Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) Review, Also Talk About Domestic Violence


 Considering a film with a feminist spirit from India, Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) is one that should not be forgotten. In the context that India is one of the countries with a very strong and obvious patriarchal culture, this film becomes a very bold critique of women's equal rights. Many women's stories are told by this film through its four characters—not least about domestic violence (KDRT). One of the harsh realities experienced by many women and is still happening today—not only in India, but throughout the world, including Indonesia. Previously, a trigger warning for fellow survivors, because this review discusses in sufficient detail about violence.

Overview of the Film Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)

Four Indian women of various ages living in a crowded small-town environment, but with four stories of their lives, dreams, and secrets in order to secretly get a little free space from a patriarchal-conservative society—that's what is told in the film Lipstick. Under My Burkha (2016). The film Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) has to be acknowledged as rich in exploration of the experiences of Indian women. Not trying to homogenize women into a single group, this film provides a wide space for various stories of women with one thing in common: they live under the domination of the conservative-patriarchal culture in India.

Ada Rehana, played by Plabita Borthakur, a young woman from a religious-conservative family who wants to explore her student life freely (associating, dressing up, establishing romantic relationships, and trying to be self-reliant)—but stumbles by the confines of her parents' orders. about 'good women who are submissive'. Ada Usha, played by Ratna Pathak Shah, an elderly woman who is single, who wants to feel love and sexual life like a young person again—but stumbles by the moral values ​​that close the opportunity for older women, which is considered inappropriate. There is Leela, played by Aahana Kumra, an adult woman who is forced into an arranged marriage by her mother, in order to achieve a better life—even though she already has a boyfriend. There is Shirin,

Film Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) is a critique of patriarchy. This film questions why women get very narrow spaces to freely explore their own lives. The confining discourse of 'morality' seems to be only busy managing women, and not men. This film also does not hesitate to highlight the fact that men under patriarchal culture are very easy to commit violence against women—violence in various forms, including physical violence. Various issues are raised as the context in which these women must survive: abusive men in the household, abusive men in courtship relationships, patriarchal fathers who consider their daughters a burden, men who have unsafe sex with their boyfriends and then leave when their girlfriends get pregnant.

In particular, the film is also critical of an important issue that is often forbidden for women: sexual desire. From the beginning to the end, the audience is invited to explore the plot of the film through a pornographic novel that Usha is currently reading, which explores female sexuality from the experience and point of view of a woman named Rosy. The film vocally states that women, young and old, whether they come from religious or secular families, whether single or married—almost all have sexual desires, just like men, and that very human sexual desire should not make they are embarrassed, humiliated, or perceived as 'not good women'. However, make no mistake, Lipstick Under My Burkha(2016) are not criticizing religion—but people who with their 'morality' discourse do not humanize humans.

Closer to Shirin's Character in Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)

There are four characters in Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016), but this review will only focus on discussing one of them—Shirin. Shirin is a wife and mother of three children, an Indian woman who is capable of being empowered and independent. However, she is trapped in an abusive household with her husband who is very dominant in an extremely unequal relationship. Shirin experienced various forms of violence in her own household: mental-emotional violence, economic violence, to sexual violence. Her husband also had an affair with another woman, without feeling any guilt towards her. Shirin seems to be only treated as a 'babu' in her home who is 'in charge of serving' her husband: cooking, washing, taking care of the children, cleaning the house, to sex. Well, kitchen, bed.

One of the most serious forms of violence that Shirin experienced was sexual violence. Shirin never enjoys sexual relations with her husband, which only makes her desire 'satisfy' one-sided. Rahim Aslam, her husband, also refused and refused to use condoms—resulting in Shirin having to bear the sap alone with three abortions and taking pills after every sex, until she developed an infection in her uterus. Shirin already has three children, she can not increase the number of children anymore. Her husband even committed marital rape which was so torturous for Shirin, as a way of showing power and silencing his wife.

Shirin also experienced economic violence. Her husband did not allow her to work because he thought 'she is a woman and it is her nature to stay at home.' In fact, her husband no longer earns, does not provide enough for their family—but also does not allow Shirin to work outside the home, even though it is clearly very helpful for their family's economy. Shirin has been working secretly, with flexible hours as a saleswoman. She is very talented, managed to get the best saleswoman award and even got a promotion offer to a higher level. However, her husband forced her to refuse the offer and leave her job.

Over and over again throughout the film, Shirin seems very reluctant to honestly share stories of domestic violence with others. This is very common among women survivors of domestic violence (KDRT), as a result of the embedded narrative that 'the household is a private space and must be closed tightly'. Violence that occurs is often considered a family disgrace that women cannot bear, causing women to be forced to endure all the suffering alone. Why don't we open a safe space for women victims of domestic violence to be able to share their stories without fear of being judged and blamed?

On the other hand, the women around her (doctors, co-workers) who give advice also do not understand how difficult Shirin's position is in such an unequal relationship with her husband. The doctor only thought that Shirin's pregnancy-abortion problem would be resolved by Shirin communicating this to her husband and asking him to use a condom—without realizing the possibility that Shirin could never even communicate well with her dominant husband. Her co-workers think the abortion will be over once Shirin has a good career—without realizing the possibility that her husband forbids Shirin from working outside the home. Reminding us that domestic violence (KDRT) is a complicated problem which of course cannot be underestimated.

No matter how difficult, Shirin is still a strong woman who tries to fight the culture of violence in her own way. At the end of the film, the audience is not presented with any specific resolutions for the four female characters: Shirin is still trapped in an abusive household, Rehana is still trapped in the one-sided dictates of her conservative-patriarchal parents, Leela has already separated from her fiancé without it being clear whether he really is. will return to his abusive lover or not, and Usha is kicked out of his own house because he is considered to bring shame to his inappropriate behavior as an old woman. However, in the 'confines' of these conditions, these four women accidentally met, sat together, shared stories and laughed at life as a woman.

The film Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) closes with a narrative epilogue from Usha, who tries to write a better ending for the pornographic novel he is reading—a better ending for a woman, such as the conclusion that no matter what happens, women don't have to be. will continue to give up against patriarchy and a culture of violence: “She won't veil her desire. The iron bars at the window cannot hold Rosy back now. Rosy fixed her hair, wiped her tears and jumped right out of the door. The key to Rosy's caged dreams always lay within her own heart.” Yes, Shirin is no exception too.

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