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Indian students at Harvard go topless to give out a powerful message

A woman, that too in India, has a hard time, right from the moment she is in her mother’s womb. She has to fight to be born, and once she’s born, she has to fight for the love of her parents from her male siblings – if any; she has to fight for the right to education; she has to fight for the right for a job; she has to fight for equal pay; she has to fend off unwanted and sometimes unwarranted attention from some of her lecherous colleagues of male persuasion; she has to fight for her right to walk down a street and not be ogled and/or leered at as is she’s naked, even though she’s appropriately dressed, and finally, when she comes home from all the crap the world throws at her, she has to fight for equality with her husband too, who wants not a partner, but ‘a very successful, intelligent, smart but subservient wife who does his bidding and takes care of him and their home, and their kids when they have them’. Whoa! Just writing this has me sweating bullets!

The objectification of women, overt sexualization of women, be they everyday ladies or movie stars/celebrities, degradation of women, crimes against them from one end of the spectrum – eve-teasing, leering, passing lewd remarks, ogling, to the other extreme – rape and even worse, gang rapes, concerns every individual, be it a man or a woman, especially in current times when the incidence of all of the above are on the rise, sometimes even blatantly. In an effort to put a stop to such skewed thinking, Indian students of the class of 2015 at Harvard, have started a campaign called emBODYindia. Under this campaign, a series of photographs have been uploaded on tumblr, with the message ‘A woman’s body is her own.’

The photographs show many students holding posters with different messages on them. While some men and women have chosen to go topless for the photos, some are dressed in casual clothes, all of them with a different message on how women should be treated. In a blog post on their home page, there is even a post on the latest media blunder by TOI, when they posted a video of actress Deepika Padukone, with a lewd and insensitive caption about her cleavage. And when the actress lashed out, instead of apologizing for their mistake, TOI chose to defend their reprehensible actions, even going so far as to compare their brazen objectification with Shahrukh Khan’s 8-pack abs. Read the whole story here.

The students have also invited all and sundry to join the movement, by taking your own photos and sending them to their facebook page, so that they could be shared with the hashtag #embodyindia. Together, they want to make a difference. At present, emBODYindia is comprised of sixteen students and the Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana.

The following are the pictures posted by the Indian students at Harvard:

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Image credit: emBODYindia


Chaitra Ramalingegowda

Chaitra Ramalingegowda

I fell in love with storytelling long before I knew what it was. Love well written stories, writing with passion, baking lip-smacking-finger-licking chocolate cakes, engaging movies, and home-cooked food. A true work-in-progress and a believer in the idiom 'all those who wander are not lost'. Twitter: @ChaitraRlg