By Flavia Fascendini Publisher: APCNews Pergamino,Published on
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Point of View is a Mumbai-based non-profit organisation that brings the perspectives of women into community, social, cultural and public domains through media, art and culture. They work across five programme areas, on groundbreaking topics: Fighting For Headspace (to place the broad concept of gender in the public domain), Pushing The Boundaries (to put forward the realities of women in sex work as they see them), Speaking In Tongues (to highlight marginalised issues of gender, sexuality and rights), Defending Our Bodies (to enable women to speak out about and prevent domestic violence), and Changing The Lens (to build the capacities of grassroots women to express themselves through media platforms). Besides becoming a formal member of the network, they are currently partnering with APC on the project Building EROTICS Networks in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. APCNews interviewed Bishakha Datta, the co-founder and executive director of Point of View, to know more about their motivations to become members and their expectations.
APCNews: You have been involved with APC projects for a long time, but why did Point of View decide to apply to become an APC member?
Bishakha Datta: Because we’re kindred spirits – we care about the same things. There are very few other organisations that work at the cusp of three sets of rights – digital, gender, sexual – like APC. And care about all three. We also work on this triangle of rights. So it seemed like a match made on the perfect app!
APCNews: Your partnership with APC began with the EROTICS network years ago. Was this something that encouraged you to become a member?
BD: Of course! I’d personally heard of APC even before we started working together on the EROTICS network and I was curious. It was only after working on EROTICS India for two-three years that all of us at Point of View realised what a deep and strong relationship we had with APC. Becoming a member was an obvious next step. The question was not if we would become a member, but when.
APCNews: What would you say is the most outstanding quality of the APC network?
BD: Diversity and strong politics. I looked at the map of APC members and we are from all over the global South. We come at the same set of issues through different lenses, or perspectives, but we share a political understanding. We don’t see technological choices as neutral, but rooted in, arising from and enmeshed with eco-political structures. There’s lots of folks working on technology these days, but not always with a political understanding. APC members have the politics. And then, of course, there’s the outstanding annual APC network party. Been to three and counting.
APCNews: What will Point of View bring to the network? In other words, what would you define as the added value that PoV will offer to the network?
BD: We’re turning 20 this year – and we’ve worked on gender and sexuality since we were born. We’ve worked on sex workers’ rights for many years and are now consistently working with women with disabilities, who are inevitably seen on the opposite side of the sexuality spectrum from sex workers (not sexual —-> too sexual). We bring a very solid understanding of gender and sexual rights based on our work with women at the margins. Women for whom stigma, discrimination and invisibility are almost as routine as having a cup of tea. And for whom stigma is not only due to gender, but also tangled with sexuality.
And we bring two decades of working with different media and art forms, information and communication technologies. Of grappling with issues of voice, silencing, censorship (especially related to sexuality) almost from the day we were born… issues that we now face in digital spaces.
APCNews: How do you expect this membership to impact on your local work in general, and specifically on sexual rights, disabilities, and freedom of expression?
BD: Learn, collaborate, challenge, be challenged, open our eyes to what we never saw before, shift our gaze, look through new lenses – we’re expecting this embarrassment of riches to come our way via this membership.
APCNews: Any message you would like to share with the network and APC community?
BD: I always feel inspired by this quote from the anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Keep rocking!