India is one of the biggest economies in the world yet is currently far behind the so-called ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries. Along with challenges like poverty, pollution, illiteracy, corruption, unemployment, terrorism and communalism, it’s also one of the leading countries in gender-based crimes like rape, sexual assault, kidnapping, abduction, cruelty by intimate partner or relatives, trafficking, persecution for dowry and dowry deaths. We’re known to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women. Sexual crimes against women alone are up by 70% in the last two decades as reported by Mint. With India being predominantly patriarchal in nature, even transgressions like domestic violence and marital rape are known to be culturally acceptable. Although men are the perpetrators of most of these crimes, many women in India play a role in the system of patriarchy. Victim-blaming and body-shaming have led to fewer crimes being reported every year. When we are dealing with a deeply ingrained hostile parasite like this, education, and awareness become the sole weapons in fighting it.
Proudly feminist, Masala Podcast is one of those weapons. It’s a sensational podcast by and for South-Asian women exploring cultural taboos ranging from, sex, sexuality, periods, menopause, porn and sexual harassment to mental health, colourism, body shaming, motherhood, and disability. It was created by activist, writer, and speaker Sangeeta Pillai. She is the founder of the South-Asian feminist network Soulsutras. Sangeeta is also the creator of the Masala Monologues, a series of writing workshops & theatre shows in the UK and the US.
The podcast features some of the most powerful women in South-Asian culture like Poorna Bell, an award-winning journalist and author, Raga D’silva, LGBTQ activist, Farah Kabir, co-founder of female-focused sexual wellness brand HANX, Dr Rageshri Dhairyawan, HIV and sexual health activist, Seema Anand, a mythologist with focus on Kamasutra, Madhu Kapoor, founder of M for Menopause, Leesa Gazi, director of Rising Silence, a documentary about survivors of rape in Bangladesh during the war, Sahara Knite, a South-Asian pornstar, Seema Hari, a software engineer and colourism activist and Bolly Ditz Dolly, a Neo Bollyesque Cabaret Performer. Sangeeta indulges in riveting conversations with these leading ladies, also sharing personal stories from her own life growing up as a South-Asian woman.
Masala podcast has won five British Podcast Awards in 2019, 2020, and 2022. It has also been featured in The Guardian, BBC Radio, Cosmopolitan, Stylist Magazine, The Evening Standard, Sunday Times, Eastern Eye, Huffington Post, Women’s Health Australia, and India’s Deccan Herald. With 36 episodes spread across 4 seasons, it continues to share stories of intersectional feminism and has gained listeners worldwide.
You can listen to it here.