In recent years, India has made headlines around the world with the gang rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey on December 16, 2012. However, many fail to see that sexual violence is not a new issue in India, nor globally, and many cases before and since the Pandey case have been ignored. Important questions that need to be asked and answered are why now? Why has the Jyoti Singh Pandey case received so much attention?
These are the type of questions Sunny Mangat hopes to address. After completing her BA in Psychology from Simon Fraser University, Mangat moved to London, UK in pursuit of her passion; further studies in Human Rights activism. She recently completed her Master’s degree from City University, London in International Politics & Human Rights, with a focus on sexual violence against South Asian woman in India.
“Violence against women is not restricted to the South Asian community, nor is it restricted to India. This is a global issue that needs to be addressed,” says Mangat, who plans to expand her research into sexual violence against South Asian women as a PhD candidate in 2014. “My focus on the South Asian community comes from a deep rooted passion to raise awareness within my own community and globally as a Sikh woman.”
Through her research, Mangat hopes to further understand the various dynamics that affect the individual experience of abused women. “My research stems from an intersectionality framework,” she says, and goes to explain that women are shaped by multi-faceted components such as religion, caste, class, geography and age.
According to Mangat, the interactions of these dimensions occur within systematic and institutional powers such as the state, government, media, and the political, medical or judiciary realm. Within these systems, various forms of privilege and oppression occur which often create sexism, racism, colonialism and patriarchy.
“As a feminist, activist but most importantly, as a humanist, I ask myself how do such incidents take place and what can we do to stop these grotesque human rights violations? What is the response of the community, police, medical and political community? What can we do to evoke change?” Mangat says.
Along with her extensive research, Mangat has recently launched an awareness campaign called the South Asian Women Against Violence Against Women (SAWAVAW), in hopes to put pressure on the Indian government’s stance on women. “I have been researching this topic for the last 14 months and it is also the topic of my PhD. I found that many politicians in India have made ridiculous statements,” states Mangat. “Such as PM Narinder Modi’s statement: ‘Does it suit us to make comments on such incidents, can we not be quiet?’”
This led Mangat to reach out to a group of individuals in Canada and the UK, and with their help, she created images which depict violence against women. They portray women from Nepal who are trafficked into India, Dalit women who have high rates of violence, simply because of their caste, as well as middle and upper class Hindu women. “What we are doing is taking a spin off political statements [such as Modi’s] and through images we are countering their statements.” Mangat adds that her photographer, Rupa Nagamootoo, played a pivotal role in making all this possible. “Our global community needs more talented and independent women, such as Rupa, to support one another,” she says.
On December 5th, 2014, Mangat will host an event at Crown Palace in Surrey, BC.
This black-tie event aims to increase awareness of feminism by depicting the positivity of women and women's rights through a panel discuss of high-profile community activists, a fashion show, dinner and dance. All the proceeds will go towards further research in Sexual Violence against Women in India. For further information, visit www.sawavaw.com
“We can share in breaking the silence and facilitating change,” says Mangat. “Together we hope to reach the global community and raise awareness of domestic violence, sexual violence and rape against South Asian women in India and around the world.”
Sunny Mangat, BA, MA, PhD Candidate
Call : +1-604-808-6594 (Canada)
+447763555248 (United Kingdom)
Special Thanks to:
Rupa Nagamootoo of Rupa Photography
Laura McCarthy Special Effects, Make-up Artist
Gurpal Bansal - Hair and Make-up
Nisha Sharma - Assistant
Steve Shipman – Assistant Photographer
Mandy Thompson – Digital Artist
Amee Syeda - Model