Love in the Garden of Consent is a music video made by Nirantar in collaboration with Agents of Ishq, exploring complex and nuanced ideas around locating and understanding sexuality in Gender Based Violence. The video, based on Nirantar’s extensive work on exploring the relationship between sexuality and Gender Based Violence (GBV), is an engaging and nuanced exploration of the many ways in which consent and coercion manifest. The video, set in the idyllic Ishq Nagri, explores the idea of Marzi, Mazaa and Majboori (Choice, Fun and Consent), through the narratives of three women speaking to each other about their sexual experiences. While one woman tosses out her deadlines after being persuaded by partner, another finds herself without choice, with a partner who seems to privilege his desire and pleasure over hers. Another woman, enthusiastically seeks out sex that is mutually pleasurable and satisfying. The video explores the nuances and undertones of consent – which often doesn’t exist in the simple binary of yes and no. This draws from Nirantar’s “The Elephant in the Room” which underlines the importance of acknowledging sexuality as a cause for violence as opposed to only looking at it as a form of violence. These linkages were identified during the course of our capacity building work with organisations involved in case-based interventions to address instances of GBV across four states in India (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh). One of the key learnings emerged from our examination of violence from a gender and sexuality perspective is understanding that how many people are subjected to violence because they break gender or sexual norms or because of their gender and sexual identity. However violence against women (VAW) interventions are ill-equipped to deal with sexual differences/conflict, and caseworkers do not engage with varied gender and sexual identities as most of their interventions are targeted towards ‘Good Women’ – heterosexual, married, female assigned at birth. Employing a sexuality perspective also helps distinguish cases of consent from coercion, particularly in cases of young people and conflict situations where the so-called honour of the family is considered to be at stake. This video, helps us further break down and understand consent from a sexuality perspective.
This video, is also part of a diverse set of materials that Nirantar has developed to share these learnings with various stakeholders including grassroots organisations and state/national policy makers working on VAW, and women’s rights groups working to address the current exclusion of marginalised sexualities, including lesbian and bisexual women, trans persons, and sex workers from GBV interventions. This collaboration with Agents of Ishq, helped translate complex ideas into a simple, engaging and accessible format – and has enabled the message reach out to a wider audience.