Comic relief

The Asian Age.  | Cherylann Mollan

Life, More Features

A workshop in the city will harness the art of cartooning to create awareness about laws related to women’s safety.

Supreet K Singh

While the law is a powerful tool to bring about justice and the bad guys to book, it can also be an intimidating, dry subject— one that’s associated with complicated jargon and old men in robes banging gavels. However, a workshop in the city aims to make the law interesting by explaining crucial laws related to women’s safety through cartoons.

Titled Laws through Cartoons, the event is organised by Safecity, a platform that crowdsources data on sexual harassment in public spaces, and will focus on laws related to cyberstalking, bullying, revenge porn, sexual harassment at the workplace. The experts will also provide a step-by-step process for filing an FIR. To keep things exciting, participants will learn how to use the tool of illustration to provoke conversations around experiences related to these topics and harness the right laws to deal with them. The event will also see Nappinai & Co. Advocates, Indian School of Design and Innovation (ISDI) and the Consulate of Canada collaborating with Safecity.

An example of how participants will be taught to illustrate laws.

But marrying a serious subject like law with something as light-hearted as cartoons is a unique approach to studying the law and Supreet K Singh, Director of Red Dot Foundation, of which Safecity is a flagship program, tells us why she thought ‘Lawtoons’ would be the perfect approach to make the law more accessible.  

“In our experience, we’ve realised that there is a huge difference between the number of crimes committed and those reported because many don’t really report a crime. And this happens because people are either not aware of the appropriate laws or they choose not to report a crime because of the shame, taboo, and strife that come with doing so. We want to create a community that is not only aware of laws but also has the capacity to converse about the problems faced. Cartoons are easier to digest, so combining law with cartoons seemed like a good idea,” she says.

To make this happen, advocates will first introduce the laws that need to be illustrated and explain them through prominent cases that have happened in the recent past. Post this, Jai Ranjit, faculty member of ISDI will step in, aided by his team of five students, who will break up the participants into small groups of five to 10 members each, and help them grasp the finer aspects of illustration.  

“Participants will be asked to imagine a scenario where a specific law is applicable, think about how they will use the law to their advantage, and what the possible outcome can be. Using very simple lines and artwork, they can create a three-box-panel depicting the same. Alternatively, they could also experiment with creating a standalone image to explain a case or a law,” says Ranjit. Participants will also be taught how to create storyboards and will be exposed to different illustrations styles that could be used while making comic strips.

Ranjit believes that art and humour can help make complicated laws more palatable, encouraging people to engage with them. “Illustration and art has always been the easiest way to get information across, because no matter what language you speak, you can always understand a visual. Laws have a lot of jargon, but illustrations make it easy to understand the powers of the law as visuals bring about better memory recall,” he shares.

While the artist also hopes that workshops like these will help foster a culture of cartooning in the country, especially at a time when social media has made it easy to put one’s creations into the public domain, Supreet hopes that this workshop will help contribute to the existing literature on law and safety.

“In the future, we hope to create a booklet made up of illustrations from these workshops, which we then want to circulate among people, especially the youth, because they are the most vulnerable section of our community. They have a lot of access to the Internet, and in fact, know people more through their online image than their offline persona. So, it’s crucial for them to be able to harness the law to stay safe. Social media isn’t going to go away, so we might as well learn how to use to safely and to our benefit,” she concludes.

Happening on July 6, 10 am to 2 pm at ISDI