Her name means light, which faded away because of the torture and suffering inflicted by her perpetrators. The heinous act ignited impassioned pleas for women’s safety across the whole country. The recent furore over an interview of the rape convict in the Nirbhaya case to a British documentary film-maker has once again brought the spotlight on the repulsive mindset of many men towards women in India. The documentary is an excoriating critique of how men perceive women in India.
The government has reacted to the pleas made. However, in our country where freedom of thought and expression are cherished and battered simultaneously, we need to now look forward and ask: where are we heading as a country?
Should it be justified to say that a girl who leaves her home after 9 pm is bound to be raped? Or should a defence lawyer say that he is ready to burn his wife or daughter if they are found to be with a man? Are we so worried about showing this disgusting mindset to the world? Shouldn’t we introspect and act on it instead? Will the defence lawyer ever imagine an iron rod being forcefully inserted inside his own wife or daughter’s body and their entrails removed? Or would he perhaps not object to it because he would rather pour petrol on them and burn them alive at his farm house?
We need to learn, listen, adapt, accept and act on problems that plague our society. We need to move away from this mentality of reacting or never acting to resolve core issues.
It is extremely painful to see a girl who aspired to be a doctor with a dream of establishing a hospital in her ancestral village, with the aim to help poor people, fight for her honour and those %$%#&@# rapists smear her honour with reprehensible acts of violence. The country must know that there are many men whose mentality needs to be exposed and shake this patriarchal mindset that women are not safe.
A few months ago, during the Winter Session of Parliament, I had a conversation with my colleague from the Rajya Sabha, respected poet Shri Javed Akhtar, who asked me why a family celebrates the birth of a son but not a daughter. Why mustn’t her birth be celebrated instead of just equating her with a Goddess? When a father, the head of the family, decides that his son and daughter are equal and this is established and practiced in every household, in every religion, caste and creed, then we won’t need a broadcasting company to telecast the problems and suffering of India’s daughters. We need to make our society and government sensitive to various kinds of issues faced by women.
It is not just the responsibility of an institution. It is India’s duty to safeguard and uphold each and every daughter’s honour and dignity.
As the mother of a young daughter, I hope banning the documentary helps safeguard and uphold my daughter’s and every Indian daughter’s honour, but changing the mindset of those who have been portrayed in the documentary is more important. Defence lawyers are entrusted with defending the indefensible sometimes, but they are entrusted with defending them with law, not joining them in their repugnant mindset and polluting society.
Only when such people are banned will my daughter’s honor be intact.