By Aakriti Gupta
Elm Staff Writer
Let us think of a situation: you’re a female living in India at this very moment. Living in a patriarchal society, you are naturally the minority and since you’ve been socialized into it since childhood, it doesn’t seem abnormal. You are told by the educated as well as the uneducated that if you are raped, it is your fault, as it was your behavior, actions, or clothing that provoked the man (or men) who raped you. You are raped because you are out with a male till 9 p.m. at night. You are raped because the men in your society want to enjoy life and if they have the money they pay for it. If not, you are a victim of their enjoyment. Also, after you are raped, if you want to live and not be killed by your rapist, you must not cry out for help or try to save yourself, but let these animals rape you in silence. This shall result in them granting your life.
These are the words and thoughts of one of the rapists that were recorded in an interview in the documentary “India’s Daughter,” made by the BBC. These rapists were involved in the Jyoti Singh Gang-Rape Case that took place in December 2012 in the capital city of India, New Delhi. A 23-year-old woman, Jyoti Singh, was returning home with a friend named Avanindra Pandey and decided to take the bus. The two of them were the only two passengers, along with six men. Of these six other men, four were drunk, one was a minor, and one was the driver of the bus. Pandey was beaten until he was unconscious and Singh was gang raped on the moving vehicle one by one by all the men, as reported by The Times of India, New Delhi. She was then beaten using a metal rod, which later was used for further penetration. As a result, her intestines were pulled outside of her body. Seeing this, the men thought she had died and threw her and her friend on the side of the road on the outskirts of the city and drove away, merely thinking that this night would just be a memory for them, according to The Hindustan Times.
The documentary “India’s Daughter” is a compilation of interviews taken of the various people that were linked to this incident. It includes, aside from the rapists, interviews with Jyoti’s parents, her tutor, defense lawyers appointed for the rapists, the rapists’ families, a member of the rape review committee, a faculty member of Oxford University, a doctor who treated Singh after the incident, and the police. This film is an eye opener for all Indians. It shows how there is absolutely no difference in the mentality or thought process of educated and uneducated men. All men in Indian society believe that it is always the mistake on the female’s part if she is raped.
Singh’s parents were probably the only pair in millions who thought they were blessed and not cursed with the birth of a girl. Coming from a very humble background, they believed in their daughter and chose to educate her instead of just getting her married off. It is very difficult to find people like them in India, as it is people like them that contribute to changing the role of women in the society. They set an example for all the parents who do not permit their daughters to receive an education and believe that their goal in life is to find a husband and perform the house chores. What bothers me the most is that this incident now gives such people the opportunity to use this against freedom for women.
Being a woman from India, I have never felt safe in my own country. I am a proud citizen of the country, but am equally ashamed of its structure of thought when it comes to women. While the culprits of Singh’s rape and murder were put behind bars there are thousands of other men who still believe that raping a woman is the only way that she can be taught a lesson. I feel remorse in saying that it would require a miracle to change the condition of women in a country where every wrong that is committed is hidden and every time someone tries to change it the government gets in the way. This documentary by the BBC was an attempt to bring about realization and change. However, the Indian government pulling the video from the Internet and pressing charges against the British filmmaker, Leslee Udwin, pushes the country further away from change. The question that remains is what is the meaning of being a woman in Indian society? Has the country really achieved any growth in this forum since almost 70 years of independence?