By V. Arun Kumar, Countercurrents.org
I recently watched the BCC’s documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ made by LesleeUdwin. This documentary is strong one exposing the misogynist and male chauvinism mind-set existing in our society. Banning of this documentary is idiotic, but I have certain reservations. These reservations are not the nonsense arguments of ‘affecting India’s tourism’ or ‘affecting India’s image’ or ‘made by a westerner’, but regarding the larger issues of ‘selective amnesia’ and attempt to isolate the statements by creating the ‘other’. I feel three very important things needed to be said in relation to this documentary;
1. I have seen many people commenting that this documentary that it is a surprise revelation to them. Some comments posted about the convicts are -Brute, Devils, and Uncivilized etc. But is it really surprising?! How come it is a surprise when incidents like of 16 December happen daily around us, in society and in family- physically and virtually everywhere! The statement of rape convicts or the defence lawyers are not some isolated incidents to get surprised. This is what our society thinks, imparts and propagates. Attempts to portray them as brutes or devils cannot isolate the misogynist and male chauvinist mentality that floats in us. These convicts are humans in flesh and blood, like you, me and everybody, and not some devil with horns or with special Martian mentality. So, what is required is to question the culture (religion and values) we follow and carry as priced possession. Are we ready for that? Also, attempts are being made in this Brahminism infested society to isolate this brute incident and surrounding mind-set and bracket it into something originating from marginalised sections of our society.
2. I see a wave of “surprised” comments in the social media. Why the society refused to get surprised when Dalits were brutally raped, when Indian Army committed gang rapes/ mass rapes in Kashmir and North Eastern, and when Indian security forces committed rapes in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand? Do we rememberKherlanji,KunanPoshpora, Asiya&Neelofer, Manorama Devi, and SoniSori? Why the society wishes to turn a blind to these? Why these brutalities fall under the box ‘selective amnesia’?
3. The most important point, what effects will this documentary have on the higher judiciary of India which has to ‘satisfy the collective conscience of the society’? The December 16 gang rape case is sub judice. The concern here is- will this documentary have any influence on the award of judgement regarding the appeal pending in the Supreme Court? Will the court confirm their death sentences based on the need to ‘collective conscience of the society’ or based on right to free trail? I am not going here into another debate over death penalty, which I personally feel is not justice and should be abolished. The point here is that we already know and have seen in case of Afzal Guru that the right to free trail was suppressed by the need to satisfy the ‘collective conscience of the society’. The issue becomes more complicated as the convicts are mostly from marginalised sections of the society for whom the idea of ‘free trial’ is sometimes a dream. This very fact that the convicts involved in this case come from marginalised sections of the society makes this case different from other documentaries made on issues sub judice like on Godhra genocide or Babri Masjid demolition. In the latter, perpetrators involved were mainly from the dominant sections of the society and also influential. The factor of power relation has to be looked while analysing the issue relating to this documentary.
This documentary is strong in its nakedness of exposes the mentality, but mostly focuses on the surface while the larger reality remains submerged deep inside. I think this cartoon circulating on social media by Nirmukta perfectly sketches the reality.