Misrepresented or misinterpreted?
By Chitwan Khosla, Features Editor
On September 16, 2012, six men in Delhi, India, raped a young paramedical student in a moving bus. She was then thrown off the moving bus naked and dying, along with a male friend who was also beaten black and blue.
The news shook the nation and horrified the world. There was enormous public outcry all across the country. Thousands took to streets and protested against the act. This public movement against the government is what inspired and encouraged Leslee Udwin, a renowned producer and director, to make a documentary about this incident. She directed and produced the controversial documentary India’s Daughter, which was banned by Indian government on March 4, 2015, but BBC Four refused to comply with it and aired the documentary, and also uploaded it to YouTube, making it accessible for millions of Indians as well.
What makes me write about this today is that I belong to the same society and people who were raped, who protested, and who now want the documentary banned. Government officials, politicians, and few others felt that the documentary misrepresents Indian society and claims it to be “an international conspiracy to defame India.”
Let me clearly and emphatically state this: this documentary shows the reality and the true mindset of Indian men and it’s not a misrepresentation of social stigmas that prevail there. But there may arise misinterpretations as it doesn’t show the whole picture but only misogyny in every aspect of Indian life. In the documentary, Mukesh Singh, one of the convicted rapists, says, “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 at night. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.”
Some people argued that these rapists are poor, illiterate, unruly, and have always seen women doing just household chores. Therefore, they do not see what the educated youth and people of the country are really like. If this is so, then these people should ask themselves why the very educated, well-mannered lawyers of rapists who work with female colleagues, and who are significantly richer than most, think like the rapists.
One of them remarked, “Ours is a beautiful culture. It has no place for women.” But the culture has great respect for women; it is the people’s thinking that needs to change. I have enjoyed all the love, care, and respect as a girl in India like many others. India wept for its daughter. When people learned that Singh is remorseless and said that the girl shouldn’t have resisted the rape, they again openly came out demanding immediate hanging of the rapists.
The ban on the documentary is, however, a blunder. It has flaws and lacks the perspective of the victim. It also doesn’t really tell you how India views Jyoti Singh, the victim of this rape, as someone other than a daughter when she was alive. She became a metaphor for hope only after death, but still every Indian should get to see it, especially the men and young boys. This will definitely stir emotions and bring the harsh reality to the surface. These men should know that if they objectify women then they are no different than those rapists. After all, if the rape victim was India’s daughter, rapists are also India’s sons.
Watch the documentary, but don’t make misconceptions about the country. There is much more beneath this shallow skin for show.