Target: Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, India’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting
Goal: Drop the ban imposed on Indian movie about sexually empowered and liberated women.
India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has censored a movie called Lipstick Under My Burkha about female sexual empowerment and liberation. The movie tells of the lives of four contemporary urban women in India, all of whom finding their way toward a more autonomous and fulfilling existence. By blocking the theatrical release of the piece, India’s CBFC sparked outrage, showing it is completely alienated from the country’s claims for freedom of expression and current debates on women’s points of view, desires, aspirations, and needs.
In the past years, Indian cinema has grown to include thoughtful and boundary-testing productions. The country has witnessed the surge of talented directors, producers, actors, and actresses who challenge dominant narratives and aim to educate people. Nonetheless, their great endeavor is sometimes in conflict with institutional guidelines requesting clean entertainment and morality. The case of Lipstick Under My Burkha is emblematic in this regard. While it has won the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival and the Spirit of Asia Prize at the Tokyo International Film Festival, Indian officials qualify the movie as a “lady oriented” story. Furthermore, officials say that the film puts “fantasy above life” and contains “sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society.”
According to the movie’s female director Alankrita Shrivastava, the Indian urban landscape is rapidly changing, so are the desires and aspirations of women. It is fundamental that such desires and aspirations are brought to the national debates and the new female points of view are considered and respected. Freedom of expression for women is a human right. Sign the petition to drop the ban imposed on this award-winning piece and support the empowerment of women everywhere.
Dear Mr. Naidu,
Your country has witnessed the surge of talented directors, producers, actors, and actresses, with invigorating and thought-provoking production. While this could be a reason for national pride, the Central Board for Film Certification in your country has recently banned one of your most awarded movies. Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha is a master piece and it is disturbing that the board has dismissed it as a “lady-oriented” plot that puts “fantasy above life.”
Women all over the world have been fighting for decades to make clear that women’s rights are human rights. Such human rights include freedom of expression and freedom to discuss their bodies, desires, needs, and aspirations without fearing objectification by patriarchal rules. I demand you to drop the ban imposed to Lipstick Under My Burkha and undertake a productive public dialogue about the importance of women and its new roles in society.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Gemjan