A few days ago, a documentary film “India’s Daughter”, by Leslee Udwin of BBC was released. It was shown on BBC and it was put on YouTube in defiance of a temporary restriction put on it by an Indian court. I watched it the very day that it was put on YouTube. The documentary generated a lot of discussion about the so called Patriarchy Theory. But there were some vital points about the real issue covered in the documentary that were missing from the heated debate that ensued.
But first, let me acknowledge that I have both appreciation and criticism for the documentary. She covered the real issues and events that led to the incident of 16 December 2012 which was reported as a violent rape by the media even before investigation and the accused were convicted as there was huge public outcry against it.
Almost the whole documentary was of the statements by those people who were directly or indirectly involved or got affected by the incident. Leslee didn’t take the information she got from them and put in the documentary in her own words. She let the words come out directly from the horses mouth in the documentary. This in some way gives credibility to her documentary.
But I also have one crucial criticism of her documentary. The sole witness of the event who could have been much more credible compared to the convicts or their lawyers, the male friend of the girl (aka Nirbhaya) was missing from the documentary. He saw the whole incident play out in front of him, but he was just absent. Where as the convict Mukesh Singh and his lawyers were given plenty of time in the film. Why did Leslee do that? She has not given any clues towards that.
Anyways, the documentary did capture the real reasons that led to the incident, although they were not highlighted, which led to them being missing from the TV and internet debates. Here they are. Crucial aspects of the incident, all covered in Leslee Udwin’s documentary:
1. The accused men were violent even in their normal life. The documentary showed that the accused men were violent in their regular life even prior to the incident.
2. The documentary showed that the accused men consumed alcohol and visited prostitutes. On the day of the incident they were drunk.
3. The documentary shows that the accused men had no access to education and childhood in their life. They had received no upbringing and had grown without any childhood in their life.
4. They had grown without love or care from anyone in their own life.
5. Being violent and thugs in their own life, when they got into a fight with the girl Nirbhaya in the bus, they immediately and automatically reacted with violence. More violence than actual rape as reported by mainstream media. Also the documentary captures that the girl Nirbhaya was more aggressive in fighting back than her male friend. In return, she also suffered more violence and attack than her male friend.
These were things that were all covered in the documentary and these explain the incident much more clearly and closely. But the discussion was mostly on what the accused and his lawyers stated post the incident to justify themselves. Those things cannot tell us anything about the incident. They do not even tell us the real mindset of the accused, before or at the time of the incident. Because those were stereotypical ideas taken only to justify the rapists and absolve them of blame. All accused and their lawyers will do that. Its human nature. In fact everybody does that. Those things can never explain the crime and should only be ignored.
Only those things that happened prior to the incident and that led to the incident can tell us what caused it. And they were all captured in the documentary, but not highlighted.
The accused are being brought to justice, but is that enough? We must honestly understand what led to that violent incident because only that can lead us to steps needed to make a better society.
Why did Leslee put the spot light on the statements of the convict and his lawyers?
What explains the violence and the incident more closely?
The five points that we just discussed or the stereotypical statements that Leslee chose to highlight?
Why did Leslee kept the male friend of Nirbhaya out of the documentary?
Did his statements not lend themselves to do what she was trying to do?
And what was the real motive behind making this documentary?
Before the film was released, she gave an interview to NDTV in which she stated that if she had been honest about one thing while making this documentary, it was towards her fight for (so called) equal rights for women in the world. Doesn’t that mean “Feminist Agenda”, in plain English?
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