20 Mar 2015

#RapAgainstRape: A message from India

10:42 am on 20 March 2015

Indian duo speak out against what they call an 'explicit' reality.


In the wake of Indian officials banning a documentary about an infamous New Delhi gang rape,  a female duo are fighting to change attitudes with rap.

The clip titled #RapAgainstRape features TV host Pankhuri Awasthi and  theatre artist Uppekha Jain  delivering powerful lyrics about misogyny, domestic violence and sexual assault.

The video has garnered over 200,000 hits on YouTube since it was posted last Tuesday.  

Calling themselves BomBaebs, the pair from Mumbai say they created the video because they wanted to see more “intelligent content” for young Indians.

While the first-time rappers address inequality in their own culture, they believe the message is relevant to people across the world.

“Every person in every strata of society should work to abolish stereotypes that have plagued women for centuries,” says Pankhuri.

They made the clip after the Indian government banned India’s Daughter - a documentary about the 2012 gang rape and murder of a medical student on a bus in New Delhi.

“We were deeply shocked and anger by the incident and when we saw the documentary, it left a very deep impact on both of us,” says Pankhuri.

The outspoken performers wouldn’t talk about the ban, saying the issue was very “sensitive” and neither felt “qualified to comment” however, both feel change is taking place.

“While there are many who still need to evolve and accept women as equals, there are also a lot of progressive and forward thinking men in India that are actively trying to further the progress of women here,” says Uppekha. 

Uppekha was born in India but moved to Toronto at a young age. She was crowned Miss India Worldwide Canada in 2008 before moving to Mumbai where she’s been for the past four years.

The other half of the rapping duo, Pankhuri, was born in Mumbai and grew up in the city where she is now a TV host, actor, and singer.

The pair says they meet and “instantly connected” three years ago while performing in a play together.  

“Women empowerment has always been a cause close to both of our hearts.”

While the response to their work has been largely positive, the young women have received some negative backlash.

“That’s the reality of life on social media. Anger is often the first emotion people feel when you’re tackling hypocrisies and atrocities but eventually this will lead to change.”

Pankhuri and Uppekha say the global response to their video has been “overwhelming” and they believe their work is resonating with people from across the world.