Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thoughts on BBC's "India's Daughter"


(**The documentary keeps being removed and put up again - in case the link is not working, go to youtube and search it**)

This morning the internet was buzzing with the free online release of the highly anticipated "India's Daughter" by BBC's Storyville program. All week there has been a huge debate going on prior to the release, because it showed a clip of the convicted rapist saying things like "a girl is far more responsible for rapes than a boy"; "When being raped, she shouldn't fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape". Therefore, it was banned on Indian TV stations....

Which makes me wonder why this film (which was made with / for the victim's parents; and really did the story justice) is banned, while many politicians can say exact parallels and face zero consequences. Politicians such as Vibha Rao who said that "women are equally as responsible for crimes against them"; or "spiritual guru" (who turned out to be an actual predatory serial rapist) Asaram Bapu, who said "the victim is as guilty as her rapists". Almost exact parallels, yet zero consequences! But sure, just ban the film then...

After seeing the documentary, it really was no different than what has been shown on Indian news channels. The only difference? A British director and a BBC documentary which is aired worldwide and makes the state of affairs in India look REALLY bad. Is that what all the fuss is about? Log kya kahenge?

Jyoti Singh's story hits close to home for me for many, many reasons. First and foremost because I am a woman, a gender viewed at by many as "the lesser sex". That too, I am a woman raising a daughter, who would like her to have a future in India as much as anywhere else. I remember being a young 20-something girl waltzing around India. Jyoti was the exact same age as my husband's cousin-sisters who are living at hostels and going to college. And the reality is that this crime could have happened to ANY woman. 

While watching the film, I cried within the first two minutes as Jyoti's parents (who are really amazing people, by the way) were describing her as a baby. I cried for them as a fellow parent. My heart hurt for them.

In the next 15 minutes, my sadness turned to anger as disgust when the rapist showed zero remorse, despite being sentenced to death and the public outcry against him. He seemed so soft spoken and harmless, but he had zero emotion. It was extremely difficult to watch this monster.

Even worse, was his defense lawyer who compared women to "diamonds" and "flowers" - at that point I literally felt sick to my stomach. To hear women, described by a man, as a lesser object rather than an equal human being. At that point, there was no difference between the "educated" lawyer and the "uneducated" rapist - the poisonous ingrained misogyny was the same, just a different face. From completely different backgrounds - but a common mindset...

As a parent raising a child - I fully know that children come into this world with a blank slate. Behaviors are unequivocally learned from parents and society - kids are a direct reflection of their environment. Seeing people speak like this made me wonder what environment they had come from - these men have been TAUGHT that women are less, that they should submit, that men should police women, that men do not face consequences, that men are uncontrollable and super-human.

Overall, I felt the documentary was very difficult to watch - yet absolutely necessary. The fact that it has made such an outrage just goes to show that it has served it's purpose. Documentaries don't follow a script - rather they illuminate real people and real stories, however shocking they are. That's the power of story telling. It is undeniable.

Instead of wasting energy by banning such a film, politicians should try to work on banning marital rape. Politicians should worry about making women's rights an actual priority, rather than pretending they don't exist. Right now, in Maharashtra, you can face 5 years in prison for eating beef, but you are legally allowed (one might even say even encouraged) to rape your own wife. What logic is that?

I mean, how bad does it have to get before things actually change? Back then, it was one of the worst news that I ever heard, having just become a mother myself. It has just been replaced by more and more of the same. Has anything really changed since December 16th, 2012? This film holds India accountable for that. If it takes international pressure to raise awareness about women's rights, then that's a win for ALL women.

Watching this film should be compulsory for ALL families (worldwide), so they can discuss it and instruct their kids to never speak like that - to never think like that - and why it is wrong. The misogynistic mindset must be completely abolished - from the very start.

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Dear readers, what did you think of the documentary?
Which parts did you think were powerful?
Do you think banning it is the answer?

