The Camera as a Weapon

Survivors of Domestic Violence and Abuse in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand district
take up the camera to tell their stories and also to help other women in distress.

The Camera as a Weapon

Fighting Domestic Violence and Abuse with the camera
In India, a woman’s choice of education, career and marriage are challenged and compromised by the virtue of her being a woman. Instead, she is expected to shoulder various responsibilities such as looking after household work, siblings, serve elderly persons, work on fields, so on and so forth. Unfortunately, the situation does not differ be it in an urban or rural setting.
Nisha was beaten black and blue by her husband and told to cover her face because she was “not good looking”. Her morale was destroyed to such an extent that it was difficult for her to see a world beyond her boundaries. Women like Maya whose nose was cut off by her husband in a fit of rage, or another who suffered an acid attack after turning down advances by a man in her local community, continue to live their lives even after such horrific incidences.
To advocate against such grave issues and help the victims, PPT teamed up with Vanangana and Point of View and created a first of its kind workshop for the victims of domesttic violence or as Vanangana calls them, survivors.
About Vanangana- Vanangana is a rural community based women’s right collective, located in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. The philosophy of Vanangana is combating the grave and pervasive problem of violence against women by making women an important part of village development and thus ensuring their safety as well as an influential position in the social ladder. It helps women hold on to normalcy in the fringes of society.
Cases of abuse on woman are rampant throughout India. Thousands of women are battling domestic violence, discrimination, acid attacks, sexual abuse and mental torture. Survival for these women comes at a cost of forgetting their pain and subjecting themselves openly to such conditions. Women who took part in the workshop were survivors of violence in their past and have now been working for the rehabilitation of other women in need. Anita, one of the women who were a part of the workshop, was married as a child and got so badly abused by her husband that one of leg had to be amputated. She left her violent husband and is now with the help of Vanangana, fighting for women in similar situations. Surajkali also participant of the workshop was severely abused by her husband. Now she lives a successful, independent life in Delhi.
The ideology behind the workshop was to create a platform for the women of Vanangana to come together, identify common problems, confront them through collective action, and demonstrate the impact to the entire community using photography as a medium.
More importantly, the PPT team’s goal was to make the participants more comfortable in sharing their opinions to the public and gain confidence in how they speak and present themselves.
PPT acquired sponsorship for the participants to receive donated cameras from German photographers and later in the year, Kodak provided a photo studio.
The following are the main aims of the workshop:


Provide them the tools and resources required to help them pursue photography.


Teach them to use the camera to take powerful photo which can elevate the reports and case they work on.


Acquaint them with modern technology and editing methods.


To provide platforms where they can apply the knowledge they’ve learnt and teach the same to other survivors.

Because of the continuous domestic violence that those women faced, their self confidence was nil, they gave up on their lives longs back. But the initiative by Vanangana with the help of PPT changed their lives completely. They became very confident and comfortable with their lives and the entire process was smoothly run by Sudharak. Women used to love him; they were overwhelmed to see people appreciating their work in the exhibition after the workshop and then when they got back to their lives.


Founder, Vanangana
The curriculum included: Framing, Documentary Photography, Composition, Caption writing, Case studies, Story-telling and Post Processing. Other than that, the women were given a lot of on-field experience so that they can use it while covering their cases. The workshop was also closely related to the work of Khabar Lahariya, the country’s only digital news platform which is run by women belonging to Dalit, tribal, Muslim and backward castes. The workshop encouraged the participants to use their photos for Khabar Lahariya’s reports and some of the participants even went joining the organization after the workshop.
By putting a camera in their hand and teaching them to use powerful photography for covering social issues, PPT’s goal was to aid them in their efforts of directly and immediately reporting cases of sexual violence that these women come across on a daily basis to reporters, police officers or policy makers and allowing leadership to emerge from within the organization.
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