day on which I met a few of these victims. Such brave girls and women, who have left me so inspired. They remind me that life is about standing up to any difficult situation, facing the truth and finding the best way to improve what may seem like a hopeless situation. I recounted my fear of being attacked to these women and they astounded me with their perfect smiles, confidence and incredible courage; fearlessly challenging life to live full lives despite what they had experienced.

Fear is just a thought that can gradually fade away from one’s mind, but a molten or disintegrated face is a constant reminder of what can be stopped today for a better future tomorrow. Attacking someone with acid is the most inhumane act anyone can ever do to anyone and I strongly feel that this evil action should be eliminated from the minds of every individual. This can only happen by creating awareness and correcting the education of young people.

Changing role of women in advertising

With the world views divided on the latest BBC Nirbhaya documentary issue and the Women’s day just gone by we thought of talking about the changing face of women in Indian advertising. If we carefully look at the current portrayal of women then there are many interesting examples where brands not only empower women but have made their branding around creating a strong identity for them. For example: In the latest ad of Airtel film “Boss” the lady is shown as independent with complete professional attitude.  This is quite a big change from what was shown in the past. Even second marriage is shown in a very positive light by the jewellery brand Tanishq. Here re-marriage is set as the backdrop for its contemporary range of wedding jewellery. The new sea change is marked with the fact that more and more women are joining the work force and are independent enough to take their own decision. Earlier women of the 80s were portrayed just doing household chores or just adding glamour to ad. The role of women in India has seen the change over the years with more and more women joining the workforce and becoming independent decision makers which is quite a contrast to her role even in the society. From the sacrificing homemaker who would have done it all for the betterment of her family is now the guilt free happy mom doing multiple roles. Now, her forte includes more independence and decision making.

Even in the latest ad of Prestige where we have celebrity couple Abhishek and Aishwarya are shown enjoying cooking. The best portrayal of women has been by brand Havells which started the ‘Respect for women’ series.’  Also, the detergent ad of Nirma shows three women pushing a vehicle an ambulance stuck in a ditch. All these ads are creating a different space in the advertising space where a non-traditional role of women has gained a momentum. Most importantly, even society is welcoming the positive imagery of women where they are relating more to the real women of substance rather than just the glitter doll role. The latest Horlicks campaign titled ‘Love you ma’ shows mothers in traditional avatars but being a source of constant support to their independent daughters in various professions like police officer, sports star etc and a little daughter holding hands of her mother in supporting her in return. It is a beautifully shot film which shows the new era woman in altogether a different light.

The same Indian woman who was once upon a time shown as submissive housewife is now shown as confident, independent and makes her own choice. No longer will you see the stereotypical roles of women in the ads. Now a new momentum has gained precedence in the last few years, which breaks the old imagery of women being in the backdrop or shown as an eye candy. While big brands are doing their bit, smaller brands are also creating milestones: Fiberfitness shows the most beautiful gift given by a son to his mother and father, of being healthy for life by joining health club. Here, again, the mother is given most importance. While women employees add up to 30% of work force in the software industry, there are instances where still few brands showcase women mostly as homemaker or just glamed up. But the percentage to which the role of women has changed over the recent years is quite an eye opener. Usually portrayal of women are in essentially in three categories –traditional, neutral and nontraditional. 

The traditional category comprises of the following roles: mother, daughter, homemaker and decorative.

The neutral category comprises of: others

While non-traditional comprises of: professional, girlfriend, women superior to men or to equal to men

Non-traditional roles are on the rise were you see the Indian women no longer a part of the kitchen, but have taken centre stage to be the protagonists of many leading brand stories.

Reference: Marketing white book 2015