introducing bombaebs: the activists rapping against rape in india
India is suffering from a rape epidemic, but these girls want to make a difference.
In India, a woman gets raped every twenty minutes. That's roughly the equivalent of three women being sexually assaulted in the same amount of time it takes you to wolf down a Pret sandwich and do whatever else it is you do on your hour-long lunch-break. But according to the nation's dominant mind-set, that's no biggie, those women are young and in their prime, they were probably asking for it, too. But what about the murdered student Jyoti Singh? Was she asking to be gang raped so forcefully on the back of a bus that her bowls fell out? Or what about the 71-year-old nun who was gang raped during a robbery last week? Where was her raunchy mini skirt, seductress attitude, or whatever else it is that supposedly makes the women of India to blame for their own rape?
Unsurprisingly, there is a vast amount of Indians who see no problem with women being raped, beaten, and killed (otherwise why else would there be such an epidemic?). But thankfully, there is also a growing number of people who think it's time for India, whose government made headlines the other day for banning the BBC documentary India's Daughter from national TV, to answer for its atrocities, and here to make sure they do is "rap duo" Pankhuri Awasthi and Uppekha Jain, the Mumbai-born actresses-turned-activists who came together last week to record #RapAgainstRape, a three minute video that has now gone viral, in which the girls make a passionate plea to end violence against women in India. Introducing BomBaebs: the twenty-something girls who are standing up for what they believe in and speaking out in order to make the world a better place. If only there were more like them.
What is BomBaebs and how did you come up with the name?
BomBaebs is the name of our YouTube channel, which was created to provide intelligent and engaging content for the world's youth. We both live in Mumbai (Bombay) - hence the play on the word Bombay - and we added a sprinkle of urban culture by throwing in the term "bae", which stands for best friend/beloved.
What made you want to write this rap?
We believe that every citizen's responsibility is to give back to society and help its progress in some way. We are both artists and this was our artistic expression.
Who is it directed at?
The youth. They are the future of any nation - and to affect change it's important to speak to them in a way that resonates - hence the rap! It has universal and audible appeal and is tackling an issue that most people don't rap about!
Why did you choose music through which to express your cause?
Music unites everyone and has the most impact on any culture with its universal appeal. We chose rap/music to express our ideas in a non-preachy but catchy and memorable manner.
What do you hope to achieve with it?
We had hoped our rap would spark debate, discussions and would get people more comfortable when talking about problems women face in our country. We had further hoped to inspire more people to openly address the stigmas and eventually bring about a positive change. Each person should do their part!
How do you feel about online campaigns? Are they a waste of time in that all you get is a 'like' or do you think they actually work?
Any step towards change is progress. What our video has done is bring immediate notice to various problems that have been looming over our society for quite a while and made it acceptable for people to speak about it openly.
There are a lot of powerful lyrics in your rap, in particular the line: Stop that tweet and actually get up on your feet. Can you explain this line in a bit more detail?
As a social media obsessed culture we're often tweeting/posting about what we ate, or what some celebrity wore etc. So instead of only tweeting about those things - why not actually get up on your feet and take some real-time action? We did and we hope others will as well!
What message do you want to get across?
The modern Indian woman will no longer stay silent about the atrocities and hypocrisies they face in our society, nor will they be told what to do. Instead, we will rise up and tackle these age-old issues head on and fearlessly.
Is your message specifically for Indian women or does it relate to women all over the world?
With the overwhelming international response this video has received, it is evident that the message has resonated with women and men across the globe, and clearly addresses issues that women face the world over.
How should India change the mindset that women are objects and, more shockingly, that women - from their attitude to how they dress -are to blame for rape?
This mindset is universal and not just unique to India - as you can garner from the pop culture lyrics and videos that blatantly objectify women. Nationally broadcasted panel discussions in the UK recently also questioned the mindset that women are to be blamed for rape in their country. This mindset will change as more women begin to speak up against injustices and be more assertive about how they wish to be treated. No permanent change will come from one side alone, men need to be a part of this movement as well, by supporting and endorsing those doing so.
Do you personally experience sexism on a daily basis?
Not on a daily basis - but every so often, sexism rears its ugly head.
You've received quite a bit of criticism online, from rape threats to being called 'Indian sluts' who are just in it for attention - how do you feel about this?
These comments prove our point!! These are the misogynistic men who need the most help - they should really absorb our lyrics and introspect…. But alas - their archaic mentality will prevent them from understanding what we are saying! However, people from across the world have come to our defense and have done their bit to try and drill some sense into these extremists. As the saying goes: the truth hurts… and when something hurts, people often react with anger. That's fine… anger will eventually force change!
What do you stand for?
We stand for FREEDOM - of expression, speech and being whom and whatever we wish to be!
Text Tish Weinstock