In 2016, I made a journey alone to shoot a documentary on Women and Religion in India. An attempt to understand and capture how the current day practices of different religions affect women’s rights in India.
In a diverse country like India, one thread that runs through the heart of the entire nation and could be found in the very spirit of its people is ‘Religion’.
There are no uncertainties about the enormous impact that religion holds in defining the norms, rules and laws of our land. These norms set by the religious texts and their multiple interpretations by leaders of different religious sects lead to the inferior position of women at the levels of the society as well as the family. Since, the leaders of these religious sects are generally men, patriarchy works in the context of religion. To counter the gender discrimination, these roles and definitions have been repeatedly challenged, adjusted, broken and evolved by women and men. In these changing times it is imperative to understand, how the current day practices of the most significant institutions in India, affect the position and rights of its women.
“In the present India, how do different religions view women? Are religions inherently patriarchal or have the interpretations of the religious texts skewed the scale against women and girls?” I think these questions need to be answered and through my journey, I tried to do the same.
I independently shot this documentary for nine months in 14 states (Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, New Delhi, Meghalaya, Assam, Maharashtra and Haryana) across India. I have met and interviewed women of all the major religions in these states (Hinduism, Islam,Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism). I have also interviewed religious leaders, scholars, lawyers and activists for this documentary. Some of the issues that I have covered include discriminatory practices in these religions; Uniform Civil Code; Menstruation and Purity; impact of growing religious fundamentalism on women’s rights; women as religious leaders; and women’s entry in religious places.
Currently, I am working on the edit of the documentary and I plan to release it by the end of October 2017.