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March 20, 2015

Nirbhaya - India's Daughter?

The documentary India's Daughter was aired by BBC this month and quickly withdrawn in response to the objections raised by the government of india. I think many more saw it because of the media publicity and the big hue and cry. The brutal rape of a girl renamed Nirbhaya (fearless) a year ago in New Delhi, the capital of our country, had seared public memory. The documentary has brought it back to public consciousness, created headlines and raised many more issues.

Should the documentary have been banned? Is it in bad taste? Does it distort facts? Is it intended to belittle India? In my view, the answer is NO.

Every single person - young or old -  whom I have spoken to, found the documentary rivetting and a big jolt to our collective conscience. At a Women's Day gathering of young men and women that I addressed, all had seen the documentary and with one voice agreed that it should be universally aired.

Typical of those supporting the ban is this article  by an Indian journalist. In response, I wrote the following:

Apparently, the main objective of this article is to criticise the BBC for airing this documentary and to justify the ban. Mahapatra says that the documentary raises several questions of irresponsibility, but mentions only two. Neither of his stated reasons hold water. Let's take them one by one.

The first one is at 16 minutes is an interview with the convicted bus driver. Voyeuristic? No way. Nothing could have been more effective in conveying the horror of the crime than this man's remorseless demeanour and blunt words. Why is it irresponsible journalism?

The second objection is at 53 minutes, when the same convict expresses deplorable views to justify why his judicial sentence should not be carried out. Nobody is likely to be shocked or influenced to commit similar crimes! Many who saw the documentary before BBC blocked it, believe that this interview as also the lawyers' statements, convey a hard-hitting message. Let's not blame the messenger, but face the bitter truth.

Violence is unacceptable; violence against women is doubly so. The wagging heads and pointing fingers rub salt in the wounds and seek to perpetuate patriarchal social norms without any attempt to change attitudes. The sad truth is that this is not a problem in India alone. For example, see  this article  about the murder of a schoolgirl in Australia, a *modern* and *developed* country. We're in the 21st century, but nowhere near to being a truly egalitarian society.


Winston said...

Hello Rhoda.

Nirbhaya (fearless) is the misnomer of all time. Who told anybody that she was fearless? NOBODY can be "fearless" under the brutality she suffered.

The government and most unfortunately the media chooses to turn a Nelson's eye to the thousands of girls who face that same brutality every day of their lives, in the so-called "Red Light" areas of Mumbai and every other major city in India and the world. "Nirbhaya" died in excruciating agony, but within a few days. May her soul find rest. But let this not close our eyes to the hundreds of women who face worse situations, and continue to live, if that can be called living.


Rhoda D said...


Misnomer is right! The reality is that women ought to be fearless, but are constrained by society to keep looking over their shoulders.

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