Farhan Akhtar Starts ‘MARD’ (Men Against Rape and Discrimination)


The word ‘Mard’ in Hindi means ‘man’. Actor Farhan Akhtar along with Bling and JWT Digital has created an upheaval in the world of social media by launching a campaign against rape and discrimination called Men Against Rape and Discrimination or MARD.  The social campaign aims to create awareness amongst men (especially youth) about the importance of gender equality and respect towards women.

Author RESET , 05.09.13

The Birth of MARD

In August 2012, Pallavi Purkayastha, a Mumbai-based lawyer and employee of Akhtar’s production house was raped and later brutally killed in her apartment. A watchman is accused of the crime. Completely shocked and disturbed by this incident, the actor launched the campaign in March this year.

Timing is everything: why campaigns like this count now more than ever

Following the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23 year old woman in New Delhi last December, violence towards women has been shoved directly into the forefront of public consciousness. According to crime records, a woman is raped in India every 22 minutes. Many have highlighted the need for a shift in mentality about perception of women and that effective tools of combatting violence against women could be education and awareness programs aimed at males, which emphasise respect and gender equality.

From a Twitter campaign to IPL T20 matches: #MARD Trending!

Farhan initially launched the campaign using social media as the primary platform of spreading his message. The 39-year-old star’s initiative has been trending on Twitter since its beginning and, within no time, much of Bollywood has come out in support of Mard and its cause. Actors like Shahrukh Khan and Priti Zinta helped in spreading the word via Indian Premier League’s (IPL) T20 matches while other stars like  Priyanka ChopraSonam Kapoor and Shabana Azmi have been passionately re-tweeting his tweets.

Recently, with the support of Hrithik Roshan and Arjun Rampal, the cause has gone viral on social media platforms and has reached a wider audience. With more than 103,000 likes on Facebook and 4,100 plus followers on Twitter, Mard has proved to be a dynamic platform to spread the word about gender inequality and rising rape cases in the country.

Some trending tweets

  • “Change is inevitable. Be part of it. Spread the awareness of what it means to be a real #MARD.”
  • “Treat her as an equal! Treat her like you would like yourself to be treated. #MARD
  • “You are a real #MARD when you treat your daughter & son as equals.”
  • “You are a real #MARD when women feel safe in your company or your presence.”
  •  “You are a real #MARD if you respect her choice to say No.”
  • “A woman brought you into this world. You have no right to disrespect one. #MARD

Farhan’s poem and future vision

What is this country that I live in?
With no equality
And the quality of life
Differs from husband to wife
Boy to girl, brother to sister
Hey Mister, are you the same?
Contributing to the national shame
Replacing your mothers
With the bent ideology of another’s
perception that women have a particular role in society
Fills my heart with anxiety
Where is all of this going?
What will emerge from these seeds that we’re sowing?
It makes my head spin
But I’m not giving in
Will keep asking the question
What is this country that I live in?

What is this country that I live in?
That takes away her right to love
Brutalises her with an iron glove
Rapes her without fear
of there being justice for her tear
We’ve demeaned our goddesses
Gone back on all our promises
Become a gender distorted nation
Given our conscience a permanent vacation
what do I tell my daughter?
That she’s growing up to be lamb for the slaughter
we’ve got to make a change
Reboot, reformat, rearrange,
and never give in
no matter how much our head may spin
Just keep asking the question
What is this country that I live in?

Recently, Akhtar has been campaigning to include MARD’s objectives and his poem in curriculum for school students. In an interview, Akhtar stated that he wanted to bring the campaign to educational institutions, such as schools and colleges, “to drive home the message that women need to be respected.”

So, will you be the Catalyst for Change?

I personally believe breaking the concept of stereotypes will be a milestone achievement. A stereotype is a fixed, predefined idea that many people link to a particular type of person which is often hyperbolic in reality. So what if she’s not your mother, wife, sister or a friend! Aren’t you responsible to safeguard her rights, dignity and freedom? Real men are not the ones who simply accept the happenings; they are the ones who step beyond such labels. They are the ones who care and treat humans as HUMANS regardless of gender!

Though such campaigns are strong, sound initiatives that help mobilise people and uproot the long-prevailing social stigma related to women, they also highlight our collective shame’ for the individuals who are ultimately responsible for such shameful actions and discriminations.

Pledge to Be a Change!

Change begins when you stand up for yourself. Change begins when you stand up against what’s wrong. Be the catalyst for change!

Join Farhan Akhtar’s movement on Facebook or Twitter.

Author: Subodh Jain/ RESET editorial

One Billion Rising looking to bring an end to violence against women

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