The controversy pertaining to the ban of BBC’s recent documentary on the Delhi Gang Rape, titled ‘India’s Daughter’ led me to rethink my position of decency and justice. The reasons given to justify the ban were that it: 1. violated Four Indian Statutes (despite my attempts, I have not been able to recover the said statutes except a very general idea of the same) 2. has the potential of inciting public outrage 3. gives overarching importance to freedom of expression 4. gives a platform to Mukesh Singh (convicted of rape and murder and currently on death row) 5. reveals the identity of the victim and violates privacy.
I was subject to the torture of sitting through the intellectual academic circles arguing in a very divided manner on the issue which was indeed a surprise. My surprise was primarily caused due to many reasons. The assumption that underlies the argument that the documentary can cause public outrage is that such an outrage did not occur when the incident took place in 2012. However, this is an erroneous notion as the rape and murder of the young lady did cause an outrage in India in 2012. (For instance, see http://www.dawn.com/news/772717/outrage-over-delhi-gang-rape-swells-across-india-2). The contention that the documentary gives overarching importance to freedom of expression is unacceptable on many different levels. Primarily, there was already many different articles, blog posts, community talks and the like on the issue where the details of the rape had been revealed. Secondarily, the documentary (at least in my personal point of view) does not seem to impede the judicial process. Thirdly, freedom of expression should only be restricted if it affects other rights. Unless it can validly be shown in this situation that the documentary does in fact impede the judicial process or that it violates other rights of the community, there does not appear to be a valid reason for the ban.
Some further argued that the documentary gives a platform to Mukesh Singh. This perhaps is caused due to sentimental reasons and emotions that are evoked in those who watch the documentary. Nonetheless, I am incapable of conceiving how it could be perceived as a platform for Mukesh Singh unless it can be considered as providing him an opportunity to portray himself as an innocent person which I don’t think is the case in this documentary. Although he attempts to argue that he was merely driving the vehicle, his remorseless attitude and misogyny makes a reasonable person doubt his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps, those who argue that the documentary gives Mukesh Singh a platform base their views on what the Defense (so-called)Attorney states. An accused, irrespective of how gruesome his conduct has been, has a legal right to be defended and has the right to fair trial. However, that does not mean that the Defense Attorney’s arguments should be based on morality and general advise to the women-kind on how not to get raped, what to wear and what time to come home. There is a reason why the lawyer’s job is referred to as an Attorney – at – Law and not an Attorney – at – Morality. Mr. M.L. Sharma, does not bring up any LEGAL justification for the acts that have been committed and fails to prove his capacity as an Attorney – at – Law.
Mukesh Singh does try to provide his (rather pathetic) justifications by making (quite outrageous) statements such as ‘You can’t clap with one hand, it takes two hands to clap’, ‘a decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night’ (judging by that standard, I admit I am not decent. I am proudly indecent. On certain days, after having remained in the Faculty of Law until seven o’clock in the evening judging student presentations, I reach home past nine. Hence, I am indecent. I travel alone some nights when my husband is incapable of picking me up. Hence I suppose I am extending a hand to clap with.), ‘a girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy’, and in relation to another rapist he says that ‘he was capable of anything’ (so the girls on the street should have telepathy to ascertain what the passersby are capable of), ‘out of shame they would learn a lesson’ (from the rapist school of discipline, I suppose), ‘the death penalty will make things even more worse for girls’ (pray, explain how!), ‘now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her’ (fact: they DID kill her. Her intestines were pulled out. An iron rod was inserted into her vagina). I beg those who consider this a platform for Mukesh Singh to explain how in fact, it becomes one.
The next issue is the identity of the victim which was revealed in the BBC Documentary. However, this is not the first instance in which it was revealed. (See http://tvaraj.com/2013/03/13/news-main-delhi-gang-rapist-dead-was-it-suicide-or-murder/) (Note its date of publication. There may have been even prior revelations of the victim’s name which I will not be digging into in this post) . The link provided herein gives more detail than just stating the name of the victim and it states that her father wished to reveal the victim’s name. Moreover, prior to the documentary begins, it states that the film was made with the cooperation of Asha and Badhri Singh, the rape victim’s parents. In light of these, it amazes me that some argue on lines of privacy. Are we talking of the privacy of the girl? I am sorry to say that it was violated the moment that the bus that she was traveling in, deviated from the usual route. Her privacy was violated by those who favor the idea that women should not be out on the streets after a particular time of the night. Her privacy was violated by those who demand that women should dress one way or the other. I do not wish to venture into the issue of the parents’ privacy as it is not a concern that arises as they have voluntarily consented to the facts of the matter being released to media – which I personally believe is a good decision although I cannot imagine the trauma the parents might be going through…
In short, I am shocked. You should be too… What has the world come to?
(All images used in the posts unless otherwise mentioned are drawn from https://images.google.com/ and the author does not hold copyright over the photos used.)