‘India’s Daughter’ is not an act of global solidarity

Vrinda Grover is a noted lawyer and activist.

Vrinda Grover
Vrinda Grover

I have seen the documentary film, India’s Daughter.
I think we need to take a position of engagement rather than posit it as a ban or no ban issue ( which to my mind is much more convenient but not necessarily helpful position).
One significant issue here is of rule of law; fair trial and rights of victim and accused. It is critical to remember that the legal process has not yet concluded, The appeal is pending in the Supreme Court.

(Image by Prakash K Ray)
(Image by Prakash K Ray)

The other concern is that the film serves to amplify hate speech against women and air misogynist views.

It is quite interesting that today NDTV has spent a major part of the evening discussing the issue of VAW, including the problems with the criminal justice system , impunity etc. This to my mind is the ONLY unintended positive fallout of the Udwin documentary.
What is terribly misleading in NDTV’s programmes through the evening however is the projection that Udwin’s docu film discusses or raises these issues.

In fact the precise problem with the film is that it does not probe sexual violence as a systemic issue, it isolates the 16 Dec men. It profiles poor Indian men as rapists.

Thus on the one hand the film will serve to incite the wrath of the public and very soon cries of death to the rapists will resound, for they now carry the tag of ‘monsters’.
On the other hand the film will for many others, particularly men, reinforce that women deserve rape and their lives must be circumscribed by misogynist and patriarchal notions.
Either way it is a lose- lose situation for women in India.
Telecasting this film, even as legal proceedings are pending does not advance the cause of women’s rights or the rule of law or the right to a fair trial.
I do not subscribe to the government’s stance that the film defames India. India should be ashamed of each and every act of violence against women.
This film is however not an act of global solidarity.
March 8th marks the day of struggle for the rights of women. The telecast of this film on that day will provide a platform for the broadcast of hate speech against women on International Women’s Day.

Another post of Vrinda on this issue:

I have seen the film India’s Daughter.
I have heard Anu Aga and Javed Akhtar’s response in Parliament. I respect what they say and the issues they have flagged. However I want to emphasize that they spoke in response to the framing of the issue by the Govt MPs. I absolutely agree that India and all Indians should be deeply ashamed and embarrassed and furious at the pervasive violence against women. I completely distance myself from the govt’s reasons for prohibiting the broadcast of the film.
Yet I hold that the film should not be telecast till all legal proceedings have concluded. Also the film amplifies hate speech against women; misogyny and incites violence.
Yes, many political and religious leaders have made such remarks. Have we not repeatedly opposed them. Why should we now provide a global platform for hate projection.As a society we are at a critical juncture in this debate.
Let us not for a moment discount the impact that this kind of advocacy of violence will have.
This film does not advance the cause of women, nor does it probe the systemic causes, nor does it examine the criminal justice system, nor does it compel you to introspect on the endemic violence against women in the home and on the streets.
In my view it can only incite mindless wrath – in some against the Dec 16 accused men and in others against women.

One reply to “‘India’s Daughter’ is not an act of global solidarity

  1. Dear Maam, I agree with you on the legal point. It is true that the statements made by the accused on camera will definitely worsen the public opinion against him and might affect the outcome of the appeal. Though considering that they have all plead guilty to the crime, I dont really think the filmmakers are out of line in making this docu. But asking one docu to give a complete picture of the social, legal as well as economic aspects of VAW might be a little too much. This is the first time I have ever heard from the victim’s family or known the extent of the torture inflicted on her. I commend the filmmakers for bringing the words of the convicts to the public and only they bear responsibility for the statements they have made. If such a crime has happened in our country, trying to hide the reality from the world is definitely a wrong approach to take. Maybe if India’s image in the world suffers, we might take stricter action in the future.

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