Breaking the Silence (2014)

Ishani K Dutta | India | 2014 | 31 mins


Breaking the Silence Synopsis

Breaking the Silence is about the right of women in India to a safe and respectful workplace – which we understand is a basic right for any human being to survive. The film, inspired by a case of rights abuse of someone she knew personally, is inspired by a barrage of disturbing questions about the status of working women in India.

The ethos of the film stems out of the realization that most working women in India are stuck in a vortex of helplessness when it comes to instances and threats of sexual abuse in India – further intensified by the reality that many men fear that their jobs are being taken away by women, which takes a twisted turn into cases of verbal and physical abuse that signify a battle between sexes. Matters are further convoluted by the lack of initiative by the authority – which, again, is male dominated.

The premise of the film is a stark reality that most cases of sexual harassment are more about power than sex. Men who feel threatened often seek to undermine women because they consider that to be their birthright. Some men, generally jovial, talk in double meaning sentences.

Others take a more direct and abusive approach – threatening not just the woman but her family and friends. Yet others physically abuse women – which might not always be directed towards an intention to rape. The number of working women is on the constant rise, and the voices of protest are also getting stronger.

The film ends with a note of hope – that the process of reversal has begun. Women are asking questions they never asked before. Maybe it’s now just a matter of coming together.

About the Filmmaker

Ishani K Dutta has over 25 years of experience in television media, starting her career in the early 1990s with Zee TV, the first ever satellite channel in India. After dabbling for a decade with news and current affairs programming, Ishani decided to start her own communication unit, including both publications and films.

Soon afterwards she found her forte – research and direction of films that involve in-depth research and connecting with people. Environmental and social issues since then have been her agenda in life, and Carrot is her brainchild that fulfils her aspirations of meeting the challenges of an evolving world of communications.

She is the Chief Producer and the single point quality controller of all Carrot Films. Many of her documentaries, primarily on environmental, social and developmental issues, have featured in numerous national and international festivals, including the National Panorama of IFFI.

More from the Filmmaker

I believe that the world is full of stories; good, bad and ugly. And especially, when it comes to women, my entire surroundings always give me a strong feeling of affirmation that I really needed to do something about what is happening to women around me and beyond.

This feeling became stronger after a very personal incident that shook me to my core. A very dear colleague of mine was sexually harassed in her workplace and when things came out of the closet, I found out that not only was she verbally harassed, she was on the verge of getting physically abused too, had she remained in the place for any longer.

After this incident, I started extensively studying and researching about women being harassed in their workplaces through which I came to know about women in the transport sector, a sector which has been predominantly male, but which has started included working women recently. I spoke to a lot of women in this sector and I came to know that no woman that I had spoken to, was spared from this horrible phenomenon.

Every woman, at some point in their professional clock, was abused, stared at and called out on. I cannot explain the kind of emotion I went through after listening to their stories. I, myself am a woman; how can I not be affected by such shameful actions of my own society? This is when I firmly decided to go through and delve into the matter with my own strengths.

I am a person of stories and storytelling, and I could not have expressed myself through any other medium but a documentary, a first-hand account of the women speaking and coming out of the closet to break their silence.

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