As part of the Tongues of Fire season, "The Nehru Centre" in Mayfair was the venue to one of the starkest and most realistic Asian domestic violence exhibitions one would encounter. With the endorsement of top female celebrities such as Nandita Das (of the "Fire" movie fame) who are coming together to support a cause that affects many of us in some way or the other, "Behind Closed Doors" brings to light real issues faced by even the most modern of Asian women, today.
The exhibition was created with the talents of brilliant, outspoken, female Asian photographer, Poulomi Desai and organised by Barnados, as part of the Phoenix Project in Bolton. It explored the harrowing ordeals of many Asian women, who have spent their lives miserable, hurt and injured and told the stories of some of them, in form of a series of pictures and a short film, encapsulating the realities of the situation and hoping to draw out those Asian Ladies who are suffering in silence.
Educating people on where to turn to was one of the main aims of the gallery and question and answer session, and as with the National campaign on domestic violence, bring out the people in the minorities, particularly the Asians (whilst domestic violence sees no boundaries of race and colour, Asian Women over time have been in the pool of targets, over the generations) amongst us to talk about their ordeals and how they have come out of these situations, going on to lead productive lives, without the stigmas of society attached to them.
Domestic violence, which includes verbal abuse, physical abuse, incest, and so much more, is a very real issue. Many Asian Women, who are well educated and will set up in life, tend to build up a mental dependence on the Husband they marry or the In-Laws they are bound to or in many cases, the closed-minded Asian societies they have to live in, hence stopping themselves from getting themselves or even their children away from potentially dangerous home situations. This is a real incentive to change the situations of so many beautiful and successful women, who put their lives on hold to keep the people around them happy.
Of many of the hard-hitting images portrayed, the mannequin of the woman in bridal attire, who had hanged herself, was one of those, which sent a chill through one's spine. The sadness of the situation is that many women choose to take their lives, instead of finding the strength to confront the issue or even try to get away from the abuser/s in question and make new lives for themselves. The photographic images were in the realm of caged birds, cigarette burns on the bodies of these beautiful women and one particularly disturbing one, of a woman not able to get away, with the wording "if I can't have you, no one else can" - showing the mentality of abusive men, if particular, who in spite of the distress they cause these ladies, will try and make their lives hell if they get away.
These are some of the issues that the Asian society faces today, where all the good things are high-lighted in the media, but as the aptly entitled exhibition, `behind closed doors', a lot of painful abuse is going on, which is left un-touched.
Let us all hope that more and more women come out of these situations and go on to lead lives they deserve, filled with love and happiness.