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New Delhi: women and violence in the picture

08-05-2005 Feature

Art students in New Delhi were recently given the opportunity of producing work on the theme "Women, violence and international humanitarian law". Their offerings were displayed at an exhibition co-sponsored by the New Delhi College of Art, the Swiss government and the ICRC. The ICRC's Devendra Tak reports.

 
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There is a striking image of a pillow, harshly crushed under a chair on which lies a military helmet. In another picture, a woman with a stoic expression looks blankly at an empty chair next to her while a camera quietly captures the emptiness in her life.

In yet another image, a woman, blindfold with a half-chewed apple balanced on her head, looks serenely at what might be guns pointed at her.

These and almost a hundred other striking images produced by students from the New Delhi College of Art were in response to a challenge laid down by the ICRC on the theme of'Women, Violence and International Humanitarian Law'.

Charuvi Agrawal is one of the two first prize winners. She stands proudly beside her painting and explains that the model depicted is a likeness of her. She says: " The invasive nature of war has been depicted in my painting in the form of its effect on a woman.

" The painting shows the proceedings of a normal family photo shoot but nobody knows where her husband is. The woman remains fixed to her chair. She is a prisoner of circumstances, of family responsibilities and financial constraints that have predestined her to this uncertain life overshadowed by violence. "

Vincent Nicod, head of the ICRC's regional delegation, says: " We believe that international humanitarian law and human rights law are adequate to cover the needs of protection of women affected by all types of violence. But in order to work, these laws must be applied. Painting the message in colours of fire is another way – unusual but effective – of getting the message across. "

 Right, from top to bottom:  

Painting by Charuvi Agrawal, winner of 1st prize

Painting by Prateek Sagar: War crushes a woman's life

Painting by Vikrant: Helpless victims