Standing on Shifting Sands of International Women’s Day

The documentary, India’s Daughter, is something I can’t seem to forget, especially when the director of the film says, she did it for women, and meant it as a compliment to India.

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Photo courtesy: India's Daughter Facebook page

This feels kind of strange, watching long movie-minutes featuring a rape convict and his lawyers spew venom against the victim and every woman who looks or thinks like her, some one just like so many of us in India right now. The hatred is scary, especially when I know it’s a gender thing, this all-consuming need to objectify women, to control women, to issue diktats against them, and to punish them for daring. We don’t come from such families, we were never part of so much of hatred against modern-day Indian woman. Our families loved and cherished us, sent us to schools, celebrated our birthdays and all other milestones. My father threw a party when I got a post-graduate degree, or my sister became a CA.

And yet I know this is exactly what happens in my city of Delhi. I know because I meet such men quite frequently. I do hear snippets of such rage and rant against woman occasionally to understand the grim truth in the seemingly obnoxious rants of a distorted mind. On hindsight, this may very well be the viewpoint of thousands in India right now. The film had done nothing but talk of something what happened, or happens even today. It’s like watching a mirror of my society, my country.

Whether it should have been made or not, whether a government ban is justified or not, whether the jail authorities should have bend backwards for a foreign TV company or not, whether people should see the film or not, I feel these questions kind of miss the point. The point is of being a woman today, a free-thinking, jeans-clad, working, studying modern woman today in India, and how safe is she. And if you ask me, I feel both the government and the society has failed her miserably. And that should be the point of talk, not a sensation-creating documentary movie.

As I get congratulated on International Women’s Day for being a woman, I kind of feel amused because this day is not for me. I can take care of myself, and fight my way across, if push comes to shove. This day is about millions of those women who don’t have the support I have, who are routinely victimised by their family, neighbours, and the society. This day is about Jyoti, who was butchered by a set of men she trusted to travel on a bus with. And to them we should pledge our support of providing a safe environment, and only then probably we will be celebrating true Women’s Day.

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