WOMEN
12/08/2014 10:38 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

7 Inspiring People And Organizations Fighting Back Against India's Culture Of Misogyny

A new generation of Indian women won't stay silent, owing largely to the brave men and women who have spoken up about women's rights and safety in the country.

As The Huffington Post launches in India, we wanted to recognize some of the amazing people standing up for women. Here are seven inspiring people and organizations tackling rape culture and misogyny and supporting women's rights in the 1.2 billion-person country:

1. Men Against Rape and Discrimination (MARD)

Founded in January 2013, the social initiative invites men to pledge that they will "live with values of gender equality and respect towards women" -- and spread awareness about MARD in their family and community. The organization partnered with Google to promote Internet literacy and empower women through online communities.

2. Bell Bajao!

The organization, started in 2008, is a campaign calling on men and boys to stand up against domestic violence. They create video PSAs, seen by over 2 million people, showing how to intervene in violent situations and help survivors.

3. Madhuri Krishnaswamy, activist

Krishnaswamy was jailed in 2013 for protesting the lack of health facilities in the Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh. Substandard maternal healthcare regularly puts women and infants at risk.

"It is not what we have to say on the issue of maternal rights that annoys the system, but that we strongly articulate any rights at all," Krishnaswamy told Open Democracy in December 2013.

4. Nandita Das, actress

nandita das

The Bollywood actress has campaigned for women's rights, HIV/AIDS awareness and domestic violence survivors. Das also supports the Dark Is Beautiful campaign, celebrating the beauty of all skin tones despite a standard that privileges lighter ones.

"I want people to be comfortable in their own skin and realise that there is more to life than skin colour," Das told The Guardian in August 2013.

5. Kalki Koechlin and Juhi Pandey, actresses

Koechlin and Pandey starred in a September 2013 satire video about victim-blaming in Indian culture. The viral clip debunks the ideas that women "deserve" to be raped because of what they are wearing or how they speak to their attackers.

“We were worried about people not understanding the sarcasm," Koechlin told The Hindustan Times. "It’s a sensitive topic and we were anxious that it might backfire. Humor is a fantastic way to deal with a serious subject."

6. Freida Pinto, actress

freida pinto cannes

The "Slumdog Millionaire" actress and activist for women's issues has spoken out about the importance of girls' access to education and ending female genital mutilation. In a Dec. 2 interview, Pinto shared her definition of equality with The Press Trust of India:

Feminism to me is equality. There is no man over woman and vice versa. Feminism is a very misconstrued and misunderstood topic. “As soon as we say feminism, it does not mean all men should become subordinate and women should be the ones who rule the world. The only way we can have a progressive and successful country or world is when men and women treat each other as equals.

7. Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International

After two teenage cousins were gang raped and killed on their way to relieve themselves in a field in Uttar Pradesh in May 2014, nonprofit Sulabh International installed 108 toilets in that rural area. Sulabh's founder, Bindeshwar Pathak, believes that the girls would not have been attacked and murdered if they been afforded access to indoor sanitation facilities.

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