The Bengal Network raised concerns about the media’s distorted portrayal of women and their role in society.
For some time there has been a buzz about regressive content on national television and local channels. Even if these fall under the purview of entertainment, watched by millions including families with children, they show a very skewed perspectives about women and their role in society.
We at Bengal Network have discussed these from time to time. After a couple of TV channels recently aired discussions on this, and the West Bengal Governor publicly criticised these as “unhealthy” and not helping the women’s cause, we decided to draw the attention of the West Bengal State Women’s Commission to the issue. We are discussing if the matter can be raised with the heads of channels and production houses.
Clips of the serials telecast on a local channel (ABP Ananda) prove that the storyline now has gone beyond the traditional mother-in-law and daughter-in-law skirmishes to fights between women living as co-wives under the same roof.
Ram Gopal Varma’s recent tweet on women has been criticised by a veteran journalist in a leading Bengali paper, Sambad Pratidin, while commenting on the pernicious influence of these serials on society.
Our letter to the Women’s Commission was picked up by The Times of India.
To the Chairperson
West Bengal State Women’s Commission
Jalasampad Bhavan, Block DF, Sector One
Salt Lake City, Kolkata
We the members of Bengal Network comprising senior journalists working towards gender sensitivity in media are appalled by the content of Bengali daily serials. Several serials, broadcast between 6 pm and 8 pm, air regressive content of women’s role as only homemaker, but this has plummeted even lower by promoting the presence of two wives in a man’s life.
Serials such as Ei cheleta bhel bheleta, Punyi Pukur, Bene Bou, Mem Bou, Radha to name just a few and telecast over Zee, Star Jalsha and Colours are scripting stories of men marrying or being in the verge of marrying two women, one self-chosen and the other by his family. Watched by millions of women, these serials far from showing real empowerment and instead further legitimize abuse, violence and patriarchy in its worst forms. Not just paying heed to the fact that bigamy is a legal offence in the communities that are depicted in the stories, the serials signal wrong messages about family values. Notwithstanding negative comments in social media, these serials continue with their attempts to cheaply garner TRPs.
Bengal is known for its literary tradition of powerful stories of women empowerment. It is high time this depraved depiction of gender is stopped on primetime television that caters to a wide section of viewers. It affects true progress of gender equality through media and presents disturbing and distorted images through a regressive and archaic mindset.
Network of Women In Media (NWMI)
March 17, 2017