Gender equality in India seems like a distant dream with crimes against women on the rise. According to the 2014 data of the Government of India, that documents total number of crimes against women in every state, the numbers are both appalling and depressing at the same time. Andhra Pradesh alone has 16,512 cases of crimes against women, that includes rape, gangrape, domestic violence, dowry related incidents. Assam has over 19,000 cases, Gujarat over 10,000, Madhya Pradesh 28,000, Maharashtra 26,000, Rajasthan 31,000. And these are just documented numbers. There are many voices that get stifled and never make it to such censuses.
The numbers are horrifying, yet nothing is being done. Absolutely nothing. Jisha, a girl from Kerala was raped this month with her intestines pulled out. Champa Chettri, a girl from Assam was raped and burnt alive. The question that needs to be raised is – why is it taking India so long to wake up even after the 2012 gangrape of Nirbhaya (Jyoti Singh)?
The Supreme Court, just this week, questioned the allocation of Rs. 3,000 crore for a Nirbhaya fund and why the Government has failed to frame any plans around it, even after allocating such a huge amount. The question is – are we willing to accept that there is gender inequality in India?
In 2015, a documentary called ‘India’s Daughter’ released, that documented Nirbhaya (Jyoti Singh’s) parents statements on their daughter’s heinous 2012 rape, and the rapists too gave their statements on the same. The documentary showed India that rape is very much a part of ‘Indian’ culture and keeping women subservient to men and tolerating rape is something that needs to immediately change, through reform.
Lawyers in the documentary referred to women as ‘diamonds’ who have to be protected and kept at home. The rapist expressed no remorse for what he had done. It is unfortunate that India banned the documentary, that could have opened the flood for dialogue on how patriarchy is steeped deep in the Indian mindset, and how there is a need to reform existing laws to fight vices like rape and make India a more gender-equal society.
A year has passed since the release of the film, and the ban remains. But the need for dialogue remains constant. Being Indian reached out to the director of India’s Daughter, Leslee Udwin, and she spoke to Being Indian fans yesterday for nearly an hour, clarifying myths around her documentary and speaking out about the need to fight patriarchy in a country like India, that has an opportunity to lead by example, but is running away from the reality.
We have collated 10 most powerful quotes from the live session, that are not only powerful, but will force everyone to think and re-think their opinions on the Nirbhaya rape and position of women in Indian society.
1On being asked as to why she feels the ban on the documentary is wrong:
2On why she believes the documentary needs India’s support, because it takes about a very important global issue:
3On being asked whether India’s daughter was a BBC propaganda to show India in a bad light, she replied:
4Why Indians should accept that rape is a rampant part of Indian culture and not run away from that fact:
5Why there is a need for social reformation, more than legal reformation:
6On being asked if there are double standards in Indian society, she pointed out the blatant hypocrisy:
7On being asked why she only picked India and no other country for her documentary:
8She pointed out that the Indian Constitution is greater than the American one, primarily because we have article 14, that guarantees equal rights for all genders, made by the enigmatic Dr. Ambedkar
9How she saw passion and commitment for change in India, because of which she chose Nirbhaya as the subject of her documentary:
10She opened up about her personal experience with rape, urging other women to report such cases and not fear shame, much ingrained in them through patriarchy:
Here’s the trailer of Udwin’s powerful film ‘India’s Daughter’, that is unfortunately unable to reach out to India’s masses. Here’s hoping the political issues surrounding the film is resolved, so that its impact can be larger than what it currently is: