Why We Need to Watch Leslee Udwin's Documentary India's Daughter

05/03/2015 8:23 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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An illogical, misguided outrage has gripped India. Indignant people are railing against a rapist given primetime TV slots, so the country can know his point of view. How is it -- angry people are demanding -- that channels be so TRP hungry, they're willing to allow this disturbed man's innermost thoughts be broadcast on TV? What do they hope to get from this, other than insult the memory of the one who has been immortalised (against her wishes) as India's Braveheart? #nirbhayainsulted they hashtagged, when we gave her rapist so much publicity.

So, you are outraged that a documentary on rapists has been made, and is being broadcast. You, and your sensibilities, count themselves among luminaries in the feminist movement, the government, other activists and lawyers. You think the FIR filed by the police saying this film "contains offensive content which should not be broadcast in the interest of maintaining public order," is absolutely correct, and this kind of free publicity should not be given to rapists, to avoid copycat crimes.

But do you know what outraged me more than a rapist saying, "she should not have fought back when she was raped"? The fact that this man thought women in India were made for housework, and housekeeping, and roaming in discos and bars at night was wrong.

What shocked me more than this rapist/monster/demon being interviewed on primetime TV, was that his lawyer -- a man NOT in jail so we can't automatically demonise him as a criminal and bay for his head in a noose -- compared the victim, and by association every woman on the streets of this godforsaken country, to sweets on a streets getting eaten by dogs.

These are not views held by psychopathic killers, dear offended people. These are views held, in varying degrees of militancy, by a majority of this country. Which is why the rapist has, as Leslee Udwin stated, no remorse. He doesn't think he and his friends did anything wrong that night, because the girl was asking for it... doing the wrong things, wearing the wrong clothes.

women self defence india

Instead of being insulted that this British journalist doesn't want to make films on rapists from her own country, and trying to hide from (and hide) the horrors of this man's mind, should we not try to understand why rape happens? No amount of foreign aid towards women's causes, laws, or death penalties on one level, and advise to cover up, not be on the streets at night alone, self-defence classes and safety apps on another, will help us if we don't exhume the problem. Men, and their sense of male-ness.

How about for once we turn the focus around. We talk about men, the rapists, the law makers, the police. We address everyday misogyny in men, both conscious and unconscious, so they learn to be less like the "thorns" that attack the "lovely flowers" that are women. Those are analogies from the defence attorney himself, I kid you not.

As a woman I am sick of having to take on all the responsibility of protecting myself. I am sick of apps that help me get home safe, and aid to save the girl child. I am sick of self-defence classes, and CCTV cameras. I am sick of mace, and pepper spray.

"It's time to Save the Boy Child -- from becoming a rapist"

Educate men to stop raping. Put money into that. But before we do that, let's understand what makes men and society at large, think that it's okay for women to bear brunt of saving ourselves against assault, with a series of preventive measures that hinder our lives.

Why should men not be banned from walking the streets? Why are they considered so uncontrollable? Men are also intelligent beings who can think, read, learn and understand. We don't live in a jungle, with unpredictable animals. And even animals have rules.

It's time campaigns were aimed solely at them. It's time to Save the Boy Child -- from becoming a rapist, at the worst, or a misguided friend insisting you shouldn't leave work late at night, at the best.

And it's only through documentaries like India's Daughter that we will be able to begin understanding how a rapist's mind works, what propels him to act in such a way, what his context is.

I am sick of bandaid measures. I want to watch that documentary. I want to understand why rapes, sexual assaults and harassment happens. What drives men across our country to commit these crimes, every single day? Why is violence against women such a huge problem, with no cure in sight?

And then after this understanding, I want a solution to these problem. So stop wasting time in parliament, oh hallowed MP, stop wasting air time with your indignant shouting, oh, over excited anchor, and let's get real work done. And dear well intentioned police, the only offence you are causing by filing FIRs to ban the film, is to women. By letting men like him remain hidden, almost protected by law, and prison. Let the world know how insane he is. Let every crevice of his mind be dissected and discussed, and only then can we find a cure to this malady.

Like a rare angry, pro-documentary tweet said, "We need a change in mindsets." But mindset kaun change karega? Mera sasur?" They aren't wrong though. Change does begin at home, instead of at ridiculous hashtags like #NirbhayaInsulted.

And since we are talking for her, I think Nirbhaya, instead of being insulted would be proud to know some steps are being taken towards solving our country's very disturbing problems of rape and violence against women, from it's roots. From the insides of a man's mind.

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