India’s Daughter: ‘I made a film on rape in India. Men’s brutal attitudes truly shocked me’ says Leslee Udwin.
Leslee Udwin who spent 2 years making this documentary on Jyoti Singh, the victim of the brutal Delhi rape case was an actress before becoming an award-winning producer. She interviewed the convict, Mukesh Singh for 16 hours over three days. The edited footage of the interview was later shown to the authorities. Now this documentary was to be broadcast on Sunday, the International Women’s Day, i.e., the 8th of March, 2015. The broadcast was to be done by BBC4 and channels in seven other countries, including India’s NDTV.
On Tuesday, 3rd March 2015, Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister of India gave orders to the Delhi police to get a court order for prohibiting the film’s release. This was with context to the article containing the excerpts from the documentary where in the rapist called it her fault and said she was killed because she fought back. The police said that the ban was imposed on the documentary as Mukesh’s comments might lead to a massively tensed atmosphere and public anger.
BBC advanced the film’s release and made its broadcast. The same documentary, which was supposed to be banned was uploaded on YouTube as well.
Here is the entire summary of the whole film and all those who were involved in the case –
- Jyoti Singh belonged to a very poor family, she wanted to be a doctor so that she could help the poor. Since the parents were extremely poor, they sold their land and invested all the money in her education.
- She was a hard working girl. To the meet the expenses, she used to work in an International call center at nights due to which she would sleep just 4 hours a day.
- 16th December, 2012, the day on which the incident occurred, was the day when she was home after finishing her studies. It was a Sunday and from the next day, she was supposed to begin interning. She had told her parents to let go of the worries as she was finally going to become a doctor. She thought of going for a movie because after that, she wouldn’t get much free time.
- Mukesh Singh said a few disturbing things like –
- Women who went out at night had only themselves to blame if they attracted the attention of gangs of male molesters.
- A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.
- It was her and her friend’s fault to fight back, which made the molesters inflict the savage beating and she died ultimately.
- The killing was an accident
- 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.
- You can’t clap with one hand – it takes two hands.
In the following lines, Mukesh described the whole incident. It is heinous, disgraceful and disgusting. I still urge everyone to read it –
Ram Singh, my brother, always used to get into fights and would go to any heights. Vinay was working in a gym. He used to take injections for more power. Going around and teasing women was routine for him. Pawan had a fruit stall. Akshay Thakur used to help in the bus with cleaning and other work. He has a wife and a kid. The juvenile was around 17 years old. He had left his home when he was 11. He was a helper. He is very sharp and can easily trick people.”
The day it happened, Akshay was home after washing the bus. He said, “let’s cook, I have alcohol.” He was heavily drunk. Both him and my brother got drunk, we met Vinay and Pawan and went out to party.
“We have money, let’s go to GB Road.” GB Road is an area where there are brothels.
My brother just asked the boy with the girl, “what are you doing with a girl so late?” He told him it was none of his business. That is when he got angry and slapped him. Otherwise he had no intention of rape or fighting. Someone put his hand in her, and grabbed something long. It was something like her intestine. She’s dead, throw her down quick. She was screaming for help. They hit her and dragged her back, and took turns. This was an accident that happened to them, to teach them a lesson. The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Before, they would rape and say, ‘Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.’ Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.
ML Sharma, the defense lawyer, said,
the females are like flowers – good looking, soft, give a pleasant feeling. The males are tough, like thorns. Females need men to be protected. If thrown in gutter, they’ll be spoiled. If kept in temples, worshiped. Why did they send her with anyone that late at night? He wasn’t her boyfriend. Is it not parents’ responsibility to keep an eye on where she goes and with whom? That girl was with some unknown boy who took her on a date. They were under a filmy imagination. In our society, we don’t allow our girls to come out of the house. Girls are like diamonds. If you keep them on street like food, dogs will take it. Sorry, girls and boys aren’t friends in our society. Women mean putting sex in his eyes. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for women. In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7.30 or 8.30 in the evening with any unknown person. If very important, she should go, but with family members. She should not go with boyfriend.
AP Singh, the lawyer who defended the accused himself is a hypocrite moron. He said,
If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight.
“It was noticed the documentary film depicts the comments of the convict which are highly derogatory and are an affront to the dignity of women,” – this was the comment by Rajnath Singh to the lawmakers in parliament.
According to The Guardian, Udwin said, “I tried to know what Mukesh thinks about women and what led him to do this,” she said. “See the film: there is no sensationalism. It isn’t about giving a platform to the rapists, India should be embracing this film – not blocking it with a knee jerk hysteria without even seeing it. This was an opportunity for India to continue to show the world how much has changed since this heinous crime.”
It is an hour long film. I knew that by the end of it, I would be shaken, agitated and grated; but still, something said that I want to see it. I did, and here’s why I think each and every Indian must watch it.
First things first, Mr. Rajnath Singh, banning isn’t the solution. Ignoring and not knowing about the girl who died fighting those morons isn’t the solution. Why do we want to cover up the outrageous comments and the thoughts that the rapist had? If something really need to be banned, can’t we ban these lawyers for first of all defending the rapists and secondly, for having the audacity to say such derogatory things about our women and our society? Who are they, to openly talk nonsense about our society?
True, that the documentary had explicit details about the whole case. But if were naive enough to let this happen and face the fact the rapists are still alive, are we not sensible enough to confront the whole issue? Why are we having a problem with it now? I believe, let every Indian watch it. Let every school kid watch it and learn. Let every person who thinks man has a superiority over the women in any damn way watch it. As it has been stated a lot of times, rape is not about the sex, it is about the power. These rapists felt that it’s a part of enjoyment and every man is entitled to such enjoyment.
It’s about time we know that women are not objects of fun for men. It’s about time we know that such men and such a mindset has been prevalent, still exists and until we take some really strong measures, it will keep existing in the society. No, banning this documentary won’t do any help. If it is causing public rage, let it happen. Let people think and let their blood boil. Let there be wrath, so that the next time if a similar situation arises, the person would think thousand times before even thinking of doing something like this.
“Everyone should watch the film. If a man can speak like that in jail, imagine what he would say if he was walking free,” said the father of Jyoti. Yes, even his dad wants us to see it. And learn.
But does that mean the entire community of the Indian men is to be blamed?
However, a different angle to the whole scene is that The Telegraph article by Colin Freeman mentioned, “the interview aired by BBC will be seen by women’s rights groups as compelling evidence of the appalling attitudes shown by many Indian men towards women.”
This is like if a terrorist is a Muslim, all terrorists are Muslims. Never, and I mean never, can one person’s views define those of the whole community he/she represents. We are wronging the whole lot of our fathers, brothers, sons and husbands who are nowhere close to such men, if we say that these rapists represent the mindset of Indian men as a whole.
In closure, I’d like to share what Udwin said in her defense, “My integrity and my objective in making this film is totally honest. I myself have been raped. There is no shame for me; the shame is for the rapists. The film tries to show the disease is not the rapists, the disease is in society.”
I’d like to end this with Jyoti’s father’s comment – “In death, she lit such a torch … whatever darkness there is in this world should be dispelled by this light.” Let us not let this light dim, let us spread this word. Let us not allow the death of that strong woman go in vain…