Mar 8: It is an irony that the much talked about controversial documentary “India’s daughter” was scheduled to be broadcast to coincide with International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8, every year the world over. Amidst the acrimonious war of words between those who support its ban by the government and those who oppose it the BBC brought forward and relayed the documentary on 4th March 2015 to the British audience. The channel claimed that three hundred thousand people watched the UK broadcast and it received 32 complaints with only four supporting it.
On hindsight, I believe we to have to accept the documentary film maker’s contention that it was her effort to create global campaign against rape in the backdrop of India fighting gender inequality citing Nirbhaya’s case as an example. However, the shocking aspect of this sordid episode which has now come to light is that this convicted rapist was allegedly paid Rs. 40,000 for eliciting information, which takes away much of the sheen of Leslie Udwin’s bona fide intentions.
The way the people reacted to the brutal rape assault on Nirbhaya was indeed extraordinary and commendable, no doubt. It was an incident not to be treated cavalierly by any right thinking individual because it stirred our collective consciousness and we responded with a sense of responsibility. It became a movement in our fight against gender inequality that has come to be accepted as a normal occurrence and we expected a slow change in our mindset.
Let us now come out of above thought process and see whether there has been a change in our thinking, behaviour or attitude towards women, their position in the society or to rape victims per se. All of us need to ask this question because Nirbhaya’s rape incident stirred our emotions, conscious, empathy and made us sit up and take notice of how brutal or savagery men can be and how antediluvian their mind sight is towards women. But our emotions fell short of a similar kind of reaction or movement if not more, when other brutal rape incidents came to the fore since the Nirbhaya incident. Has anything changed since December 2012?
The most recent one is the cruel and dreadful rape of a mentally challenged woman in Haryana by eight men on February 6, 2015. The post mortem results found that she was gang raped, tortured, mutilated, murdered. Doctors found her sexual parts stuffed with 16 cm long stick, stones and condoms. Her anus was filled with stones and doctors said it was brutal than the Nirbhaya rape case. No doubt rape is a rape but the degree of brutality inflicted on a rape victim clearly shows that there are men with a sadistic rotten mindset, which is nothing but an incurable disease. Despite the brutality that was widely reported in the media, we the people who were so moved, angered, agitated by the Nirbhaya episode, were apathetic to the Haryana incident as if it was something that has to be accepted as a normal occurrence. Soon the incident has gone out of our minds. Why this indifference within a matter of two years when we should have been even more loud and enthusiastic in our actions and efforts?
In fact our movement or agitation against such sick mindset (we have no right to call them beasts because that would be an insult to the animals) should have widened its frame. Our fight should have been against the systematic rape culture prevalent in our society and the denial of the basic rights and self respect to women. Our fight should have been vociferous against people like the defence lawyers of the convicts of Nirbhaya rapists and many others like them who may look may look like normal well groomed individuals but harbour only malice and a misogynist attitude.
These ‘educated’ lawyers and others like them are a disgrace to our society and our fight should have been against a medieval, barbaric crude and insensate mindset of men. This mindset in fact is equally or even much more dangerous than the actual rape itself. Our efforts should have been directed to douse with petrol this very attitude of male chauvinism rampant in our society. We needed to focus our attention on these misplaced priorities rather than crying hoarse about what Mukesh Singh has said. Because there are so many Mukesh Singhs in our country who harbour equally savagery thoughts similar to the ones expressed by him which have achieved normalcy. Frankly speaking I am not sure what we really need to do to bring about this attitudinal change we are talking about.
We only hope the juvenile who will get away from jail in a few months after completing his 3 year sentence will be ‘reformed’ completely repenting his acts of brutality and become a normal citizen to lead an average life. Let us pray the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014 that has reduced the age of juvenile from 18 to 16 will soon become a law so that we don’t allow juvenile criminals get away with gruesome acts of violence.
Every year we celebrate International women’s day with great fanfare. What do we have to celebrate on International Women’s Day except highlighting the courage of women who have exhibited extraordinary audacity to fight against powerful men like Tejpal, A K Ganguly and Pachuri to name a few – men who were held in high esteem until their mindset and acts of sexual offences were exposed. We need to salute and celebrate the fortitude shown by these daughters of India. There might be many more wolf in sheep’s clothing occupying high positions and enjoying name and fame and we need many more daring women to expose their ‘shame’. Nirbhaya incident was only the beginning. We need to continue our efforts with the same fervour to bring even an iota of change.