Vartika Nanda on her book of poems on women’s rights

Vartika Nanda juggles journalism, teaching and writing poetry. She has brought the three together in her recently published book of poems, Thee, Hoon, Rahungi, touching on issues of exploitation of women. “I think, today a woman can either speak up, choose to die or pick up the pen. I have picked up the pen and tried to show the pain of those women,” says Nanda.
A 2005 recipient of the Bharatendu Harishchandra Award of the Government of India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, she maintains, “Today the situation of women’s safety is very grim. Given the recent death of Fiza Mohammed, I can say that women of elite households succumb to the pressures of men. My book, Thee, Hoon, Rahungi is in fact the first in India, which has poetry on the issue of crime against women, especially domestic violence.”
The anthology won the Rituraj Parampara Samman. “I started working with poetry in 1984-85,” says Nanda. “Then I got associated with a few TV channels and print media houses as a crime journalist. I realised that I wasn’t doing justice to the cause by putting up a three-minute news clip on the news channel.” That is when, she says, she turned to writing.
Covering the crime beat, Nanda saw many cases of domestic violence. She couldn’t bear the torture some women had to face at the hands of their husbands. “My book also talks about how when wives go to the authorities against their husbands, the husbands resort to defaming them,” says the journalist who teaches in a Delhi University college, adding, I’m not a feminist but I’m against criminal activities towards women.”
She is miffed at the commercialisation of crime and clumsy treatment of sensitive cases by the electronic media. Nanda feels that media-persons should be taught when they are working on sensitive stories. “I feel distressed to see that the name of the victim is flashed repeatedly and the accused moves freely in the society. There was no need to show the clip and the name of the girl who was misbehaved with in Guwahati.”
She gives the credit for her achievements to the women she tries to give a voice to and who choose to live with strength and dignity despite their horrendous experiences. “I’m writing a novel on the same issue and also making a seven-minute film which will be shown at major police stations and NGOs in India,” she signs off.