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India’s outlook toward its daughters!

Posted in View Point


Published on March 13, 2015 with No Comments

How could anyone from the loud mouth TV anchors from India, respected columnist, feminist activists pass a judgement on a film without watching it? How could the Indian politicians who have done nothing to curb the menace of rape decide to ban the film in order to hold the dignity of a rape victim?

Viewpoint1Ever since the media in India reacted in its traditional style asking for banning the film India’s Daughter, I have watched almost all the programs aired at the prime time on various Indian channels –thanks to the digital video recorder that lets me record, watch at leisure and re-watch that has some repeat value. Somehow most have had some repeat value –some due to content, others due the strong views of its expert panel and rest due to their analysis with no logic at all. Still……!
India’s Daughter a documentary directed by Leslee Udwin based on the 2012 Delhi gang rape and brutal murder of 23 year old woman, was planned to be broadcast on International Women’s Day in India on NDTV 24*7 and in UK on BBC Four. Days prior to broadcast, it was revealed that the film-makers had interviewed one of the rapists, when he was being held in India’s Tihar Jail. Indian media reacted; government responded and blocked its broadcast in India by obtaining a court order on 4 March 2015. BBC assured India that it would comply with the order. In UK however, the BBC brought forward the transmission to 4 March. The film was also uploaded on You Tube and soon went viral. On 5 March, the Indian government directed YouTube to block the video in India. YouTube complied with the orders. During this time and since then a storm has been raised by all those who perhaps don’t want their vocal chords to take some legitimate rest.
However, some were different. Former super cop Kiran Bedi while at NDTV made a strong assertion that in order to understand why a crime happens we need to understand the mindset of the criminal –the reason behind what drives them to the crime. She was at her assertive best and perhaps the sole reason that prompted me to watch the documentary on You Tube. One argument that was put in Lok Sabha was that free access to the film would turn the rapist into a celebrity on the social network sites. The film does nothing of the sort. There are interviews with one of the charged rapists who justifies the crime but he is not the loudest in the film, he is not central character of the film. He says, “A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20 percent of girls are good.” Full marks to the director Leslee Udwin that she decided to feature this very comment of the rapist in the film. Mukesh’s comments are writ with what reflects a patriarchal mindset, where a woman needs to be tamed, and put in her place, where for him the act of rape is not the fault of a man, because for him men are superior and hence can exercise. His views mainly are reflection of the larger mindset that the Indian male has for women, and almost similar views have been expressed by leaders ,“saints” belonging to right wing Hindu groups and conservatives from Muslim community. The cause of concern emerges from fact that the rapist’s comments during his interview show no remorse for his actions despite being in jail for over three years now.

India’s Daughter does not glorify rape, though the leaders through their over activism want the world to believe so. Rather it exposes another section of the society –
where lawyers perpetuate the same stereotypes about women as the rapists they are defending! An insight into the mindset of men of India, as put forth by Kiran Bedi.
The fact that the documentary was permitted to be made is a reflection of the democratic setup and openness of India. Now, the flimsy ground of the national image being hurt, on the basis of which the ban is being imposed, is a slur on the forward-thinking image of India. The documentary is not only a portrayal of the mind of the criminal; it is also a celebration of the struggles and modern outlook of victim’s parents and also the reaction and support of many student communities and prominent personalities of the society. There is no glorification of the crime or the criminal; through them the director has shown a mirror to the Indian society that is not willing to change its outlook towards its daughters.



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