Published: 04th August 2021
This documentary is a powerful account of Indian women who are fighting and surviving violence against them
The documentary celebrates ordinary women who’ve shown extraordinary courage to rise above their limitations and challenge deeply entrenched gender norms
Every time Srishti Bakshi would hear about incidents of violence against women in the news, she would be furious. She would immediately vent her frustrations on social media. But, when she heard about the NH 91 rape incident in 2016, in which a mother and daughter were raped in front of their father, something changed in her. She realised that for a long time, she had been an armchair activist and it was time to actually do something about it. The journey was conceptualised that year. Srishti explains, “I wanted to change the feeling of hopelessness most people have about the situation of violence against women in India. So, I started walking from Kanyakumari to Srinagar. My sister, Apoorva Bakshi is a filmmaker and our initial plan was just to document the incidents throughout the country. During the journey, our team grew to about 32 people who were as passionate as us about the cause. We collected about 1,000 hours of footage and felt that it would be a good idea to turn it into a documentary, which was eventually titled W.O.M.B — Women Of My Billion.”
Speaking about the process, Srishti says, “I trained for it for a year because it was like a full marathon every day. I used to walk about 40 kilometres everyday. But what I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional effect it had on me. The exciting part, though, was to see how some women were refusing to tolerate this abuse and do something about it. For instance, I met the mother of a girl who was gangraped and burnt alive. That was one of my lowest points because I felt violence had won. But, the next day I met a woman who was visibly black and blue from abuse, and when I spoke to her, she said that looking at me and my work, she was determined to put an end to this abuse.”
The journey was about 3,800 kms on-foot across India from Kanyakumari to Srinagar over 240 days which she concluded in May 2018. During the journey, Srishti met hundreds of people, and conducted several workshops to sensitise people on gender-based violence and inequality. The aim of the walk was to empower women with confidence, leadership skills and digital and financial literacy so that they could stand up to abuse and be able to live independently. Srishti says that she feels privileged to have the opportunity to have conversations with all the women she came across and be able to draw strength from that.