Friday, March 6, 2015

India's daughter - A film well made, a title badly chosen

It was a day long tussle between uploading and taking down. A bold documentary, which has now caught the 'living room syndrome' of a nation, just as the event, which led up to the making of this documentary in the the first place. There had been something cataclysmic about the horrific, brutal rape and subsequent death of a para medical student on 16th December 2012. An event which had shaken us from within. It is not that it was the first time, not that it happens only in India, not that it was the only paradox that Indian women or women in general have to go through everyday, but what shuddered us up was the extent of brutality it involved. The extent of inhumanity involved. Not only her modesty was violated, but also her organs which would have still functioned and made her live was torn and pulled out brutally from her body, wrapped in a piece of cloth, and thrown out. As if it didn't matter, her modesty, her views, her right to life, it just did not matter. What mattered was the perpetrators right to violate her modesty in the name of culture, violate her body in the name of teaching her a lesson on how to be a woman, violate her right to life. The documentary was well made till it was given its title. Is rape an 'Indian' event? No it is not. Rape is a worldwide phenomenon just like global warming. It is not restricted to a specific country, or religion, or race. 
However, even though atrocities towards women isn’t country centric or religion centric, yet when a documentary made by BBC on the mentioned crime that caught the imagination of not only the people in India but also of the world, brought out the hypocrisy of the self-proclaimed ‘superior class’. Patriarchal values and mentality is so deep rooted in our society that whenever anyone tries to hold up a mirror to show the patriarch the real image, what he rightly does is close his eyes pretending if he doesn’t see it no one does. If we want westerners to know about our ‘Indian culture’ let them know it the way it is. Why do we want to customise the way they see us. When we agree to give a visa to them to come and visit us, then why take away the right of analysis. These people come from countries where they are allowed to hold opinions, come here, see things, and make judgements. And if they see rape and religious intolerance then so be it. May be you are in a denial mode but he isn’t. What are you ashamed of? Are you ashamed of your culture where if a woman is raped then she has invited it? Are you ashamed because you think that she was raped because she chose to dress differently from your mother? She was raped because she chose to live her life independently? Or you are ashamed because you think that by redressing that rape by marriage to the culprit is what your so called culture is. You are ashamed because you are scared that the world chooses to differ. You are ashamed because you do not hear an echo of your school of thought with the world. You are ashamed that the sick mentality of your sons will come threadbare. A perception which sees women as only sex objects. Objects who do not have any voice of their own. Objects who should act and dress in a certain way that you want them to. Where in the name of celebration and right you choose to violate her body and her emotions and she does not even have a right to protest. Where in the name of being a husband marital rapes take place. Where in the name of being a teacher a student’s trust is broken. What culture are you talking of where the ‘moral guardians’ of our society preach that a certain section of the society in the name of religion should go and rape women of other religion even if it means raping dead ones. What cultures are you talking of where you regard a bovine as your mother and rape an actual one? What culture are you talking of which is so bigoted in its thought procedure? What culture are you talking of where we defend ‘our sons’ saying that boys will be boys and they will make mistakes. Mistakes which cost a human not only her honour but also her life sometimes; when if spared mistakes which will traumatise her all her life. Mistakes which allow the perpetrators take away her right to her own body. Yes, it is a mistake; an unforgivable mistake, an unpardonable mistake. A mistake which is the result of your underlying sick mentality. And when the ‘westerner’ rubs it on your face you shout ‘BAN IT’!!
Whether we choose not to see our ‘culture’ so blatantly doesn’t change anything. India or elsewhere, every society needs a sea change. A change in the way men look at women. Change in the way husbands treat their wives. Change in the attitude where we not only tell our daughters to behave like a woman, but also where we tell our sons how to treat a woman. The only valid and prime objection to this two days old drama is that the case is under subjugation. Hence, it is important for restricting it from main stream media lest it might influence the logical end. But banning it is unacceptable. Reasons like it was shoddily researched, or it has a potential of unleashing nationwide misogyny and misandry, or it demeans national honour or will incite mobs is not only uncalled for but also atrocious. Legal objections to the interview might seem reasonable when it stretches on having an impact on impressionable minds. The unremorseful accused who instead accuses the victim for his demeaning attitudes and actions. The blatant sick nauseated mind-set of the lawyers who are representing the accused. The parents who weren’t even sure of whether their child was alive or not defend him by refusing to be accountable for his actions. But are we Indians a bunch of thumb sucking imbeciles whose way of thinking can be indoctrinated by a documentary? Why do we say it is voyeurism whenever a rape victim or her family comes forward to take it further? These films might not bring in a change but certainly these films, documentaries, and articles push forward to bring in some change on a war footing. They are crucial contributors in bringing in this change. They are like catalysts which will help in bringing in the change. Change against sexual assault. Change in the mindset. We seem to assume that the fight ends when we bring in the laws; often the FIRs are the first steps to the long walk towards freedom and justice for the victim who is besieged by character assassination to oblivion.  

The film, with all its flaws speaks truth so blatantly that the ‘Indian Patriarchal Society’ feels threatened, that no wonder the most offended are the Indian men. Delhi is the living room of the ‘elite’. It articulates the thoughts and the aspirations of the rest of the country. They are the ones who own the decision making syndrome of the country’s population. That way no one can question their superiority in governing the masses. And if that means curbing the truth, because it is unacceptable in general, then it is the ownership of the ‘Elite’ to make sure. But however unacceptable the truth is, closing your eyes and thinking that no one is watching is not helping. Everyone is watching. The country is watching. The world is watching. And if the government is determined to develop India, then it must start empowering its women and empowerment will come in when it makes sure each and every woman feels safe in her own motherland. Everytime she leaves her home, she should not be looking constantly over her shoulders. She should walk the road without a care for the world. The documentary is a very well made one. The only flaw is the title. Rape in not ‘Indian’. Rape is an international crime. ‘Nirbhaya: The story of a daughter’ is what I think it should be named or renamed.