Vogue India Launches Powerful Anti-Domestic Violence Campaign

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Domestic violence has been a huge topic in the US recently especially in relation to the NFL after a number of recent incidents were played out in the media where prominent football stars were charged with domestic abuse. But just to be clear, domestic violence is not just a football issue, it is a worldwide epidemic that will take a lot of educating and understanding for statistics to decrease.

Domestic violence affects both women and men, but statistically it is women and children who are the majority of victims. It is not just a woman’s problem, it is a human problem. Domestic violence is not black and white, and more often than not, there are many questions which go unanswered or are brushed aside in favor of media hype and attention, especially when there is a celebrity or star athlete involved.

Vogue India is taking a stand for its country and have launched the Vogue Empower campaign for its 7th anniversary which aims to tackle domestic violence and promote female empowerment. There has been far too much news coming out of India over the past couple of years where women are brutally attacked, raped, hung, murdered, had acid thrown on them, and treated in a less-than-equal manner.

Vogue have teamed up with some prominent Bollywood names, including actress Madhuri Dixit, and director Vinil Mathew to create a series of short films with the message that it “starts with boys”. Why this phrase? Alex Kuruvilla, managing director of Conde Nast India said it was inspired by a recent speech actress Susan Sarandon gave at the Goa Film Festival where she said “If you want to make a difference you have to start with the boys” in reference to the spate of domestic violence reports in the country.

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Vogue India took that and ran with it as the crux of their message. They have also stepped it up one level for their readers with the statement “it starts with you” on their cover to encourage readers that they can be powerful agents of change.

“The idea of the film is centered around the fundamental truth that women’s empowerment is not about women alone, which is why I pledged to create a short film that communicates clearly the need to change the mindset of boys before they become men,” Kuruvilla said in the video.

The fashion magazine wants to take the lead in showing the Indian community how vital this message is for men to hear.

“Domestic violence is an issue that needs to be spoken about not only because it is an obvious, heinous act of a man overpowering over a woman but because so few have the courage to stand up against their partners. When we teach young boys at an early age to not do something ‘like a girl’– the distinction that what a girl does is insignificant is imprinted in the young boy’s mind. Growing up, when these boys don’t see eye to eye with their partners they feel the need to enforce their views through aggression.” it says on the website.

The film aims to teach boys to respect women and treat them as equals. The first video titled ‘Boys don’t Cry’ basically says we teach boys that it is not “manly” to cry and force them to be tough, instead we should be teaching them not to make girls cry.

Vogue Empower is a month-long campaign in the magazine which will see other Indian filmmakers, stars and videos being produced in line with the messages they are trying to create around the female empowerment theme.

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Another video sees actress Alia Butt driving home late at night, fearing for her safety after her car breaks down and she is approached by a car full of men. It is a scene that is eerily similar to the real life incident of the Delhi girl who was gang raped on a bus in 2012 by a group of men. That film is called ‘Going Home’ and can be seen below.

“The whole idea is to engage with Vogue’s circle of influencers and thought leaders to become our pledge-makers, our agents of change,” said the Vogue India editor Priya Tanna. “We want them to mobilise people to think, talk and act in ways that highlight and draw attention to women’s empowerment.”

The magazine’s campaign will feature interviews with Gloria Steinem, Arianna Huffington, tennis ace Maria Sharapova and other films including the touching ‘Notes To My Son’ which shows a series of prominent Indian women sharing their thoughts on how they will encourage boys to empower the women in their lives. The campaign isn’t just about star power. They will feature stories from real life women who have overcome major obstacles to live a fulfilled life.

Vogue India’s campaign is a powerful reminder that people from all walks of life can work together, both men and women, to change something that is inherently wrong in the world. Domestic violence is only one issue there are many other messages waiting to be spoken, all you have to do is raise your voice. Like the Vogue Empower campaign states, it starts with you.

Watch the short videos below to see how the Indian fashion and entertainment industry is taking a stand against the atrocities women are facing in the country:

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