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How TV Show ‘Anupamaa’ Rids Husbands Of All Responsibility And Glorifies Patriarchy

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Anupamaa, a top-ranking TV show, is not only misleading but also uplifts patriarchy. The story idea revolves around the protagonist of the story wherein she is an ideal, traditional housewife who takes care of everything and is an ideal daughter-in-law, mother and wife. A homemaker who has dedicated her life to her family but doesn’t get valued for it. Apart from being a homemaker, she’s a qualified dancer.

The plot conflict deals with her husband being in love with one of his work colleagues, named Kavya, and ending up establishing an extramarital affair. The woman cast in the role opposite to Anupamaa to play the rivalry part is shown as a well-established, employed, married, updated and more beautiful woman who consists of all the traits of a perfect, high-maintenance modern town woman. On the other hand, Anupamaa is a simple, dependent, traditional Indian beauty who carries all the cultural traditions with her.

The storyline shows the protagonist to be suffering, struggling, fighting and begging for her marital rights despite being the one who is disrespected, ill-treated and has fewer priorities than her husband. Anupamaa is shown to be making sacrifices for her husband and ends up loving him with all her soul. She is fighting and doing everything possible to get him back.

The concern arises that she is shown as chasing a man who is not worth her dignity being portrayed as a ‘Tyag ki murti (a sacrificing idol)’ and ‘Pati-Vrata nari (husband-worshipping woman)’ who battles other women for her husband.

Why does marriage only subject women to loyalty and dedication towards her husband? The entire show is uplifting patriarchy and is a question on a woman’s identity and dignity, where a man is allowed to have an extramarital affair, and that too with a married woman. But Anupamaa is not shown as someone who can stand up for her own rights or have a tough, throat-cutting fight with anyone when it’s a question on her family.

The serial not only promotes stereotyping and suppression of women, and negligence of their basic rights, but also promotes a false belief of an idealistic married woman who pleases everyone in her family by doing household chores effectively.

This show not only promotes stereotypes related to women but also strengthens them under the shadow of idealism, culture and tradition. Along with it, the show is actively creating a divide among women who work at an office and those who are homemakers. Anupamaa is a homemaker in this serial who is not able to raise her voice against the wrong happenings to her.

Her daughter doesn’t appreciate her mother because she considers her to be outdated, again creating a disrespectful and baseless perspective to be fantasised by the audience that is not only illogical but also challenges morals of Indian society and parenting efforts leading to a bend towards external beauty and a materialistic approach in life.

The antagonist of Anupamaa’s life, Kavya, is shown as a working woman, but the character association of her in the plot makes her a vamp in the show, considering the fact that adultery is legal in India. A working modern woman is shown as a taboo and wrecking woman who hunts for someone else’s husband.

This builds a negative image of working women, who could have been shown in a positive manner also. The disloyalty of Viraj, Anupamaa’s husband, is again projected on Kavya in a manner that because of Kavya, Viraj is disrespecting and underestimating Anupamaa and creating a war between the two women. This, again, could have been shown as a situation with women supporting other women.

So, a working woman is shown as a house-breaker and liable for Viraj’s deeds, making him free of any claims on him considering it was Kavya who dragged her into all this. Again, a very wrongly projected message goes out to the audience: it tells them that a woman’s character is to suspect, hate and be each other’s enemy even as men continue with their malpractices.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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