Interviewing The Rapist Of Nirbhaya Is Not Voyeurism But Sharad Yadav Gesticulating In The Rajya Sabha On The Body Shape Of South Indian Women Definitely Is
In death Nirbhaya has evoked more public sympathy than in living. It is this profound interest in the case of Nirbhaya—a para-medic student from Delhi who was gang raped on December 16th 2012—that led the British film-maker Leslee Udwin to produce the documentary “India’s Daughter”. Banning of the documentary, “India’s Daughter’’ amounts to a restraint on the freedom of expression. I, therefore, do not support the ban. Leslee Udwin says in DNA, “My prediction is that the ban will not last very long at all because the country’s courts are not puppets of the Government and civilised values will return.” It is easy to see that the Ministers who are portraying themselves as custodians of self-righteousness and actively seeking the documentary’s ban are actually doing it to gain political mileage and media limelight. Making a statement in both houses of Parliament, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that No Objection Certificate to shoot the documentary was issued by the Home Ministry in 2013. Joint Secretary to Home Ministry, Suresh Kumar, had given a letter to the makers of the documentary saying that the government did not have any objection for shooting the documentary in high security prison. Giving the permission to shoot the documentary and then wanting to ban it only exposes the hypocrisy and double standards of our politicians.
After the Nirbhaya gang rape, Verma Committee was set up which brought 10 important proposals for women’s safety. But did this stop rapes? No it did not. After the Nirbhaya rape, there was another rape incident of Sheetal Mill gang rape case in Mumbai. We are setting up committees after committees, passing one law after another, but all this has been unsuccesful in stopping violence against women. Every year we ostentatiously celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th. For that one day there are empty rhetorics on women empowerment which are forgotten for the rest of the year when women continue to be battered. Leslee Udwin rightly chose to telecast the documentary on International Women’s Day to expose these atrocities which women suffers in India. There is nothing wrong in that. Even as I am writing this article the gang rape of a 71-year-old nun in Kolkata shocked the nation. Media as a watchdog exposes what it sees—the good and the ugly, virtue and vice. With a robust realism to ban the documentary would mean an infringement on the rights of the media. Life is not always of soft shades of pink and white, there are black shades too and exposing the dark shades in our society is realism and journalists have to do it fearlessly.
The stark reality is that our women police personnel do not have separate toilets in police stations. Women travelling to work in trains are subjected to abuses from drug addicts and eunuchs because there is not enough police patrolling. But for VVIPs, police are always at their beck and call. After the Uber cab rape case, it has become unsafe for women to travel alone in cabs or auto rickshaws. Instead of banning the documentary, politicians should address these serious issues related to women’s safety. But that is not being done. I guess it is easier to ban a documentary than to address the real issues pertaining to women’s safety. As for India’s stature being tarnished in International circles I do not agree with this. According to Shobhaa De in the Times of India, “Every country has its quota of shameful incidents.’’ Violence against women is becoming a global phenomena. Just last week an Indian IT professional was stabbed in Sidney while she was taking a walk. The producer of the documentary herself is a rape victim. Her aim was to expose the perverted mindset of a rapist, not to glamourise the issue as some have wrongly perceived. The ban on the film has only increased people’s curiosity to see more of it. Instead of banning the documentary we should ban the perverted mindset of politicians like Mulayam Singh who support rapists and wantonly say, “Boys will be boys, mistakes do happen sometimes for which they should not be hanged.”
According to lyricist Javed Akhtar, if anyone finds the documentary objectionable “they should change their mindset”. But changing mindset is the most complex issue to address but herein lies the key—the awareness to stop violence against women. I however don’t have much hope in changing the insensitive, gender-biased mindset of many of the men in our country. Just the other day when an important debate on the Insurance Bill was being discussed in the Rajya Sabha, senior JD-U leader Sharad Yadav deviating from the topic of Insurance Bill started making sexist remarks on the dusky complexion and bodies of south Indian women. I saw him on the T.V gesticulating crassly of the bodies of south Indian Women. What was worse was that other Parliamentarians, including Ravi Shankar Prasad from the BJP were also shamelessly laughing at Sharad Yadav’s comments. What is shocking is the fact that Sharad Yadav refused to apologise for his vulgar comments. Leslee Udwin interviewing Mukesh Singh, the rapist of Nirbhaya, is not voyeurism. Sharad Yadav gesticulating on the body shape of South Indian Women in the Rajya Sabha definitely is and Sharad Yadav has been given the Best Parliamentarian Award. This is our India. Do not ban “India’s Daughter” instead ban the perverted mindset of our politicians.
By Indira Satyanarayan