Sunday, March 8, 2015

Let Her Light Shine On

Written for International Women's Day March 8
In memory of Jyoti Singh.

International Women's Day

"India's Daughter" a BBC documentary on the brutal rape and killing of a young medical student Jyoti Singh created an uproar in India and the Indian Parliament banned it.

But contrary to the opinion of some that the documentary focuses on the rapists and provides a platform for them to showcase their story, in my view it does not.

It is about raising awareness of insensitive, primitive and unacceptable behaviours in the hope that they can be changed. It alerts at how disturbing the thoughts of the rapist are and even more disturbing are thoughts of the defence lawyers. But more importantly it highlights that these are the mindsets of many and that if behaviours are to change then social conditioning needs to change. You cannot bring about change unless you understand the deep rooted thinking of people. What change can you implement if you haven't understood the psyche that causes these behaviours?

It is a tribute to a young, hard-working and compassionate soul who had many dreams that were torn apart horrifically by a bunch of callous men who thought they had the power to do anything because she was a woman. It is the story of a life in indescribable pain who even where death would have been much easier, had the courage to stay alive just enough to give a statement so her rapists could be convicted. Her story must be heard. 

It is about her parents who share precious memories of their beloved daughter, the last days and  moments of her life, her shattered dreams and their shattered lives and who are asking for justice. They have a right to. My heart aches for them and we should hear them. 

It is about those moments when the youth of India,  men and women, boys and girls, stood side by side and with courage and conviction demanded justice, demanded change, demanded respect for women. It is a reminder for us to keep fighting as we did in 2012 as a result of that tragic day on December 16. We should keep fighting and demanding. 

Jyoti's brutal gang rape sent shock waves across the world. It fuelled a movement that demanded voices be heard. Banning this documentary is like saying Jyoti and many others like her didn't exist and it trivialises her parent's pain. 

Sadly Jyoti Singh's light went out on 29 December 2012. 

Let us reignite it for if we stop now then we have failed Jyoti and others like her. Her death will have been in vain.

Let her silent voice be heard through the voices of many, let her light shine on through the actions of many, let us not give up nor give in so that one day women around the world can say "We are free". 


Jyoti means light


Regardless of your thoughts on whether this documentary should be banned or not, it has rekindled a fire in people. Perhaps a new wave of action will take this to the next level. Perhaps Jyoti herself made this happen from the other side so that we do not stagnate in the old unacceptable conditioning. RIP dear Jyoti and may your light always be seen. 


image taken from the documentary

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35 comments:

  1. What I don't like about the documentary is that it looks and sounds more like a documentary to air the opinion of a convicted rapist and his neanderthal lawyers...Of course, I don't condone it being banned..And who can deny all that is wrong in our mindsets with regards to women...But why didn't she interview the an who also tried to save Nirbhaya? And most importantly why give a mouth piece to someone we know has committed such a heinous crime?

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    1. I certainly didn't see it that way Naba. And my opening lines are very clear on that. Perhaps the man who tried to save her didn't want to be interviewed. He has the right to be silent if he wants to. Would this documentary have fuelled such a huge debate and brought it to the fore if it hadn't shown the depraved mindset of the rapist and lunatic statements from the lawyers? I think not.The documentary was meant to shake us up again. And it did. I think it was extremely well done.

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  2. So true, this documentary rekindles the fire in people to continue fighting against primitive mindsets and rapes. When I watched the documentary on you tube, I hated the defence lawyers for what shit they were speaking. One of them said - 'India has a beautiful culture. It has no place for women'. While the voice given to the rapist is being condemned but aren't people like these lawyers whose opinion would have not been heard if not for this documentary. Consequently, the Bar Council of India has issued show cause notice to both the lawyers.

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    1. Thanks Anamika. That is my point exactly, that only when we expose these disturbing thoughts and behaviours can we effect change. Glad to hear that the BAR council has issued notice to these lawyers. The documentary has achieved at least one of its purposes. Greatly appreciate your reading my post and commenting.

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  3. Suzy, I hold some different views on the whole issue regarding documentary. You have probably read them in my article on Swarajya and in all the followup discussions. I haven't watched the film nor do I plan to. But I respect your views on the film and I agree on the core issue that the problem of sexual assault and violence toward women remains a very serious problem - not just in India but across the world. And serious problems demand serious solutions, very serious. I am also concerned however that the kind of mob-justice we saw in Nagaland (just while all the controversy over this film is brewing) raises too many other questions for us to think about.

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    1. Beloo I haven't read your article but I will. You do need to see the film before a judgement can be made. All the media have done is focus on the culprits and the lawyers, the film does much more than that. In fact after every asinine statement that they made, there was a comeback in the form of a statement from her parents, her friend and tutor, snippets of the protests, special committee members. It's a pity the media has influenced a lot of people in a totally wrong way. It's a very well made documentary. It is a heart wrenching tribute to a lovely soul and it shows the love and pain of her parents. To not see it is an injustice to them and to Jyoti. Do see it.

