An open letter to Mr. Modi, by another Nirbhaya

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“Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them”

-Rabindranath Tagore

 

Respected Mr. Prime Minister,

With such an uproar being created over the telecast of Leslie Udwin’s documentary- India’s Daughter, let me tell you that while this may be the first of its kind to create a stir, it will certainly not be the last. The documentary is meant to shock us to the core. What happened with Nirbhayaa was not only brutal but also barbaric! It cost an innocent girl her life. And was this her fault? Yes, it was her fault for venturing out of her house at 8 pm in the capital of our country, says the 23-year-old rapist at the time of the event.  Were we expecting the accused to be guilty? Were they supposed to be remorseful? Of course not. If the rapists had any kind of conscience, such a heinous act would not have occurred in the first place. However, let’s heave a sigh of relief that they are in jail- and our streets are safe from such predators. 

But they aren’t alone. What about others out there? What about the defense lawyers? One of them openly claimed to burning the women of his house for indulging in pre-marital sex. And mind you, these are not the views of the criminal minded. These are educated individuals living in our so-called society. They’re all free to roam the streets in our democratic and secular country. To put things into perspective, every 21 minutes, a woman is raped in our country. This is excludes molestation, burns, domestic violence and acid attacks. Marital rape isn't even included in the definition of rape in our constitution. What’s more, a grim number of one million female fetuses have been aborted causing unequal sex ratios. Studies by a number of women’s activist groups in the country indicate that poor and conservative attitudes about women have contributed to worsening this situation. It is this mind set, I believe, from where the problem stems in the first place and has led to all sorts of atrocities against women.

Nirbhayaa was called such because she became a voice, a symbol for others to speak up. In her pain she found courage. India’s Daughter is a stark reminder for our country to wake up and face this grim issue. Three years on, India needs to shine its own light, not be afraid of the darkness. Why is it that we attempted to hide the documentary? Are we trying to protect India from the regressive views of the lawyers and the accused, which comes across in statements like, “Women are diamonds, if left on the street they will be feasted on by dogs.” By hiding this mindset we are protecting such people and indirectly paving the way for others to think along the same lines. We are already labelled as a country where women are unsafe, let’s not be the ones who are voiceless and spineless.

Our true battle lies in changing this mind set; not banning the film. Through this documentary, India’s Daughter(s) plight has been showcased not just to India, but to the world. Let the world see it. Let them know and be shocked. Let India be ashamed. Let India awake. Perhaps this knowledge and shame will compel people to change. One can only hope.

I do hope you know that hiding something only makes it more enticing. The stir created by the ban on this documentary has only publicized it more. Those who wouldn’t have watched this documentary otherwise will watch it now. As for the media channels running #NirbhayaInsulted, I’m sure she would be happier if there were laws being created to stop such crimes. Instead of raging over issues such as insensitivity and morality, let us tackle the bigger issues at hand- ensuring that our women- the pillars upon which the future of this nation rests are respected, safe and empowered. It is only then that the wheels of progress will truly turn. Until then, rest assured that many more Nirbhayaas will speak up and will raise their voice.

 

Yours truly,

Another Nirbhayaa


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