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Sun 08 Mar 2015

Shooting the Messenger

Tags: bbc india ban

"India’s Daughter”, a documentary on Gang rape of 2012 has been officially banned. The Indian government went all gun to arrest the release of the documentary in India & abroad. BBC, Google, Youtube have all been sent legal notices to comply with the government’s diktat. Congratulations! We have shown the world that we will silence anything that will make us uncomfortable.

Leslee Udwin, the maker of the documentary, has flown out of India citing her security. In an interview to BBC, she said, “But I’m not muzzled. Nor will I be muzzled” 1. India’s Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, was furious & sought report from Tihar’s jail authorities on how the Nirbhaya's rape accused had given a controversial interview to BBC 2. "This is an international conspiracy to defame India. We will see how the film can be stopped abroad too", said parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu 3.

Kudos to the government for silencing the interviewer. We don’t want another ‘Slumdog millionaire’ to remind us of the filth in our society. We are a competing global power. We just launched a satellite to Mars for God’s sake. Such western propaganda will not work. How dare a western correspondent air something demeaning to our country? Shouldn’t she need to visit Taj Majal and experience incredible India?

Pity the nation who champions to be the largest democracy in the world. Pity the nation who needs to silence the dissenting voice. Pity the nation who could easily be ruffled by an uncomfortable truth. Pity the nation where discomforting voices feel threatened. I feel pity and sad.

There’s no rocket science to understand why we need to watch the documentary. The blatant lack of remorse and callousness from the rapist as well as defence lawyers reflect something is wrong with our society.

What was the interview about?

“When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back”. “She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’ and only hit the boy”, said Mukesh Singh, one of the accused in Delhi Gang Rape. Instead of being apologetic, he had the temerity to question the character of girl when he adds, "A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night.".

He is even undeterred by the stringent tough law against rape. He says, “The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won't leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, 'Leave her, she won't tell anyone.' Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.".

Not far behind, joining the bandwagon, were the defence lawyer of the murderers. "In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person," said one of the lawyers, ML Sharma.

"You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn't have any place in our society. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman."

Best Culture?

A woman in northern India has been stripped naked and paraded on a donkey on the orders of village elders after being accused of killing her nephew.4

In October, a woman in the eastern state of Jharkhand was stripped and paraded naked before several family members by her in-laws who wanted a big dowry from her.5

In July, a 60-year-old woman was beaten, stripped and tied to an electricity pole in a village in the eastern state of Orissa after local people accused her of being a witch.6

In January 2012, some upper-caste men in Maharashtra state beat, stripped and paraded naked a low-caste Dalit woman because her son had eloped with an upper-caste girl.7

Mera Bharat Mahan?

Best culture? Culture who still believes the women should be confined within the four walls. Culture who has more abhorrence for Valentine day than female feticide. Culture who burdens the bride’s father under the garb of extravagant wedding & dowry. Culture where Marital Rape is still acceptable. Culture where women are still wary to travel alone outside. Women are branded witched and paraded naked in villages. Yes sir, we do have a best culture.

And we have more in the herd

The other lawyer, AP Singh, had said in a previous televised interview: "If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight."

Such Talibani comments reflects the sad state of affairs of our country. And these men are not exceptions. Even our politicians are party to such comments.

In June 2013 in Bhopal, former Rajya Sabha MP and currently vice-president of BJP, Raghunandan Sharma, had said, “Girls should stop wearing skin-tight jeans because they show the body in its natural shape, and that’s not good. Nari ki ek maryada hoti hai.’’

Manohar Lal Khattar, now the Chief Minister of Haryana, also prescribed a dress code for women. “If a girl is dressed decently, a boy will not look at her in the wrong way. If they want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked? Freedom has to be limited,” Khattar had said in the run-up to last year’s Lok Sabha polls.8

Whose responsible?

India is probably the most hypocritical society. At one instance we worship girls as goddess. Paint her in hues and colors and associate her with prosperity. On the other hand we burden the bride’s father with dowry. Callously judge her character every time. As a boy, nobody questions my character when at times I come late at night. Why such double standard? Why can't I be a slut?

The notion that women needs to be protected fuels the male chauvinist mentality. Women are often portrayed as delicate flower always in need of a guardian. Such idea lead to belief that women are tender,feeble & dependent. Our film industry is also responsible for promulgating such beliefs.

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in the end

Instead of being furious and decry western conspiracies, we need to take a deep breath. Yes, there are more rapes in United States & United Kingdom9, yet the public places in these countries are far safer than India. Ask any women in India what she goes through whenever she travels in public transport.

Girls don't need protection. They can take care of themselves. What they need is co-operation. Yes our society needs to be shamed. We don’t want the best culture, only a culture where our "second gender" feel safe.

Such prevalent mentality is the reason why we need to see more of such documentaries. Please don't shoot the messenger.


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