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To be or not to be India’s Daughter?


First anniversary of the Delhi gang rape, in New Delhi December 16, 2013 (Copyright: Reuters)

First anniversary of the Delhi gang rape, in New Delhi December 16, 2013 (Copyright: Reuters)

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, NDTV, India’s largest English news channel, was due to broadcast British filmmaker Leslee Udwin’s documentary India’s Daughter. The film is based on the brutal murder and gangrape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, Jyoti Singh also known as Nirbhaya which means ‘The Fearless One’.

The 2012 incident shocked the world and Delhi was dubbed as ‘The Rape Capital of India’. Rape was a widespread problem before Nirbhaya, but this case was too close to home for the city’s urban middle class.

Leslee Udwin (Copyright: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

Filmmaker Leslee Udwin (Copyright: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images)

Thousands of angry protestors took to the streets across the country and demanded better measures to protect women, activists demanded amendments to the rusty laws and camera teams fed the nation 24×7. A revolution had begun and the silence had been broken.

People started talking about rape and sexual assault. This opened up Pandora’s box, and out came issues like female foeticide, gender bias, dowry deaths. The patriarchal mindset embedded deep in the society was questioned. Activists rolled up their sleeves and launched awareness campaigns with a new-found energy.

India’s daughters came together in solidarity, they held hands and pledged ‘Enough is enough’. India’s daughters who have been disrespected for generations decided that it was time to take back the respect that was rightfully theirs. India’s daughters found their voices again and become bolder. India’s daughters have declared a war on patriarchy.

Udwin’s film documents this revolution. Udwin film also showcases a scoop, an interview with one of the convicted rapists in Nirbhaya’s case. The ‘derogatory remarks’ contained in this interview led the Indian government to ban the film. The remarks allegedly tarnish India’s image, they also display the ignorance and the illogical justification of the patriarchal beliefs embedded deep in our society.

It is an ethical issue, some say, because the convicted rapist is still appealing his conviction and the case is pending at the Supreme Court of India. Then there are others who feel that the documentary glorifies the rapist.

The ban led to a battle of opinions. The rapist and his defence lawyer’s comments are running on a loop on television channels and are being sensationalized. People are expressing shock and disbelief and the issue has been on primetime for a week. However, only a few are asking the question, why does it sound so familiar? Haven’t we been hearing what the rapist is saying over and over again from men around us?

Can we please use our energy to talk about how to fix the problem of rape?

Author: Roma Rajpal

Editor: Marjory Linardy



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08.03.2015 | 13:26