How a Bollywood Star is Tackling Women's Rights Issues in India

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How a Bollywood Star is Tackling Women's Rights Issues in India

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Monday, April 27, 2015 - 7:00am

CAMPAIGN: Diversity at 21st Century Fox

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Since its launch in 2012, STAR India's groundbreaking social awareness series Satyamev Jayate has become the premier platform through which Indians can discuss their society's most pressing issues. The series features Bollywood star Aamir Khan in conversation with victims, activists, and experts, as they explore such subjects as the caste system, alcoholism, and political corruption. On April 22 at the 6th annual Women in the World Summit in New York City, Khan spoke at length about how the show has addressed women's rights issues over the course of its three-season run.

Speaking in conversation with Zainab Salbi, founder of the nonprofit Women for Women International, Khan explained that women's issues have been a part of Satyamev Jayate since the very first episode, which addressed the issue of female feticide. That episode alone, streamed digitally and broadcast on multiple STAR channels in six local languages, was watched by roughly 50 million people, and now, years later, its effects are still being felt.

Khan said that since that first episode aired in 2012, census figures showing 914 girls born compared to 1,000 boys in the states of Mahrashtra and Rajasthan (the worst states on record in terms of gender ratio) had changed radically. Today, the ratio has improved by 50 to 60 points, and local leaders have pointed to Satyamev Jayate as a major contributing factor.

As the show has gone on, it has continued to consistently address issues facing women and girls in India, from domestic violence to the dowry system to sexual violence and rape. In its most recent season, which aired on STAR in the fall of 2014, one episode framed violence against women as not just a women's issue but as a men's issue.

"Unless we redefine what it is to be a man, things aren't going to change," Khan said to Salbi. "You cannot raise a boy telling him not to cry. You are in effect distancing him from emotion and then you are surprised when he grows up and beats his wife."

The talk also gave Khan a chance to reflect on the success of the show, which has garnered an audience of an estimated 517 million viewers and raised more than $45 million for its NGO partners.

"No one would have imagined that a show that speaks of such heavy topics would be so popular across the country," Khan said. "And the fact that it's so popular really speaks well of Indians today. We have issues, we have problems, but we want to move ahead and improve ourselves. That's what the success of the show tells us."

Click here to keep reading at impact.21CF.com. 

Keywords: 21st century fox | Events, Media & Communications | Diversity & Inclusion | India | Media and Communications | Philanthropy & Cause Initiatives | Positive Change | Responsible Business & Employee Engagement | Social Change | Social Impact & Volunteering | Social Media

CAMPAIGN: Diversity at 21st Century Fox

CONTENT: Article

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