Yesterday, the BBC released a documentary film recording the events of the gang rape of a young girl that happened on the 16th of December, 2012, in India’s national capital, Delhi. It included never-before-seen interviews with the victim’s parents as well as the rapists’ family and friends. It also included the mass protests that shook the country after the incident. They called this documentary ‘India’s Daughter’.
Today, the government of India banned the documentary, declaring it “a very sensitive issue” – only increasing the public attention it had been receiving.
As I watched the documentary, I went through a series of emotions – mostly anger, disgust and then finally, heart break (which I did not expect). Predominantly, I felt a rage – an explicit, murderous and infuriating rage – at the people who did those inhuman things to her and more so, the people who had the audacity and the sick mentality to actually support and justify such atrocities. It was a gang rape, a brutal, heinous crime against a young girl, a college student. It was so barbaric that the organs in her body were destroyed, never to recover again. Her intestines trailed out of her, she was beaten and bitten, and had an iron rod thrust into her. After this treatment, she was thrown out, naked and bleeding, along with her friend (who was also battered and bruised), on the roadside. Even the most dangerous criminals have not been subject to such barbaric acts for their crimes of murder, trafficking, robbery – but it is an absolutely fitting and deserving punishment for a girl who is out late in the night, to watch a movie with a male friend. How, I repeat – HOW – and in which sick, twisted universe is this justified? Why would anyone try and justify something like this?
And no – do not bring in Indian “culture”. Like Chimamanda Adiche said, “Culture does not make people. People make culture.” It is people like these, who blame “culture” for obviously wrong things, that defile our country’s culture. Culture is constantly changing. Going out at a certain time of the day or night, being able to wear what one wants, and being with members of the opposite sex is not a crime. Trying to curb that, or even something as atrocious as justifying rape for something like that – it just boggles my mind, the immense and utter stupidity of it all. Words cannot describe my infinite disgust and fury towards the narrow-minded mentality of the two lawyers who defended the rapists – who, in the first place, had admitted to their crimes. The two lawyers seem to be of a different, and what seems to be a more misogynous frame of mind – one of them even claiming that he would punish his sister or daughter if she ever had a pre-marital sexual relationship by burning them alive. The shocking truth is that such mentality does run through the minds of a scarily large number of people, and it is this that is the ultimate enemy. What’s more disturbing is that it runs through the minds of women as well!
I had decided, half-way through the documentary, that this would be an angry blog post, a rant, a vent for my anger. But I never thought I’d be left feeling so broken-hearted, so drained of all the fury, at the end. The last words Jyothi (the victim) said to her mother, before she succumbed to her brutal injuries in the hospital were – “Sorry Mummy. I gave you so much trouble. I am sorry.” More than anything else, this shattered me into a thousand pieces, because at that moment I realized that that would’ve been the exact same thing I would have wanted to tell my own mother, had I been in that position. And I knew this truth, deep in my heart, because I am an Indian girl, and it would take more than an education and the most amazing parents in the world to rid me of the guilt of feeling like a burden.
Jyothi felt guilty – even after watching an entire nation stand up for her, and fight for her and give her the title “Nirbhaya” (which mean “the brave one” or “without fear” or “courageous”) – she felt guilty for all the trouble she had caused. Only except, it wasn’t she who caused all this trouble, it was the group of men who decided to rape her.
And this exactly is the ultimate enemy.
Rape is not the fault of the victim. It is the fault of the rapist. Even after the number of times this has been said, it still has not sunk into the mindsets of people yet. Only when that happens, will there be any semblance of change in the country. And right now, change is what this country desperately needs.