You must have come across the cartoon by Swathi Vadlamudi wherein she significantly and tellingly illustrates, by using the mythical figures of Ram and Sita, issues of abduction, rape and the blatant patronage by ‘nationalists’ towards the perpetrators of these crimes. Graphic satires are a powerful medium to resist, narrate and destabilize authority, especially when it comes to resisting a rape-epidemic sort of situation.

On 16th April, the Network of Women in the Media released a statement in support of Swathi Vadlamudi – a senior journalist based in Hyderabad who has an FIR lodged against her as well as Ahmad Shabbir of Times Now for sharing her tweet.

The FIR has been filed under Section 295 (a) of the IPC (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) by Hindu Sangathan – an appendage of the ultra Hindu right-wing group on 14th April. She posted the image on her Facebook page and it resonated with a lot of people, getting more than five thousand shares.

But the irony that we live in today is that criticizing rapes and abduction will lead to more rape and death threats by the toxic masculinity of the Hindu Brigade. The cartoon was made in the wake of the right-wing outfit called Hindu Ekta Manch demanding the release of the main accused, Deepak Khajuria, in the Kathua case. She has drawn many cartoons but what has caught the attention of the case is the usage of the mythical figures of Rama and Sita.

These were the abusive/hate/threatening/menacing/sickening/patronising comments and messages I have received on FB for…

Posted by Swathi Vadlamudi on Friday, April 13, 2018

Swathi is trying to highlight the terrible crisis that the country is going through when rapists are being ‘defended’ by authority figures. She is making us think of how the distance between fact and fiction has blurred, with the use of mythological figures.

Also Read: Why Is Asifa Bano Not Allowed To Be ‘India’s Daughter’?

What is “outrageous” about this post then is not the portrayal of the figures of Ram and Sita in a “derogatory” manner but the reality that she is trying to picture through this piece. What is outrageous is not Sita’s ‘choice’ of her abduction at the hands of Ravan than the sanghis of Ram, but Asifa’s brutal abduction and gangrape. What is outrageous is not Sita’s agency of her desires, but Asifa’s name trending on porn sites!

This piece is also a reflection of the anger and torment that women are facing all over India. The angst of Sita then is a metaphor for the countless women whose bodies are violated and raped on an everyday basis. Why can’t we use the image of Sita to illustrate this feeling of rage? Why are only a few bhakts the sole custodians of our mythologies?

Swathi Vadlamudi is not the only person against whom an FIR has been filed, there have been many other cartoonists who were sent behind bars for “hurting public sentiment” – the arrest of G Bala by the Tamil Nadu Government is a recent case. It is then not just her right to freedom of speech and expression that has been taken away by the state, but also the right to rage through the medium that is best known to her.

We are in solidarity with journalist and cartoonist Swathi Vadlamudi and want her FIR to be withdrawn.

Also Read: No, We Can’t Stop Communalizing Asifa Bano’s Rape. Here’s Why.


Featured Image Credit: Swathi Vadlamudi

14 COMMENTS

  1. Why should we be angry on the FIR against Swati Vadlamudi?? The FIR is justified. I want to ask this excuse of a human being (swati) as to why she dragged religion into this? Why dont you dare to say the same about islam. I think there are many cases of molvis and mullahs raping innocent young girls who were less than 18 years old.

  2. Since when is Rape only committed by Hindus? Since when are MPs or people in power only Hindu? Her cartoon is not satire and cannot be compared to Charlie Hebdo because it lacks any rationale or logic. Vadlamudi is entitled to her views but she is not entitled to impose her views on everyone else. Nor is she entitled to smear everyone of any religion with the same brush. Just because the child in the Kathua rape case was found in a temple, does not mean she was necessarily killed there or that she was killed by Hindus. Religion has nothing to do with rape. Rapes occur across the globe in each continent and they occur across religions. In the UK there were several cases of grooming and rape by Muslim men. In Leeds, Bradford, Rochdale. It does not mean only muslim men rape. It does not mean that the whole populace supports the rape nor does it mean that the populace don’t feel anger about rapes and violence against women. Only a court can decide on a case and convict the perpetrators based on evidence, not hearsay. Vadlamudi is not privy to the forensic evidence in the case. The Kathua rape case should not be a kangaroo trial by media. Unfortunately Vadlamudi’s cartoon was irresponsible and insults moderate Hindus and may increase right wing support. She cannot be compared to Gauri Lankesh either. Gauri fought for the rights of all and she did it intelligently. Vadlamudi’s cartoon is attempt is to get attention for herself. She should not have been subjected to threats but if you brand a whole branch of society rapists then what reaction do you expect? Who ever heard of Vadlamudi before this cartoon?? Any rape is vile and despicable. We should be fighting for the rights of the victims. We should fight to make sure that laws are implemented against violent crimes against, men, women and children. Drawing childish cartoons is not an intelligent way forward. Vadlamudi had alienated not only the hardliners but also the moderates.

