Millennium Post

Not a woman’s world

India’s Daughter, an India-uk co-production, Directed and produced by british oscar award winning Leslee Udwin (for the film East is East) and co-produced by Dibang. The film will be shown on March 8th International Women’s Day  on National television in India and also simultaneously in UK, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Canada. India’s Daughter tells the story of the horrific Delhi gang rape of Nirbhaya which sent shockwaves around the world in December, 2012, and of the unprecedented protests and riots which this horrific event ignited throughout India, demanding changes in attitudes towards women.

Director-Producer Leslee Udwin describes what impelled her to make the documentary: “When news of this gang-rape hit our TV screens in December 2012, I was as shocked and upset as we all are when faced with such brazen abandon of the norms of ‘civilised’ society.  But what actually inspired me to commit to the harrowing and difficult journey of making this film was the optimism occasioned by the reports that followed the rape. Courageous and impassioned ordinary men and women of India braved the December freeze to protest in unprecedented numbers, withstanding an onslaught of teargas shells, lathi charges and water canons, to make their cry of ‘enough is enough’ heard. In this regard, India led the world by example – and I love India for this. In my lifetime, I can’t recall any other country standing up with such commitment and determination for women’s rights.”

With exclusive and unprecedented access, the film examines the values and mindsets of the rapists, Mukesh Singh’s interview offers a revealing insight into his attitudes towards women and into why men rape.

In his interview, he says women are more responsible for rape than men, women should not travel late at night, nor should they go to discos and bars or wear the ‘wrong clothes’. He also claims that his execution will make life more dangerous for future rape victims. Mukesh Singh suggested the rape and beatings were to teach Jyoti and her friend a lesson that they should not have been out late at night. And he criticised Jyoti for having fought back against her attackers saying: “When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy.”

Of her encounter with the rapists (during 31 hours of interviews in Tihar Jail, over 7 days), Udwin says: “The horrifying details of the rape had led me to expect monsters. The shock for me was discovering that the truth couldn’t be further from this. These were ordinary, apparently normal and certainly unremarkable men who shared a rigid and ‘learnt’ set of attitudes towards women. What I learned from these encounters, is the degree to which society itself is responsible for these men and for their actions. These rapists are not the disease, they are the symptoms. Gender inequality is the disease, and gender inequality is the solution, the only one.”

Another defence lawyer who acted in the case, ML Sharma, says: “You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”

Jyoti’s mother sums up a widely held attitude: “Whenever there’s a crime, the girl is blamed, ‘She should not go out. She shouldn’t roam around so late or wear such clothes.It’s the boys who should be accused and asked why they do this. They shouldn’t do this.”

Writer and historian Dr Maria Misra of Oxford University says: “Her death has made a huge difference. I think that, first of all, it has really brought home the issue of the problems of the way young and independent women are perceived in Indian society. It’s opened up a debate in India that I think hasn’t been held publicly and widely about exactly what the relationship between men and women should be.”

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