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19 comments

  1. I totally agree. Perhaps part of the reason it was banned was because it was a British film? I find that Indians are VERY quick to defend their homeland from what foreigners say about it, even if it is something that the Indians agree with. Even my own husband criticizes India for it's many flaws, but when I say the exact same thing he does he jumps to India's defense! This is the reason why I choose to comment here anonymously, because on Facebook my husbands Indian relatives would see my comment and bombard me with messages that India is safe, India is wonderful, why are you so critical of India? This film is SO important and I think it really represents a turning point in India's history. Finally the people are fighting back, finally they are standing up for what is right, despite what traditional culture tells them! Jyoti and her family represents everything hopeful about India. Going against cultural norms, her family loved, cherished and supported her to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor. They refused to let society tell them their daughter was less than a boy. And the entire world now knows her story. India keep up the fight. Celebrate your daughters in honor of Jyoti.

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  2. Simply reading this makes me so upset.

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  3. I don't agree with you that kids come into this world with a blank slate, this is not what scientists and psychologists tell us. And I also think you should never underestimate personal responsability. Rather I have come to think that this is one bad point about Indian culture, that its traditions sometimes encourage lack of personal accountability.

    Clearly this rapist whose comments have been published worldwide is a sick sociopath and he needs to be severely punished and I hope the courts of India will do what has to be done. What a pity they can't cut his balls off and serve them to him in a curry sauce made with love by a diamond flower.

    I dont think I'll watch the documentary because I try not to watch any videos about horrible crimes, and there are so many right now around the world that it's becoming quite a challenge.

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  4. Watched this documentary last night. It is sad that such things happened but the way the docu revealed every bit of gory detail was intolerable. It was feeding frenzy of voyeur and I had to switch the telly to sheild my kids. The incident in itself was nerve wracking but this docu is outrageous.
    I welcome govts decision to ban this.

    M P Mukherji

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  5. Going home and watching it. I am very disappointed with our government's banning the documentary. They should use this to open dialogues and see how we can improve gender sensitivity in this country.

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  6. Dear sister (Madh Mama),
    reading your blogs it seems to me that you don't like boys (except few).i would be happy( if you make your blog genderless( i mean don't support all ways female, there are so many wife who do abuse their husband in india).Because of the shame the man can not report to any one. there should be strong law about violence,infidelity (i do believe this is the mother of all problem).
    As long as i remember there was a boy with that girl (Nirbhaya) he was badly beaten up but nobody talked about that. Everybody only concentrating about girls but nobody cares about boys …..why so!.do people think that brother/father/friend are not trying to save their loved one(girl). I think Boys or girls should not go anywhere where they do not feel safe …. One day I was in the market and one person was killed(innocent man) in a crossfire. And there was a small media report. If the person were women then everybody will shout. The weaker one always beaten by stronger one.strong women weak husband nobody cares.everybody will tell that husband to “man-up”.just go for this video——https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlFAd4YdQks
    government should make law to stop violence against man/women/boy/girl and terrorist attack.

    Now about the doc: if it would made by an indian then i had no problem. i hate british because british came as merchant and ruled this country (except few like Benedict Cumberbatch etc lol!).USA and Britain think that they are the Father and Mother of all country.( study NSA Spying)
    Now about the Beef:plz plz plz don't hit on our culture like that don,t mix one with another one.
    Now about the marital rape:i am not married :) and this is the thing i do not know nothing. in my small life i saw mom shout on dad and me and the reverse one too.but you know marital rape this one i will come to know after marriage ! :) . who rapes whom.!!!!!!!! :) but i am quite sure if i got raped my shout will go in vain :) :)
    last think: the rapist will be punish according to the law of India. i will not support that any foreigner (i did not consider you as forigner) to comment/do something on our any nation interest. we are only allowed to shout on it(i am really sorry for this comment). we will correct our problem by ourselves.
    ---------------
    can u address on these issue
    1.attack on indian grandfather in usa
    2.strip search of apj abdul kalam

