Monday, 25 May 2015

Film screening of the award-winning 'Candles in the Wind'

(India 2014 52 min)

South Asia Solidarity Group and the Decolonising our Minds society invite you to a film screening of 'Candles in the Wind' followed by Q&A with the directors Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl

Thursday 28th May at 18:30–21:00

Room V111, SOAS, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, WC1X

Punjab is known globally as the success-story of India's Green Revolution. Popular cinema from Bollywood keeps this carefully cultivated image alive. This image is a mirage.

Behind the smokescreen of an idyllic Punjab, there is real smoke, from the smouldering pyres of the farmers who are driven to suicide by the debt burden due to high costs of seeds, fertilisers and pesticides set by the almighty corporations in collusion with the State.

With suicides of men spiralling, women are left to bear the burden of their debt, and the responsibilities of taking care of children, ageing parents and the carcinogenic chemically damaged fields.

'Candles in the Wind' witnesses the silent determination of these women to survive and struggle against the politics of domination. The film provides a unique insight into the effects of neoliberal globalisation on rural India and the socioeconomic flux which has accompanied it.

Awards: Special Mention, 61st National Film Awards / India; John Abraham National Film Award for Best Documentary / SiGNS Film Festival / Kerala / 2014; Special Mention / IDSFFK / Trivandrum / 2014; Official Selection: Indian Panorama-2014, IFFI-Goa.

Watch the trailer for Candles in the Wind:

Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl are independent filmmakers and media trainers.
They received the National Award for Best Investigative Film at the National Film Awards (2011), for the film ‘Cotton for my shroud’. It was screened as ‘Headline Film’ at the World Investigative Film Week at London in 2013.

Almost two decades into filmmaking, they work in the genres of documentary and poetry films. Their oeuvre spans the domains of ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights.

Their most recent film ‘I cannot give you my Forest’ has been awarded the ‘Rajat Kamal’ for the Best Film in Environment, including Agriculture at the National Film Awards (For 2014).

Scrap the trivialising and racist posters on Child Sexual Exploitation

We the undersigned would like to express our concern and dismay about a poster on the crucially important subject of child sexual exploitation which has been produced and is being circulated by the police-led National Working Group on Child Sexual Exploitation
The poster uses the face of a white child with a black/brown hand over her mouth and by doing so trivialises and diverts attention from the reality of child sexual exploitation and at the same time plays into racist stereotypes.
  • It suggests that perpetrators are Black or Asian and victims are white. In fact, as numerous cases (like those of powerful politicians like Cyril Smith, media personalities like Jimmy Savile, or of white men acting in gangs to exploit large numbers of young girls and women) have shown, perpetrators come from all racial groups. The majority are family members of the child or friends of her/his family.
  • Like the perpetrators, the children facing Child Sexual Exploitation are also from all racial backgrounds and as agencies working with young Asian women have pointed out, often the sexual exploitation of Black and Asian children is ignored because of lack services and other reasons.

The people responsible for the posters

There have been a number of complaints about the poster from different parts of the country but it has not been withdrawn. Instead, the response from the National Working Group for Child Sexual Exploitation has been to justify it. A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that the images were taken from the library of the National Working Group (NWG) on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) (the leading UK network of more than 2500 practitioners who disseminate information to professionals working on the issue of CSE and trafficking) and shockingly that the same images have been used on other similar campaigns nationally.

As Chair of the partnership Child Sexual Exploitation group, Assistant Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, Ivan Balhatchet takes full responsibility for the posters and  Northamptonshire Police and the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children’s Board (NSCB), 'do not regard them as discriminating against any group in society'.

Bina Parmar, a Child Sexual Exploitation Specialist Team Member at NWG, who works closely with the Children’s Minister’s team and national organisations such as the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Barnardos and the Children's Society and was involved in the selection of the images for the NWG claims that "The hand in the image is in fact a white man’s hand, caught in a shadow, and in the print process it does look darker on some visuals.” This argument is dangerous and misleading, because if a hand looks dark in a poster it is seen as the hand of a Black or Asian person. No one walking past such a poster would stop and think: "Is this really a white hand looking Asian or Black..?", and this makes the poster blatantly racist.

In fact, the white supremacist English Defence League (EDL) have, since the Child Sexual Exploitation poster campaign was launched, developed very similar images specifically designed to inflame racial tension.

The poster must be withdrawn! 

This petition has been endorsed by the following representatives of local and national organisations which combat violence against women and girls:
Amrit Wilson (Freedom Without Fear Platform)
Zlakha Ahmed (Apna Haq, Rotherham)
Anjona Roy (Dostiyo, Northampton)
Sarah Green (End Violence Against Women Coalition)
Sumanta Roy (Imkaan)
Baljit Banga (Newham Asian Women's Project)
Katie Russell (Rape Crisis England and Wales)
Hilary Fisher (Women's Aid)
Vivienne Hayes (Women's Resource Centre)

Please endorse it too by signing the petition