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Women are treated as second class citizens in cinema: Study



women-are-treated-as-second-class-citizens-in-cinema-study

By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, June 7: A study on ‘Representation of Women and Girls in Nepal’s Cinema’ by Plan International Nepal under its social campaign ‘Girls Get Equal’ has revealed that the traditionalist role of women in Nepali films perpetuate harmful stereotypes that prevent girls and young women from fulfilling their true potential.
The research conducted by Docskool, a film campaign working with cinema in South Asia, analysed 47 films, television, online materials and visual advertisements emphasising on films’ content, filmmakers, and Nepali cinema’s audiences.
For the research, film professionals and film representatives were interviewed. Similarly, focus group discussions were conducted with girls and young women from Province 1 (Sunsari), Bagmati Province (Sindhuli, Kathmandu), Lumbini Province (Banke) and Karnali Province (Jumla).
The research’s report showed that women and girls are rarely presented as leaders, and even when they are in leadership positions, they are far more likely than men to be sexually objectified.
“Films have a huge impact on all of us, especially young minds, in explicit as well as understated ways. They influence our biases, our assumptions and contribute to either reinforcing or breaking popular stereotypes. Therefore, we are glad that the research initiated by young professionals is an important step to influence and challenge gender-based social norms by breaking the stereotypes that directly impact lives of girls and women in our society,” said Prasen Khati, Influencing, Communications and Campaign Director for Plan International Nepal.
In the report, authors mention that they found majority of women were projected as girlfriend/wives, mothers and they relied on men to make their decisions. Moreover, their decisions were either questioned, and their legitimacy was undermined through a prominent male presence in the films.
Abhi Manyu Dixit, co-writer of the research paper, said, “Women are always treated as a second class in Nepal’s cinema. They are either shown working at home, or as a sexual companion. There may have been discussions about representations like these, but very little change is seen”.
Out of 102 women characters analysed, only five women characters were shown to have a mission beyond romance. Likewise, most of the films intended to normalise violence against women. Out of 345 characters only eight represented LGBTIQ+; most were there for comic purpose.
The report was launched during a 4-day virtual edutainment programme ‘LET’S SHE-NEMA’ that was organised by Gauthali Entertainment.
During the launching event, filmmaker and critic Manoj Pandit said, “Nepali Cinema’s very foundation is based on the belief that tears sell. We write sob stories because we know that brings money”. He emphasised the need for a larger social change that’s not limited to cinema.
Nevertheless, authorities assured that they were determined to take steps in empowering roles of women in films.
“The Film Development Board will support filmmakers who are selected at international competition and film festivals. It is aware that there is much to be done in the area of women in film,” said Chirnajibi Guragain, international relations officer at the Film Development Board.