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MARD: Men Against Rape & Dicrimination

An Indian celebrity movement to get men to be aware and speak up against crimes against women

Photo of Mansi Parikh
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Some Indian celebrities have been getting involved in raising awareness about the fate of women and children. i was fortunate to interact with the MARD initiative started by Bollywood star Farhan Akhtar. 

The word MARD in Hindi mean Male, more significatly it is usually used to convey Maleness or Manhood. The actor has turned the word into an acronym for "Men Agaisnt Rape And Discrimination". The initiative aims to create an awareness for women's rights and issues and although it hasn't sompletely taken off yet it has been getting some amount of press and that is at least brining in some awareness to women's safety issues. It is trying to get men to invest in it by following a certain charter which promotes respect toward fellow humans, men or women. 

They have been going the route of merchandising to show support and I was fortunate enough to have made their first batch of merchandise for them. Since then they have done some awareness building through a Indian Premiere League cricket match (kind of like an EPL for cricket) where the celebrity owners of the cricket teams pledged support and awareness was created in a crowd of 50,000+ cricket fans at the stadium not to mention the millions watching on their tv sets.

Such initiatives if well directed can use a celebrity's "appeal" and create awareness among the masses who look to emulate their idols.

While I believe this initiative needs considerable direction I give them high points for at least attempting to make a difference. Hopefully they can create a big enough impact. 

The first step to attempting a solution for Women's safety issues is creating awareness and here's an organization that is trying.  

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Photo of Mansi Parikh

Hey Karolle. When I say it could use direction I mean that the goals need to be more concrete.They are currently primarily raising awareness solely through Facebook and some appearances by Farhan Akhtar but no concrete steps have been taken in terms of getting some action going. In fact initially I had offered to work with them for merchandising through my website and they agreed initially then they pulled merchandise from all their partners for some unknown reason and I still haven't heard back from them. I have been studying in Boston since last August so I'm not entirely certain what's going on but I haven't seen them do anything big. They have the star power to back it they should really go for big impact here whether it is through affecting some sort of policy changes or fundraising for specific community initiatives.

Feel free to correct me if you have seen anything different from them.

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Good points, Mansi. It's great getting people aware and talking about gender equality, but I do get weary of "awareness" as a goal. The best campaigns provide one or a few ways to take action—contribution to a specific community initiative sounds like a good idea, for starters. I still don't know much about what MARD does, but now you've gotten me curious to find out more!

Photo of Karolle Rabarison

Mansi, thanks for contributing this. I only recently heard of MARD—at the Farhan Akhtar show during Kala Ghoda Fest. You mention that the initiative could use considerable direction. Could you share more of your thoughts around this? In which areas would the org benefit most from guidance/shifts?

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great share, Mansi. It seems important to think about ways to motivate and incentives men to be part of the solution – and considering their how their aspirations might be tapped via popular culture is a great start.