Gender-based violence is rife in countless places around the world. It’s shocking that in many cultures, women and girls are considered to be second-class citizens. Whilst men/boys get the opportunities, their lives are strictly governed by expected norms, whether they’re based on religious or social conventions. This is something which is commonplace and affects their every day lives. However, it’s not until something truly horrific happens that the eyes of the world focus on the problem in that country.
In 2012, a young physiotherapy intern was subjected to a beating and gang rape on a bus in Delhi, which eventually led to her death. Two years later in Mumbai, Inka Achte sets out to chart a group of men trying to eradicate toxic masculinity in Indian society. Harish, a middle-aged man, dedicates his life to tackling this problem; running a boys group to teach the next generation right from wrong. 16-year-old Ved comes from an abusive household and is one of his mentees. Through these meetings he begins to see a brighter future, both for himself and the country as a whole.
Boys Who Like Girls is their story. The story of teenagers trying to make a difference. Attempting to ensure that the social attitudes of their parents’ generation are not perpetuated by their children. It’s the story of the struggle to get these kinds of male-led initiatives funded. In India at least, the onus needs to be on men to take responsibility for their own actions and those of their peers. Boys Who Like Girls shines the spotlight on a huge social problem and outlines one of the solutions. It’s a film which documents and details without seeking to question or pass judgement.
The world premiere of Boys Who Like Girls takes place at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 9 June. It also screens at the festival on 12 June.