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A ‘Truth’ Revealed!

It has been brought to notice that around 78 statues have been there for years near a huge square in the heart of an ancient and historic city of northern Italy. Those statues are of eminent personalities, who had contributed to the city’s history, politics, religion, education, culture, and scientific progress. It has recently been found that there is not a single statue of a woman, as all of them are statues of male personalities. Immediately after this report surfaced, cultural experts have carried out a survey according to which there are only 148 female statues at public places in Italy, popularly known as the country of sculpture. The survey has also claimed that only one-third of those 148 statues have been erected in crowded squares. Furthermore, there are fewer statues of female personalities, who had contributed to intellectual fields, such as Science or Art. Most of them are of female religious leaders, mothers or wives of famous personalities, and female workers.

Revelations of this Truth has triggered an uproar in Italy, with various City Councils planning to install statues of famous female personalities of national history. Some such statues have already been installed at public places. A section of people have also opposed the move, as they have argued that it is too late to install their statues, saying that the Italians have mostly forgotten those eminent personalities, and they have already become a part of history.

David Statue, Italy

Naturally, the question arises here: If people from the not-so-recent past have forgotten them, and they have been a part of History; don’t the people, both from the modern or old days, know at least a little bit of History? People, including politicians, cultural activists, teachers, tourists, thinkers, et al, have been seeing these statues at city squares and other crowded places for long. Unfortunately, no one has voiced the fact that the number of female statues is negligible in Italy. Perhaps, they are habituated to see the manifestation of the strength of masculinity or patriarchy. The dominant presence of male figures in historical sculpture and architecture shows that the concept of patriarchy is deeply rooted in the public mind, and it is hence, the educated and cultured members of Italian society have ignored the Truth, revealed by the recent study. Statues of mother figures or tired subaltern women prove that everyone has become accustomed to seeing figures of stereo-typed characters exhibited by women in various forms of art. It seems that this habit is also a contribution of patriarchy.

Statues on the canal at the Prato della Valle square in Padua in 2017. The sculptures depict illustrious historical figures with strong ties to the northern Italian city. (Getty Images)

The eastern Indian city of Kolkata has something to learn from the events taking place in the Italian city. In Kolkata, popularly known as the Cultural Capital of India, there are so many statues of prominent male personalities, such as Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar (an Indian educator and social reformer of the 19th Century), Rabindranath Tagore (an Indian polymath, poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter), Swami Vivekananda (an Indian Hindu monk and philosopher), Subhas Chandra Bose (an Indian nationalist), Khudiram Bose (an Indian revolutionary), et. al. However, there is hardly any statue of Begum Rokeya (a Bengali feminist thinker, writer, educator and political activist from British India), Ashapurna Debi (a Bengali writer) or Leela Majumdar (a Bengali writer). Women’s representation ends in a handful of sculptures of Indira Gandhi (former Prime Minister of India), Rani Rasmoni (an Indian businesswoman, landlady, and philanthropist of the 19th Century) and Matangini Hazra (an Indian revolutionary who participated in the Indian Independence Movement until she was shot dead by the British Indian police).

Statues in Kolkata

Time has come for Kolkata and other Indian cities to follow the example set by Padua, a city in Northern Italy’s Veneto region.

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