Updated: Dec 14, 2020
After months of meticulous planning, endless emails, countless social media requests and lots of hard work, The Rights Collective’s Break The Silence zine has finally arrived!
To celebrate the launch, we held our inaugural event where we explored the nuanced voices of members of the British South Asian Diaspora who identify as womxn or as non-heteronormative.
We were overwhelmed with the fantastic turnout as zine contributors, friends, family and others joined us for an insightful night of networking and panel discussions.
The concept of our zine began in March this year as a way of tackling The Rights Collective’s first goal: to break the silence. After all, to support womxn of the British South Asian Diaspora, we first needed to understand the issues in our community by creating spaces where individuals could talk about their experiences more openly.
And so began our #BreakTheSilence campaign as we encouraged our community, friends and family to share their experiences in any creative form - stories, poems, illustrations - whatever they felt comfortable with.
It takes a lot to come forward and share very personal experiences, yet we were overwhelmed with the enthusiasm and more importantly, honesty, behind these stories.
The number of attendees at our event reaffirmed our belief that there is a willingness to talk, break down barriers and challenge gender inequity within our communities.
This was further demonstrated during our panel discussion which included two zine contributors – Colourfull founder, Dee Jas and gender and sexual health expert, Simran Chawla. They were joined by South Asian Sister Speaks co-founder Sheetal Mistry and Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre CEO, Benaifer Bhandari.
Chaired by our co-founder, Nishma Jethwa, the panel covered topics of sexuality, colourism, inequality, cultural norms etc. while the audience was given an opportunity to ask their own questions.
Our networking session was anything but silent as we engaged with our guests and heard them sharing their own stories - bringing like-minded people together for a mutual cause certainly created an electric atmosphere. We can’t wait to build on this momentum for our future zines and events to bring our community together.
We’re happy to share some of our favourite quotes from the night:
“Our community’s grown quickly and I’m hopeful because those conversations are wanting to be had. People are there and they want to have those conversations.” – Sheetal Mistry, South Asian Sisters Speak Co-founder
“At the crux of it, all religions are about love and compassion - when did we forget that? Honour and shame is always located in women’s obedience, women’s bodies, women’s vaginas...” – Simran Chawla, gender and sexual health expert
“It starts with each one of us, if we can make those changes, it’s addictive and it gets stronger and those around us will get stronger.” – Benaifer Bhandari, Hopscotch Asian Women’s Centre CEO
“You’re okay as you are, you’re brilliant as you are...f**ck gender norms!”- Dee Jas, Colourfull Founder
“We wanted The Rights Collective to break free of the cycle and help make change” –, Angeli Vadera, The Rights Collective Co-founder
Tasha Mathur is a volunteer at The Rights Collective. She is a London based freelance journalist and Picture Editor at Sky. She has written on a multitude of gender-based topics within the South Asian community and spoken on a number of panels about various issues faced by South Asian women today.