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April 05, 2018

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BBC documentary banned or mindset remained shut?

 Published : Tuesday, 24 March, 2015 10:30 AM
 
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BBC documentary banned or mindset remained shut?
 
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Time duration= 30 minutes
Gender equality seems a distant dream to achieve across the globe. The patriarchal notions are so deeply entrenched that it will take more than a documentary to bring about a change. It is, however, a step in the right direction. The documentary in question, 'India's Daughter' by BBC, has yet again placed a mirror in front of the society and exposed the rot that pervades the society. Not only does the documentary reveal the deep rooted patriarchal mindsets of those perpetuating the crime, but also the Indian government which, by banning the documentary, has lost the opportunity to project India as a country which is working to change this attitude and taking steps to protect the dignity of women.

A. The documentary exposes the draconian mentality of the society, which inexplicably holds the victim responsible for 'inviting' the crime upon herself. This was clear in the documentary, as the assailant Mukesh Singh remorselessly blamed the victim for 'inviting' the crime upon herself by being out on the streets at night on that fateful day of 16 December 2012.

B.  Though the documentary was made with the prior permission of the relevant authorities, the government, belatedly, realised that the documentary will incite violence against women and conveniently decided to ban it.

C. I believe that the panacea for all problems begins with accepting that the problem exists. And this documentary provided that opportunity. It should have compelled not only us but the world too, to introspect, to reflect on where the society is heading and to articulate a common vision of the kind of society we want to live in.

D. True. Sadly, by deciding to ban the documentary, the Indian government has diverted global attention to its regressive stance and has publicized further what it wants suppressed, rather than becoming a part of the constructive debate caused by the documentary. The government lost the opportunity to clarify to the world that India is a not a regressive, unsafe and conservative country, rather it is aggressively taking steps to ensure equality and safety of its citizens. The united demonstration by ordinary citizens (both men and women) calling for equality, following the incident ,which GopalSubramaniam , former solicitor general  calls "a momentous expression of hope for society"  could have been presented as a sign of change. Yet, India faltered.

E. The ban reveals that the mindsets are still closed. People are not ready to accept women as equals. RajyaSabha member JavedAkhtar minced no words when he said, "It's good that this documentary has been made.  Crores of men in India have now come to know that they think like a rapist. If it is sounding dirty, they have to think." The objective of any discourse on gender should be to make people think and the documentary should have been a trigger to make people think and reflect and thus change mindsets.

F. However, the title of the documentary does limit the problem to India only, without placing it in the larger perspective. Crime against women is rampant in several countries including the developed. Gender stereotypes thrive in several other countries, including the developed. For instance, a documentary called 'United Kingdom's Daughter', a supposed response to 'India's Daughter', highlights crimes against women in Britain and exposes similar mentality towards women that exists there. The point, thus, made is that a daughter is a daughter irrespective of nationality, colour and religion.

G. The documentary should not be seen as an attempt to malign the image of India. Seeing it thus, would restrict the issue dealt with in the documentary as a specific problem of a specific country, whereas the fact is that women all over the world battle such attitudes.

H. Banning the documentary or any other medium of expression also flies in the face of 'Freedom of Speech', a fundamental right guaranteed by the India Constitution. India has had a long history of suppressing freedom of speech and expression and the ban has certainly not helped improve the image of the country.

It is not easy to change mind-sets, especially related to gender and any attempt to do that must be supported whole-heartedly.
 
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