Film maker Leslee Udwin’s documentary titled “India’s Daughter” was recently released on YouTube and has been the subject of much controversy ever since. The high amount of attention that the documentary has seen all this while is not only because it is based on the highly sensitive and soul stirring incident of Nirbhaya’s rape case, but also because the Indian government sought to ban its release in India, saying it was a sensitive issue and does not bring about a good impression of the country.
The problem with this issue exists in multiple levels. The problem is not only with the neo politic “White man’s burden” manifesting itself in a decolonized world, but also of the over bearing stamp of censorship that curtails a particular kind of political thought to pervade into the public sphere.
Since time immemorial, patriarchy has sought to enslave women in roles of motherhood, sisterhood, and daughterhood as ways of legitimising the restrictions put upon them.
The very first problem that catches my eye is the title of the documentary, which mentions “daughters”.For example, “You’re a single mother of 40 years age. How can you go out partying alone at night?” By using relationships and moral codes of conduct as the sole criterion to define a woman’s identity, and by naming a woman with her father’s and subsequently husband’s stamp surname, we have very gradually and efficiently developed what the defence lawyer of Nirbhaya rapists M.L. Sharma called “the best culture in the world”, where we have “no place for women”
The women of India, are not India’s daughters, they’re people, they’re human beings without any burdens of imposed relationships upon them. One of the most vehement protests by Feminists across the world have been against the use of statements like ,”she is somebody’s mother/daughter/sister, think before harassing her”. Point being, she doesn’t deserve respect because she is someone’s mother/daughter/sister, but because she is someone, and that is enough to give her the dignity she deserves in a civil society.
When M.L. Sharma says that women are precious diamonds that need to be protected, he’s doing nothing but projecting the rather perverse mentality of patriarchy that reduces women to objects that need protection and care because through social conditioning you’ve made them realise they can’t take care of themselves alone and will be always dependent on a man for financial, emotional and physical support. This highly hypo critic stance is disguised in the form of chivalry that romanticises the figure of Knight in shining armour because women influenced by patriarchy are ready to become the Damsels in distress.
Yes, statistics point towards the increasing cases of rape and a large female population of the country faces exploitation in various modes and disguises, but that does’t take away the individuality of the woman and neither does that make her a daughter of the country.
This according to me is the primary problem of patriarchy-it affects women as much as men, and in such a way that they don’t realise the point when they themselves become the spokespersons for the ideology out there to bring civilised society to its ruins.Speaking of civilised society, another issue that irked me was the launch of the global campaign of India’s Daughters with the core issue being this documentary.
Why is a global campaign being launched in India’s name?
While we may argue that women in India are far better off than women in Islamic States, or the cases of wife beating in USA are more than in Europe, it is not the way to go. We’re not competing for tragedy. The solution is not to focus upon one country. Patriarchy is a universal plague. Models campaigning for size zero in Paris is as obscene as a family demanding dowry in India.
The white countries have assumed a burden upon themselves to civilise this exotic Eastern land of India. Udwin called the nirbhaya uprising as India’s Arab Spring. No, this is not India’s Arab Spring, this is India’s own coming of age movement. Cultural appropriation that transcends geographical boundaries to the extent that it ignores the subjectivities of different subaltern cultures and seeks to define one always in relation with the other is problematic in a new colonial set up.
The solution is not to put blanket assumptions about the men of India being rape friendly and but rather opening up a larger debate on cross cultural parameters that determine the growth of patriarchal mentalities and how in every country and culture there should be different ways to curb these anti social elements, rather than putting India in the limelight as the country symbolising exploitation of women
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