    (sorry for my poor English)

    thanking you
    S Roy

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  7. Alex, I completly agree with the sadness and disgust you felt. The lawyers digust me . The quotes about the diamond and flower are so disgusting to me. They saw jyoti as some loose women who was asking to be raped. As if she deserved it because she dared to leave the house @SRoy I dont find her comments at all to be agaist men. Yes her companion was hurt. He did recover. Jyoti died! There is a difference. Rape Is a whole new level of invasion and abuse. That is why there is a feeling of shame associated with it. Life long depression. Why do you seek to decrease the importance of what happened to this girl? Why do you feel threatened that men are not being shown as being hurt. For the sake of your female family do you not want men shamed for raping, or are you so selfish you only care for men to look in a positive light. The victim is never to blame

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    1. Dear friend,
      do u think i am seeking to decrease the importance omg!- then sorry i have no intention like that.and where u find that i am supporting rapist.and where i blamed the victim.i just only told that anybody can be raped but the man who was raped/aboused is not coming into the light in india."For the sake of your female family do you not want men shamed for raping"- what i understood from this statement that man only raping the woman there is no opposite case is possible.Now just tell me if your father/brother is raped/abused by any female then people will laught at your father/brother and they will ask him to man up or not. i am just asking for strong law against any kind of violence/rape/abuse and it should be gender neutral .
      if my above statement hurt any of u then i am truly sorry ,sorry and sorry.and forgive me as your brother.

      I am just imagining that if any one try to hurt/disrespect my parents/brother/sister then i will find them and i will make them pay.
      "Why do you feel threatened that men are not being shown as being hurt." i will just tell that because of media, female friends it seems to me that all men are rapist no man loves/ respect women.in any family problem man is to be blame or outside people tell that. In my personal experience, i was about to fall inside bus (if u know indian traffic then u will know that how many times driver will push the break)and i hit a woman and she started to shout on me what she told, boys like us loves to touch and always looking for an excuse, i have no respect for women !!!!!!!!! etc can't she forgive me as his son?
      i just ask Alex to become more gender neutral so she can address the male problem too.
      one more thing if my above writing made decrease the importance of "Thoughts on BBC's "India's Daughter""/disrespect of women then alex should remove my comments.but still i will not support foreign country to take extra effort about our any problem.
      s roy

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    2. I understand how you might feel about the media making it sound as if all indian men are potential rapist. My own husband is indian and I worry as well that ppl will get the wrong idea. Being a women is a unique kind of fear. For example my husband can walk in the dark the most fear he has is being robbed. As a women I fear being raped. It is true men can be raped but it is not as common. I strongly support indias daughter because it shines the light on the darkness of rape and blaning the victim.

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    3. Hi sister,
      Now the status of Indian men these days in the eyes of world is "German professor rejects Indian male intern due to 'rape problem" now tell me will you use your blog to send the massage to the world that all Indian men are not rapist. BBC has done well job!!!! now we are all rapist (including your Indian husband !) and remaining world have no rape problem. BBC Documentary has shown the mentality of all Indian men(!) [how at list world will look at now at us] westerns are civilized, middle east are terrorist, Indians are rapist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.
      http://ibnlive.in.com/news/german-professor-rejects-indian-intern-due-to-rape-problem/532956-3.html
      thanking u
      s roy :-(

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  8. I watched this documentary last night, wondering in the back of my mind as I did, whether the Indian government would also ban "India's Daughter's" on YouTube as they did the AIB Roast. Having watched the documentary, I have no idea why the government is in such a tizzy. Do they want the documentary makers to lie? Cover up facts? We all know the rape occurred. We all know what the rapists did. We all know what people (politicians and non-politicians alike) spouted. The documentary isn't really talking about anything that hasn't already happened and isn't already known. One does not need to watch this documentary to know that the attitude of a rapist from a deeply patriarchal culture could be anything but this!

