Sarfarosh: The Annual Event of the Gender Studies Cell, St. Stephen’s College

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The Gender Studies Cell, St. Stephen’s College, conducted its two-day annual event, Sarfarosh, on the 28th and 29th of March, 2016. With the tag line, “Ae be-baak bol uthein hum, qayyar nahin, sarfarosh hain hum,” the event was a fitting conclusion to the GSC’s year-long endeavour towards dispelling taboos through interactions with activists and 1scholars, unearthing lived experiences in the process.

The event was kick-started by Prof. Mary E. John, Senior Fellow and Professor, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, with her talk on ‘A Silent Revolution? Gendered Intersectionalities in the University today.’ With statistics to back her arguments, Prof. John voiced the question of whether the numbers claiming higher rates of education for women today can be considered a silent revolution. The talk provided insights into the intersection of gender with other axes of discrimination and disadvantage. The instance of administrative responses to cases of harassment was used to highlight the vulnerability of young students, compounded by these intersectionalities. Her ideas provoked thought on the significance of economic policies in dealing with gender problems, for only 15% of women in India are currently engaged in paid work.

The lecture was followed by ‘Navigating Love and Sexuality,’ a workshop by Avani Parekh, founder of LoveDoctor, a platform for help and questions on sex, relationships and abuse, from experts. The interactive session brought to the fore ideas on love and sexuality from the students themselves, in an engaging manner.

The final day of the annual event began with a panel discussion on ‘Praxis Makes Perfect? Theory, Practice and Activism.’ Moderated by Ms. Urni Ganguly, the panel comprised Shambhawi Vikram, Subhashini Shriya, Gourab Ghosh and Dhiren Borisa. The panelists discussed the movements they are associated with, or have organised in their individual capacities, such as Pinjra Tod, Come See the Blood on My Skirt, Kiss of Love and Dhanak. The problems faced in the organisation of such campaigns, and their significance and impact was addressed. The discussion was followed by ‘Sonder,’ an inter-college spoken word event which saw the active participation of members of Parivartan, the Gender Forum at KMC.

“Sarfarosh is a culmination of the GSC’s efforts through the year-of discussing politics of the everyday, of working towards more accessible vocabularies of feminist and queer theory, of destablilising received knowledge-through workshops, poetry discussions etc. The biggest joy is seeing how members of the audience react to these spaces of discussion, truly recognising the transformative power of talking,” said Rene Sharanya Verma, President, Gender Studies Cell.

Abhinaya Harigovind

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[email protected] ; 'A self-confessed workaholic, I run on endless cups of coffee, last-minute panic, and the smell of fresh print on paper. Student of History at St.Stephen's College, but home and heart lie in Bangalore. Like Holden says, "I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot."'

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