India’s Daughter

India’s Daughter,” is a BBC documentary about the gang-rape and murder of a young  female student in Delhi, in 2012. The documentary highlights one of the many cases in the ongoing and systemic issue of rape in India toward to bringing awareness and finding a solution. However, the documentary was banned by Indian officials because certain clips within the documentary “appear to encourage and incite violence against women.”

I think the ban is counterproductive to an effort which aims to address and fix a very serious and important issue. If anything, the documentary would help, not hinder progress to address this societal problem, so positive changes can be made.There are absolutely no valid grounds for the video to be banned in a place that clearly needs greater awareness to address and combat this issue.

The ban on the video is an archetypical response that reflects taboos the Indian community places on sensitive or touchy subject matter. Those who found the video to have “sensitive content”, are more concerned with the image of rape and the discomfort this topic entails, more so than the actual act of rape itself. This is very backward mentality. People are worried about how others will perceive them and the Indian community at large, so they brush these issues under the rug, so to speak.

Growing up in an Indian community myself, I saw firsthand how this mentality applies to Indians and the protection of their families and honor; this same mindset extends towards their country and fellow Indian community as well. The mindset itself is a problem, and hiding instead of addressing the problem of rape incidents does not change the fact that these incidents occur so frequently and go unnoticed or unsolved. The fact of the matter is that rape is an is an ongoing issue and India has done nothing to affect any change for the future. To do so, our country must look in the mirror and ask HOW change can occur.

The fact this video was banned in India spotlights the same internal issue that is prevalent within the Indian country and communities. Banning a video that is trying to generate forward thinking and progressive changes and  is just the tip of the iceberg. From the second a female is born in India, it is culturally common for them to be second to males. Before females are even born, they are discriminated against. When my mom was pregnant with me while on a trip in India, the lady who took her ultrasound said, “It’s a girl. What would you like to do?’, implying that my mom may want an abortion. Furious with her nurse, my mom stormed out. There is casual misogyny ingrained within Indian society in every aspect. Even the women have become accustomed to it.  This points to a greater flaw within the Indian society that has helped make the issue of sexual violent even bigger. To go against something against something that is so commonplace and culturally rooted, is to go against the lifestyle that society has deemed acceptable.

This does not call for independent change, rather, it calls for widespread individual change and a need to alter the mindset of Indian citizens. To end sexual violence in India, we need much more than a documentary. This documentary is heartbreaking and definitely screams for a call to action. However, how can Indian citizens take action on issues such as rape, if they deny efforts toward awareness, and deny the fact this is such a widespread issue?

India is the place where sexual assault is rapidly increasing. Rape in India is one of India’s most common crimes against women. According to the National Crime Records Bureau 24,923 rape cases were reported across India in 2012, but experts agree that the number of unreported cases of sexual assault brings the total much higher. Out of these, 24,470 were committed by parents/family, relatives, neighbors and other known persons implying that , men known to the victim committed 98% of reported rapes. The latest estimates suggest that a new case of rape is reported every 22 minutes in India.

Those who feel so much pride for India, and call it their motherland can so easily turn their cheek and disrespect the very people that are responsible for populating their country. Although I am not a citizen of India, I consider myself to be a daughter of India and these statistics are troubling to me.

A CNN article described the experience with the man, Mukesh Singh, who was responsible for the rape and murder of the 23 year old student.  “Perched on a stool in a prison cell –where he is awaiting a death sentence for his role in the attack — Singh lays the blame for that night on the victim, and makes derogatory comments about women and their place in Indian society. He does not flinch when filmmakers describe her gruesome injuries to him”. He thought that it was the young female’s fault for this incident.

This is not solely an issue of feminism, but rather an issue of patriotism and rights for all citizens. Women are not just daughters, mothers, or sisters, they are citizens. Why should they not have a voice to represent them? It is unjust to all citizens of India that this video was banned due to the violence shown in it. Simply hiding an issue will not change the fact that these horrible things are happening. India has to learn how to change individually, so that it can change as a country. The documentary sheds light upon the issue at hand, yet provides no real solution. We are the solution and must push for positive change so that we can empower the women of India to stand up for the change and rights they deserve.

In my opinion, everyone should watch this documentary to understand the concept of inhumanity and understand the crucial need for why it is imperative we fight for change. The documentary can be watched on Netflix. Below, is a link to a news clip about the bus driver’s reaction to the girl being raped and killed. He said that she and her friends should not have been out that late at night and he would have spared her life if she “didn’t fight back”. The best way to make this issue less taboo and create awareness to is educate yourselves, educate your peers, and educate the world.

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