In February 2015, Embaixada Cultural visited the center Jana Sanskriti as part of research evaluation project “Developing Critical Understanding on Patriarchy and Child Trafficking in Schools and Community through Theater” sponsored by the Prince Claus Fund. Through interviews and participant observations, the research was conducted in Kolkata and Purulia, in Eastern India.
Jana Sanskriti is the largest Theater of the Oppressed group in the world. The term was coined by the Brazilian writer and politician Augusto Boal and the underling idea is the usage of theater as an interactive method where the audience becomes the actor and tries to resolve a conflict assimilated in the theater script. The Jana Sanskrit group uses Boal’s method to raise awareness, educate and stimulate critical understanding on family patriarchy and child trafficking.
The project involves high school students from 14 to 18 years from the Purulia district which together with the Jana Sanskriti group are working on theater plays as educational mean of raising awareness and combating child trafficking and suppressive patriarchy in the region. The issue of child and women trafficking, as well as patriarchic oppression of women in the family circle is strongly present in West Bengal. These two issues are among the greatest violations of human rights which deprive women from the dignity and safety. Thus, the aim of the project is to challenge the social norms and empower women.
The results of the research evaluation projects concluded a profound impact on cultural and social development in the region. Through the Theater of the Oppressed techniques, people go beyond enjoying the art, they understand their reality. Theater is not a problem-solving tool, but intellectual stimulus. It shows that every person is a reasonable human being, he has humanity in him, but patriarchy is what has dehumanized him. Because the region is very small and the number of habitants is not very big, impact will be made more easily and more vividly. In relation to women’s empowerment, young girls are starting to act and this is already a revolutionary change. In relation to child trafficking, this phenomenon happens because parents and young girls don’t know how to prevent it. Usually the ‘trafficker’ offers a very expensive dowry for the girl, or he seduces her via messages on social media or text messages, etc, so when the community is informed about the ways in which traffickers lie to the community, they will be able to recognize the situations and prevent the tragic end.
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