The documentary did serve its purpose, undoubtedly. Until it was banned, of course.
It made one cringe with fear and look down with shame, rethink our society’s so-called “moral” values and take back a message, hopefully. But the documentary is not all about Nirbhaya, or Jyoti Singh or the guilty (and sentenced to death). It doesn’t just point out the flaws in our treatment of women or the consequences of a deeply rooted patriarchal way of things that has taken centuries to establish. It doesn’t just leave one helpless and trying to fight back the tears. It does more than just that.
One documentary. One harmless documentary, or at least we think so even if the Indian Government does not, about something that happened two years ago. Even today, long after the protests have died, the aftermath still remains. The surge of anger and awareness parallel in the air. The voices of the Youth that were heard that day, for the first time, are still poignant. The India that everyone is so proud of is a breeding ground for such culprits who fail to recognise the seriousness of their misconduct. Why should they? Thousands of such men are out there, moving about their lives unpunished. India has set examples good enough for them to feel that their act was “righteous” of their own accord and essential to “teach her a lesson”. Of course their thought process is messed up and wrong. But what and who is to blame for that? We are. The Country is.
This country, comprising not just the Government but also the people, ancestry, history and the possible future, all determined what happened.
Let’s take examples from the documentary itself.
When the victims were lying on the road, writhing in pain and still managing to yell out “Help, help”, nobody stopped to actually help. Everyone turned a blind eye. Why? Just because “Jhanjhat mein kisse padna hai yaar?” Look where that got us.
Even when one man’s moral compass did point in the right direction, nobody was ready to assist him. We’re talking about citizens that reside in the country’s capital — Delhi. People who, probably, were educated enough to make better decisions.
Secondly, the peaceful protests that were led by the Youth of Delhi right after the incident came to light were responded by hose pipes, tear gas shells, and a police force using batons; exactly like the Government responded yesterday by banning all television channels, and now even YouTube, from showing the documentary.
During the British rule, any sign of protest and opposition on behalf of the public was silenced by flogging and other brutal techniques. How is this any different? If we are not being allowed to watch a 60-minute film that holds nothing but the truth, how are we ever going to even begin to change things? Understanding the problem is always the first step.
Thirdly, the families of those five men, upon being interviewed, reeked grief and sadness and probably a bit of remorse on some level. But by and large, it was pretty obvious from the video, that the families chose to be oblivious. They could not accept the fact their son/husband could be guilty of something like this. I don’t blame them, in any way. But it’s what made me realise the fundamental errors and how deep-rooted they are even today.
And the only message that the aforementioned points convey is that Jyoti Singh must not be called India’s daughter. At this particular moment, India does not deserve such honour and if we continue at this rate, we might never deserve it at all.
In a society that perpetually thrusts control and respect, in some way or the other, upon men and boys, one is shamed not just because women are disrespected but also because men, in general, have yet to earn it.