  3. Since when are all Hindus rapists? Rape occurs across religions and countries. What does Vadlamudi know of the forensic evidence of the Kathua case? Her information is hearsay. Her cartoon was insulting and offensive to moderate Hindus as well as the hardliners. We should fight for justice for the victims of violent crimes but hearsay and trial by media is not justice and is not acceptable. It plays into the hands of the right wingers and undermines justice. The cartoon was not satire it was childish. It got her onto the BBC pages so furthered her career at least.

  4. What? Mythological figures of Ram and Sita? It’s India where these bhakths read articles and get along with their lives. Even in US (a supposedly liberal and open society), they wouldn’t dare call Jesus fake or Christianity a plagiarized religion in mainstream media or journalism.

    Its funny and there’s something wrong when day in and day out we read such articles without a Charlie Hebredo like outcome and we are supposed to be intolerant. Let’s just face it, we are super tolerant as a society and especially towards BS.

    Why this cartoon should not make us angry? Yes, it should not but am angry that you don’t draw cartoons with Mohammed sleeping in a compromising position with a baby or maybe Ayesha saying I am more safe in this cave than your tribesmen when something like say the Mumbai Kamala mills rape happened.

    • The BBC has been publishing Hinduphobic rhetoric and articles for many years now. Even though not all Hindus support the ‘saffron brigade’ the articles give the impression ALL Indians support the saffron brigade.These articles do not provide balanced or fair reporting.

      The articles have caused an increase in attacks against Hindus regardless of whether or not they support moderates or hardliners as a result have turned off moderates.

      The BBC published the Vadlamudi cartoon but did NOT publish the Charlie Hedbo cartoon about Mohammed. Why was that the case? Is free speech selective then?

  5. Well deserved FIR! Freedom of speech as guaranteed by the constitution has some restrictions…one of those is in the interest of public order, this cartoon can very well be classified under it! Swathi should be ashamed of inciting religious tensions especially in the light of this sensitive issue where it should have been carefully avoided!\

  6. Swathi Vadlamudi was careful to publish her cartoon on her own Facebook page not in a newspaper. Therefore she used a public platform as a private citizen to post her views. She did not post it as a journalist. Journalists are supposed to report the news. They are not meant to create the news and then report it.

    I do not condone the vicious verbal attacks on her. It is shocking that she has been threatened. I hope the police submit an FIR against these hooligans.

    However I do agree with the FIR against her for hurting religious sentiments. It insults moderates as well as the hardliners. The Indian constitution protects the religious rights of everyone. The freedom fighters who wrote the constitution were aware that the world was not a sophisticated place and that in order to prevent communal baiting, it was necessary to create a law which protected everyone’s right to practice their religion without ridicule or attacks.

  7. Its not a “Religious Rape” guys, rather it is the social behavior grown in a huge populace without education. Uneducated society drowned into extreme religious emotions. Most of such societies are being fooled by their pundits.

  8. That is Good that FIR is registered and it is not crime to file. If she has done for other religion then there would have been RIOTS in Country.Take example of Denmark “Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy” WHY you get HINDU GOD for Cartoons? Shame on Cartoonist. ? Imagine IF she do caricature of any ISLAM or CHRISTIAN GOD or Prophet then there would have been FATWA and IF by filing FIR you are ANGRY then imagine ,,, Cartoon of GREAT GOD RAMA ,made HINDU Angry TOOOOO. So

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