(Published in The Huffington Post India : http://www.huffingtonpost.in/shaira-mohan/ )
I am the eldest of three and when I was born back in 1986, the news of the birth of a girl was like receiving the news of a death to a majority of the masses. So, when my father proudly announced my birth in the hospital, he wasn’t very surprised to have hospital staff come over to him, pat him on the back and say ‘koi na’ (never mind) or other such utterances of reassurance.
There was also no surprise when my brother was born three years later in the same hospital and the rejoicing and celebration was – lets just say – another level. And another three years down the line came my sister with the same half hearted pat on the back.
Since time immemorial, the words ‘its a girl‘ have carried such a taboo in our Indian culture and society, both rural and urban to a great extent, that we seem to have etched this in the mental make up of our people right from birth – women are inferior, women are only good for bearing children, looking after the house, cooking, cleaning and supporting their superior counterparts – men. Sadly, even to this day and age, the girl child still suffers the same plight and it increasingly seems like there is no silver lining ahead in this very dark cloud.
Much is being said, debated, written, expressed and lashed out against the recent documentary made by Leslee Udwin, the courageous film maker who took it upon herself to create this documentary which took two years to complete and which contains the story of how a young, ambitious, admirable medical student was brutally, gang raped by six men in a bus in Delhi in 2012. The story that shook the very fabric of humanity and brought a shocked and outraged nation out on the street to protest against this heinous, inconceivable crime.
A story that our government, our so called leaders, are trying to suppress by placing a ban on the film instead of opening their eyes and minds to the very urgent need of the hour – the very very important and mandatory need for each and every person to SEE this film – to see with their own eyes and be AWARE of the gravity of the danger every woman faces today. Eminent figures like Javed Akhtar, Kirron Kher who expressed their well worded concerns in the Parliament and writers like Shobha De and many others have rightly pointed out that the true need of the hour is to educate our young men right from the grass root level – show such documentaries right from the school level and educate young men from the beginning about the importance of RESPECTING, PROTECTING AND COEXISTING with women rather than treating them as objects to empower, violate and gratify themselves with as and when they please and then dispose of after use like a dirty handkerchief.
A friend wrote in her blog – ‘It is time to save the boy child from becoming a rapist.’ There is no bigger truth than this. This society, this government, the people – we need to stop blaming women with idiotic statements like ‘women should not step out at night’ or ‘women should not dress a certain way’. Come on, we all know that women who wear a salwar kameez are being raped as much as a woman who wears a pair of jeans or a dress. Instead why don’t we concentrate on the real problem – the men and their mentality! Teach them to respect women as soon as they emerge from their mothers wombs! (Anyone else see the irony here?) STOP trying to hide this courageous and much needed documentary film from being shown to the public!! IT NEEDS TO BE SEEN – AWARENESS IS THE KEY, NOT THE LOCK!!
As far as the rapists themselves are concerned, judging by the documentary I watched this morning – I think the most worrying aspect of all is how bold, undeterred and unrepentant they clearly are and how easily and unabashedly they blame Nirbhaya, the rape victim for struggling and not succumbing quietly to her fate. I mean, there are no words for this line of thinking.
Except that there are many, many more men out there with this twisted mentality, probably emboldened by these six criminals to bring more women to similar ends as Nirbhaya, (possibly but inconceivably even worse fates) and India as a society, its government, its authority figures, its men, women, media, educators – my appeal to you is to PLEASE RECOGNIZE and address the REAL issue here – EDUCATE young men, CHANGE mindsets, PUNISH instead of delaying justice, RESPECT and PROTECT women instead of suppressing them.
And don’t say it is not possible because it is! It is possible if the effort is made by parents, teachers to drill the importance of respecting women in their boys from day one. The government, instead of hiding their faces and evidence like this documentary should conduct awareness lectures and campaigns in schools and colleges, even in the curriculum in rural and urban India to spread this awareness. Why should only the women have to be given lectures and carry fear and pepper spray with them whenever they venture out at night and be blamed for being attacked and rape? While the man walks away scot free with a smirk on his face and the gall to say ‘its her fault, why was she out at this time?’
No. This needs to stop now. And WE have the power to stop it.
The defence lawyer in the Nirbhaya case says ‘ Indian culture has no place for women.’ Sir, with this mentality YOU have no place in this profession or in Indian culture.