Updated: Apr 10, 2020
*TRIGGER WARNING* SENSITIVE CONTENT INVOLVING SEXUAL ASSULT/ UNCONSENSUAL SEX
Arranged marriage and the pressure to settle down at an early age is an all too common anxiety for the South Asian community. The patriarchal society expects women to be virgins before marriage but does nothing to educate men and women about consent. Fairy tales tell us that love is love and from love comes sex. Love’s reputation of being untameable then translates to sexual urges being unstoppable. So, what happens when a South Asian woman is raped before marriage? She cannot turn to family, she cannot tell authorities, she will get the blame. She would be considered unclean and face judgement for the actions of other people which could eventually lead to disownment or honour killing.
On the other hand, an arranged marriage might lead to rape. Sex (consensual or not) is considered a duty in marriage. Is it the duty of young South Asians to prepare themselves to sacrifice their bodies for their family’s gratification and reputation?
Aftermath tells the narrative of a South Asian girl who has experienced rape and sexual trauma and is preparing to break the ice through self-growth, healing and sharing. She is mindful though, that accepting a future in marriage will have its plights.
Rituals that occur before an Indian marriage tend to revolve around purification and cleansing of the individual about to get married. Aftermath sees the artist performing the chura ceremony that would usually be performed with family members. The artist is essentially shackling herself to a future she knows she must face eventually. Culture holds back her voice but through finding ownership in herself as her own nurturer she finds liberation and can put the past to rest before connecting with audience members with an exchange of ice and milk.