I am the eldest of three and when I was born back in 1986, the news of the birth of a girl was like receiving the news of a death to a majority of people. So, when my father proudly announced my birth in the hospital, he wasn't very surprised to have hospital staff come over to him, pat him on the back and say "koi na" (never mind) or other such utterances of reassurance.
There was also no surprise when my brother was born three years later in the same hospital and the rejoicing and celebration was, let's just say, at another level. And another three years down the line came my sister with the same half-hearted pat on the back.
Since time immemorial, the words "it's a girl" have carried such a taboo in our Indian culture and society--both rural and urban, to a great extent--that we seem to have etched this in the mental make-up of our people right from birth: women are inferior, they are only good for bearing children, looking after the house, cooking, cleaning and supporting their superior counterparts--men. Sadly, even in this day and age, the girl child still suffers the same plight.
Much is being said, debated, written, expressed, critiqued about the recent documentary made by Leslee Udwin, the courageous film maker who took it upon herself to tell the story of how a young woman was brutally gangraped by six men on a Delhi bus in 2012. The incident brought a shocked and outraged nation out on the streets to protest against this heinous, inconceivable crime and against how women are treated in general.
And now our government is trying to suppress India's Daughter by placing a ban on the film instead of opening their eyes and minds to the very urgent need of the hour. It is important, and I'd even say mandatory, for each and every person to SEE this film--to see with their own eyes and be AWARE of the gravity of the danger every woman faces today. Eminent figures like Javed Akhtar, Kirron Kher, Shobhaa De and many others have pointed out that we desperately need to educate our young men. I think we should show such documentaries right from the school level to teach young men the importance of respecting and coexisting with women rather than treating them as objects to use or violate.
A friend wrote in her blog, "It is time to save the boy child from becoming a rapist." There is no bigger truth than this. This society, this government and people need to stop blaming women with idiotic statements about how "women should not step out at night" or "women should not dress a certain way". Instead why don't we concentrate on the real problem--the men and their mentality! Teach them to respect women as soon as they emerge from their mother's womb (anyone else see the irony here?). STOP trying to hide this brave and much-needed documentary film from being shown to the public! IT NEEDS TO BE SEEN - AWARENESS IS THE KEY, NOT THE LOCK!!
The most worrying revelation in the film is how bold, undeterred and unrepentant the rapists clearly are, and how easily and unabashedly they blame Nirbhaya, the rape victim for struggling and not succumbing quietly to her fate. There are many, many more men out there with this twisted mentality, probably emboldened by these six criminals to bring more women to similar ends as Nirbhaya. My appeal to India, to its society, government, its authority figures, its media, its educators is to please recognise and address the REAL issue here. EDUCATE young men, CHANGE mindsets, PUNISH instead of delaying justice, RESPECT and PROTECT women instead of suppressing them.
And don't say it is not possible because it is! It is possible if the effort is made by parents and teachers to drill the importance of respecting women in their boys from day one. The government should conduct awareness lectures and campaigns in schools and colleges, even in the curriculum in rural and urban India to spread this awareness. Why should only the women have to be given lectures and carry fear and pepper spray with them and be blamed for being attacked and rape? While the man smirks, "It's her fault, why was she out at this time?"
No. This needs to stop now. And WE have the power to stop it.
The defence lawyer in the Nirbhaya case says Indian culture has no place for women. Sir, with this mentality YOU have no place in this profession or in Indian culture.
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