Community Correspondents

Rebeka Parvin

Rebeka was expected to marry a Muslim man, it would not have mattered whether or not he was an appropriate match, but a Muslim man was all her extended family wished for her. But she went ahead and did what she desired, got married to a widower 12 years older to her, a practising Hindu, and to top it all, he had an eight-year-old kid. And certainly there was no pomp and show ceremony to please the society, it was a simple marriage registered in court. Seven years into the bond, she bears no child and that may be a problem for people in society but not for her. “I just simply laugh it off when they call me a baaj,” says Rebeka. Baaj is an Indian term used to refer to a barren woman.

Born in Palta village, West Bengal, Rebeka was brought up in a family where she believes she enjoyed more liberty compared to what most girls around her had. She rode her bicycle in the heat, plucked mangoes from the neighbourhood trees, and partook in all those activities supposedly suitable only for boys. But this does not mean that her childhood was spared the stigma and stereotypical roles that is expected out of girls and women.

“I was aware of the differential treatment even within my family. I remember a heated argument between my mother and my younger sister when we were kids. My brother left his plate after lunch and went off to play outdoors, that’s when my mother asked my sister to pick it up for him and bring it to the kitchen, and my sister refused to do so, asking my mother why she does not say a word to him? Because he is a boy? That was the day when I started observing these little things that gets so entrenched”, she says.

It was in 2015 that Rebeka became a part of the VV family. Experiencing differential gender-based treatment since childhood, Rebeka was well versed with the issue and had been working to challenge it. Practicing theatre during her undergraduate days, she believes that the platform liberated her, as plays became the medium to reflect on society. Her theatre work mostly focused on education, and then videos became her next venture.

Rebeka is committed to dismantling patriarchy and bringing a psycho-social change by educating people about gender-based atrocities through the medium of videos. She has been engaging with people in various districts and cities across Bengal-- Uttar 24 Parganas, Barrackpore, Barasat, Belgudia, and is present at their beck and call whenever the need arises.

Her work has not only made her more confident but also improved her communication skills, she says. Her warm approach has made her the best go-to person for the people in her community, who find it easy to confide in her.

A statement in the Hadith Sharif, an Islamic text, which commands a woman to have intercourse with a man as and when he desires, irked Rebeka. She believes that a woman’s body is her own and marriage is not a license to sex; besides, any sort of intimacy should involve both partners’ consent.

Rebeka has recently made a video on people’s views and understanding of the Triple Talaq Bill which protects the rights of Muslim women upon marriage but outlawing the practice of instant divorce. She next aims to dig deeper into the matter of marital rape, unmasking the patriarchal values behind the sanctity of marriage that leaves women with no legal or societal support to turn to.

Rebeka is also a part of Video Volunteers' campaign #KhelBadal to dismantle patriarchy. The campaign takes on patriarchy through stories of women and men who face, negotiate and challenge patriarchy in everyday life — at home, at work, at school, in cultural and public spaces. Under the campaign, she makes films that capture the nuances of routine, normalised gender discrimination, stories of change and runs Gender Discussion Clubs where lively, introspective conversations around gender equality and patriarchy happen.

Videos from Rebeka

A Contentious Triple Talaq Bill

/ July 16, 2018

The triple talaq bill, waiting for the Rajya Sabha's approval, has left people debating about whether it will actually protect Muslim women's rights.

No Cards

When Traditional Art Forms Become the Key to Poverty Eradication

/ December 25, 2017

Banglanatak is showing the world how folk art forms can revivify communities and sustain them.

No Cards

Usha: A New Beginning for Sex Workers

/ November 15, 2017

A co-operative bank run for and by sex workers is changing lives across West Bengal.

Different Beats: Being a Female Tabla Player

/ November 29, 2016

Mithu Tikadar is a Dalit and professional female tabla player who is breaking norms in a male-dominated field despite facing discrimination – even by her own family.

80 families of Kolkata suburb make do with two toilets

/ May 14, 2016

According to the UN, sanitation – access to, and use of, excreta and wastewater facilities and services such as clean toilets is a basic human right. However, the Bhagabati Chatterjee street, Belgharia, a suburb of Kolkata has just two toilets that are used by more than eighty families of the...

20 families fear for their lives

/ December 28, 2015

Every day, 20 Dalit families face the fear of either being bitten by snakes, scorpions and other poisonous creature as there is no boundary wall guarding the Panna Jheel (pond), on the banks of which they reside. The problem worsens during the monsoon. The community has approached various representatives from...