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Curb the Shame, Not Its Mirror

By Jyoti Arora @Jy0tiAr0ra

women's day

First of all, wish you all a very happy Women’s Day!

I hope soon there indeed would come a day when all women in the world can be happy without any restriction, fear or impediment.

Such a day and time maybe far ahead. And if we consider the views expressed in the India’s Daughter documentary by some ‘lunatics’, such a time seems even farther ahead. Almost an impossibility.

These days, this documentary has become the theme of hot debate. Should it have been allowed? Should the maker of this movie have been allowed to interview the rapist? Was that interview justified? What is the real intention of BBC behind making this movie? Do they just want to portray India in a bad light? BBC just wants to show India as a country of women-abusers, I heard someone say.

Frankly, I have no interest in this documentary. I don’t need a movie made by a foreigner to show me the realities of my own country. But I don’t mind it either. I rather think that this documentary was made not because one girl got brutally raped. No. This movie was made because millions of us stood up to demand justice for her and safety for all other women in India. Millions of us stood up to raise our voice against the crimes against women.

So I don’t care whether somebody made a movie about it or not. I don’t care what impression of India this movie gives to the world. But I do care that when millions of us stood up to demand justice and safety, many stood up to mock this demand and hurl the blame back on the victims. We are fuming over what that rapist and his lawyers said in that documentary. If you haven’t seen, heard or read those words yet, let me put them here (as I found them on various articles on the net):

“A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.”

“Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes. About 20% of girls are good.”

People “had a right to teach them a lesson” 

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

I have deliberately refrained from indicating which of the above words were said by the rapists and which by his lawyer. Doesn’t make any difference since they obviously share the same mentality. Sick mentality!

But as Leslee Udwin pointed out in her interview “these men are not the disease, they are the symptoms.”

And I agree. Such views are mere manifestations of a deep rooted disease. A disease that was there when it was considered ok for men to have numerous wives. But when one woman was forced to marry five men against her choice, she was still considered worthy of being called a slut and deserving of public stripping. This disease was there when one woman was banished to a forest exile because she had the misfortune to be kidnapped by a lusting demon.

I feel the stink of this disease every time I hear someone curbing the freedom of girls and women. That is waht forced me to write my latest novel Lemon Girl, a book that protests against this injustice and shows the devastating effects that such sick attitude can have on girls. Lemon Girl shows that girls today aren’t even safe in their own homes. Not, not even in educated, modern households. And it is not just men who are infected by this sick attitude. Even women recognize different rules for their sons and daughters.

Every time I hear that the crimes against women are increasing because Indian women’s changed lifestyle is spoiling our culture. And how we are spoiling the culture? Simply by doing the same things that men don’t think any wrong in doing.

Let’s briefly recount the blames being hurled on women these days.

Women wear jeans. So do men, isn’t it? If it is wrong for women to wear jeans, how come it is right for men? Why not tell men too to wear ‘cultured’ clothes like dhoti-kurtas?

Women today go to pubs and smoke cigarettes. They are not good women. Going by that criteria, how many men can be called as ‘good men’?

Women court danger by being out. Excuse me? Who makes ‘being out in the night’ dangerous?

Women’s role is in their home. Their highest dream should be in serving her husband, in-laws and children well. This, when girls work just as hard at school as boys and consistently outperform boys in academics (as long as they are allowed to study).

When the Nirbhaya case happened, someone actually asked me this question. “If a woman walks out naked on the street, how is a man to blame if he gets tempted by her?” Yes, someone did actually ask me this.

Come on, would any girl or women in her senses walk out on Indian streets naked? If you see any girl in India in that condition, there can be only two reasons for it. Either, she is not in her senses or she has been through some grievous ‘incident.’ And so, instead seeing her as an opportunity and turning yourself into an animal of prey, try and becoming a gentleman. Help her. Take her to safety. She and her whole family will bless you till the end of their life.

People say rapes are increasing because girls wear short clothes. Why then are women being raped in villages? Why are even little babies being raped? Is a frock worn by a two year old an indecent dress too?

And what to say about those who conveniently preach that the rape victim could have saved herself by calling the rapists brothers, or that the rapists need not be treated too hard as boys can do mistakes, or what we are hearing now that the girl should have allowed the rape without protest and her life would have been spared.


Recently, someone also told me that women are raising unnecessary hue and cry about being victimized. As per this ‘someone’ most rape cases filed in the courts are fake and actually victimize poor men. Maybe some of these cases are fake. And that too is definitely wrong too. But are the continuing dowry deaths fake too? Are child marriages that wreck havoc on girls’ health and rob them of their entire future, dreams and happiness fake too? Are the increasing cases of acid-attacke fake too? is the pandemic of eve-teasing fake too? The increasing cases of honor-killing are fake too?

All this is real and happening even in so called ‘modern’ India. Even in modern, educated households giving evidence to how wide-spread the disease is. While many people are standing up to fight for the rights of women, many are still denying them even basic liberties. And if we women claim these liberties, the same liberties that men consider their natural prerogative, we women are termed as selfish, indecent, immoral and deserving of being taken advantage of.

Coming back to the documentary ‘India’s Daughter’, my only hesitation with it is that  I suspect it to take advantage of Nirbhaya and her family’s pain to create something sensational and capable of generating quick fame and profit. I personally have no interest in seeing it. Just reading about it is enough disturbing. But I can’t figure out what purpose would be solved by banning it? If you see a dirty face in your mirror, clean your face instead of covering up the mirror. Curb the shame, not the mirror that displays it.

The protests that rose up after Nribhaya’s tragic incidence proved that we are on the way to change this sick mindset. It was not only women who raised their voices then. Many men stood up too to demand justice. The fact that today women in India are successfully reaching top positions in many fields also proves the same. But let this not blind us from the fact that much still needs to be achieved. Strong rules aren’t enough. We also need stronger ethics and better education (not merely academic education) of all.

There’s a cleanliness drive going on in India now. Let’s all clean our minds too and not just the streets. Maybe then, we’ll truly be able to celebrate happy women’s day.


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