    And to that damned lawyer- I am NOT a diamond- I am NOT a thing- I am a human being. Enough with this flower/diamond/thorn nonsense.

    I am also thoroughly sick of this "what will people say?" attitude. Who the heck cares? Fix what is very seriously, thoroughly, and deeply wrong before wondering about what others (especially "foreigners"- because isn't that the real issue here?) will think.

    Raina.

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  9. @Alexadra

    This particular incident was very traumatic. The severity of the crime shook every sensitive. It could have been anyone that's what many people felt. The protests and the constant media coverage was overwhelming. It was as if a dark cloud of despair hung over the city. I personally felt uneasy for many days. It was moment of introspection for the entire society. It did start a debate on women's issues which was much needed. There have been many incidents after that but this incident is etched in our collective memory. It is a moral spear embedded in our conscience.

    In this background, when this documentary came out the old wounds came alive. We perhaps did not want to revisit the incident again. In the first instant, it was as if the memory of the girl was disgraced. People were agitated that the criminal was given this platform to air his disgraceful views. The obvious question was why he is still alive. It was a not about the BBC or "log kya kahange". The initial reaction was a spontaneous outrage. What will the world think came late. It is a very normal human reaction. We try to block out painful memories. Even societies do that. The Japanese still have problems with what they did during the Second World War. It is a difficult thing and I think that Indians need some time to deliberate over it and find a suitable solution.

    I saw the documentary. There was nothing wrong although I felt that the graphic description was not needed. This is discussion on this issue on one of the indian channels. People are already discussing about it and this issues needs more deliberations.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QesB-ITlYsQ


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    1. Yes, it also made me think why the rapists are still alive - they look healthy, well-fed, well-rested, it made me mad.....while Jyoti is gone and her parents are just suffering. It was hard to watch.
      I am glad that we got to hear more about her life, rather than just focusing on her as a victim. It made her even more relatable. The description of the crime was also very difficult to watch.

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  10. Please share your opinion at http://www.movietalkr.com/movies/india-s-daughter-a-documentary-46 , rate and review the documentary to show your support against its ban in india.

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  11. Hey Alexandra....I left you this link on your FB page, but this is definitely the post to add it to:

    http://brajasorensen.com/2015/03/07/being-a-woman-in-india/

    There's so much to be said and I tire of the amount of back and forth about such a basic subject.....thanks for posting this...

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  12. I am INDIAN.
    " Right now, in Maharashtra, you can face 5 years in prison for eating beef, but you are legally allowed (one might even say even encouraged) to rape your own wife."
    Being a Cow is far better than women in India according to some politician and some men.


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  13. Actually The woman made this film did break lots rules during making , If any Indian would done that in UK , US she would have been in jail by now. But western White Racism works here for her . She took permission for "Study" purpose without commercial benefits but covertly contacted Rapist paid him
    40000 Rs yes She paid Rapist , Glamorized Rapist and earning Money and fame on dead Raped girl. .
    This was Never A "Ban" on movie It's courts Restraining Order .

    This movie is not about the girl raped , this about Filmmaker who wants to earn money and Fame.

    She had attitude of "White Saviour" even she made nasty Racist comments .

    Only Alive witness of Crime Boyfriend of that girl who was Brutally assaulted that night trying save his girlfriend Slammed movie called movie ... "Fake"



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  14. I think it's interesting to read the comments about the "unnecessary" gory details of her rape and murder. As if people only want to hear the story as long as it is comfortable for them to hear. Jyoti's story is one of extreme violence and horror. Turning your face away from it is the same as turning away from her. She needs the world to know exactly what happened to her so that justice can be served and the world can rise up in disgust and finally demand change. Certainly it is uncomfortable and shocking. But change is always uncomfortable, especially for a country so deeply rooted in their culture. Glossing over details that you find gory is an injustice to her suffering. Look the crime fully in the eye and demand justice.

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