16 December gang rape accused Mukesh Singh’s views as shown in the BBC Documentary did not shock me. Someone who had the mindset to be part of a heinous gang rape can also be expected to hold those views. I didn’t expect him to suddenly send out signs of remorse.
I was not particularly interested in watching the Nirbhaya documentary. But with too many advocates of free speech (who preach free speech but will tag and inbox you, until you say yes to their theory), I did take a chanced glance at the documentary. The government ban made sure a not very well made documentary got the maximum eye balls. While I see no reason in banning a documentary (an open forum to discuss the film would score better than a ban); I sincerely hope BBC does a documentary on say a 13 year old Miley Dowler and names it UK’s daughter( or the Rotterdam sex crimes). Or a documentary on the Jewish woman in France and names it France’s daughter. On the 19year old gang rape victim of Saudi Arabia (who also gets whipped as per Sharia law) and names it Saudi’s daughter. Rape is not an Indian phenomenon. Can we please say this loudly and clearly to the world? There is no geographical specification attached to the word rape.
The Nirbhaya incident brings back bitter memories, but it also reminds us of a courageous woman who fought her attackers and as her light went out, gave a voice to countless other victims. I do not know what rules this documentary flouted or if this was an attempt to malign India’s image. But as a woman (who has faced sexual harassment at workplace, been groped in buses) and as an Indian the furor over this documentary forces me to look for a few answers:
- Weren’t we always averse to being called mothers, sisters and daughters? Didn’t we women always seek identity as an individual? Would the name ‘Indians Daughter’ make you so emotional had it been made by a nameless Indian filmmaker? A BBC tag conveniently does away with the ‘patriarchy’ angle? Or does the award work in the favor?
- How often have we criticized journalists for interviewing families of blast/rape victims! The general opinion being – how would a family feel in such circumstances? Was it absolutely essential to put the woman’s parents through the pain all over again? Is journalism about pulling up hapless pasts to get some international fame? And please do not forget how visuals of victim’s crying mother were arranged in the video while editing to bring maximum effect.
- Why is the nation so outraged with this documentary? Aren’t the countless rapes in India enough to ‘wake you from slumber’? The victim’s friend was on a Television Channel a couple of years back. Where was this outrage or solidarity then? Or do you need someone to suddenly come to this country and rescue you? The views of Nirbhaya’s rapist have ‘disgusted’ all. But what were we expecting the rapist to say? What will a man who took part in the crime (and the gory murder) say? Fall on his knees and ask redemption? Has it ever occurred to any of the viewers that he encourages more and more rapists to kill their victims – “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.”Will BBC or its supporters take responsibility if Mukesh Singh’s statement leads to more loses of life? Giving a convict a platform for hate speech doesn’t help Nirbhaya’s cause or any of the victims of this country. The gory details about pulling out the woman’s intestines will change anything for women and India? It will make the average men on the street look at women with respect? The lawyer’s statements too are nothing new. These echoes are heard from some of our men in power and of course some undisputed saints of the country. Is it necessary to play and replay his dialogs? If so what contribution does it do to our cause of safety?
- The rapist’s family had no participation in his crime. Don’t you think interviewing them is also shaming them; making them vulnerable to countless of people? And what about arming the rapist with 40,000 rupees for his statements? How does that help to empower or ensure a safety of any woman in this country?
Does the generalization of Indian men make you comfortable? There is not a potential rapist in every corner of India. There are countless groups who are working for the safety of women in this country; for rights of the victim and for justice. An exploitative narrative does no good to our cause. I fail to understand one thing – the protests and faceless men and women braving lathis couldn’t wake us up? What changed with this documentary?
P.S – Dear government, thanks for the ban, the not very convincing documentary has now become a must watch!