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  4. Hi Suzy,

    I have had mixed feelings about this documentary. I totally disliked the fact that a criminal was not only given cash, but also an international forum to air his views. However, what really shocked me was the lawyer's statement. I mean I don't expect a rapist to champion the cause of woman's rights, but a lawyer should have had more sense than that.

    I have read extensively on this. Heard both sides of the story. I must say the most beautiful, touching thing that I have read about this topic, is your post's concluding paragraph :)

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    1. Thanks Shanaya. I am not aware that any cash was given to the culprits. Will have to research that. I agree about the lawyers completely but that is exactly what the documentary was trying to show that these are not psychopaths that feel that way but even those who we would consider having a semblance of intelligence (being lawyers) who also holds such asinine views. The problem is deep rooted in mindsets. And that is very disturbing.

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  5. Suzy, I agree with you about the mindset of people and changing it to bring about change in society. The defence lawyers and the rapists have given us a glimpse into their psyche, we know what needs to be addressed. The notice by the Bar Council is a first step and very positive one too.

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    1. Thanks Sulekha. Happy you got my point and I'm glad that some action is being taken. We owe it to Jyoti and many like her. Would it have happened if this documentary and the way it was presented hadn't occurred? I wonder.

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  6. I have not seen the film as it seems banned. However, there are always two sides to every situation and Suzy I think you have an interesting perspective to be considered and that is of Jyoti. I wonder what she would have wanted if she were still alive...poor soul, may she RIP. A heartfelt touching tribute Suzy! :) <3

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    1. Thanks Elly. We all view things differently and that's what makes things interesting. What I saw in the film was that somehow justice must be done for Jyoti. That her death should not be in vain and that social reconditioning needs to occur for change to take place. Yes the comments those crims and lawyers made were disgusting. But if in exposing the mind set we can effect change then the documentary has done its job.

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    2. Words spoken from a wise woman! ;) <3

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  7. I agree with you totally. I had to write down my thoughts too on my blog. The mindset of the people just sickens me!

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    1. Thanks Jyothi. And because it sickens us, it drives us to take action. Your post was very well written.

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  8. I watched the documentary, while the words of the criminal and lawyers are disgusting, it is just the same like many wise people carry with them. When it came from a rapist, it fueled us from with in. I haven't felt that this documentary is showcasing the convicted in any way. It was merely showing their remorseless words. If it got to us then there is something we need to change in punishing the convicts, right. Maybe it is time we take the right step. Good write there, Suzy.

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    1. Thanks Vinitha. Your words echo my thoughts.

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  9. The government banning it was the most insensitive thing I feel. Why are they so afraid to look into the mirror. The message is very clear from the perpetrators' sides and general mentality of males towards females. Perhaps this should help them to take corrective action to accept women as equal human beings with equal rights. Hopefully, we should have a better generation next.

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    1. Thanks LS Exactly right that we need to understand mindsets before we can take corrective action. Change won't happen overnight but small steps lead to giant leaps.

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  10. I think the documentary gave a more clearer picture and it also let us to know the perspective of those accused. Till date I thought, maybe they're feeling guilty but on contrast they are actually accusing the girl. And it's high time we all take action against it.

    Nice write up.

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    1. Very true Sheethal, high time some action was taken. Thanks. Glad you liked it.

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  11. Beautifully said Suzy. I don't understand the motive behind the ban. Most of the people have already shared it in dropbox. I haven't watched the video. I don't think I can... it's too frustrating!!

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    1. Thanks Rajlakshmi. Most people have already seen it and in today's internet age it is ridiculous to ban it. It's actually an extremely well done film and a wonderful tribute to Nirbhaya. Do watch it.

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  12. Well said! I simply don’t understand the ban though I was really angry when I heard about the interview. Then I didn’t know that it was a part of the documentary. I think the documentary sends out a strong message that the culprit with filthy mind and dangerous thoughts should be hanged as soon as possible.

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    1. Thanks Tarang. It really does send out a strong message. And what is more disturbing is the thinking of the lawyers.

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  13. Such people don’t deserve to live around any living creature!

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  14. The debate is quite complex, though I expressed disapproval for glamorizing rapists, I feel a good point is made on psyche factor. I strongly oppose the ban which is ridiculous and we are old enough to decide, airing our perspective. Sad that such hysteric bans which is such a dangerous thing in a country taking pride in being the oldest and largest democracy.

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    1. Actually it doesn't glamorise them at all. It's a pity the media focussed on that aspect of the documentary only.

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  15. I tend to agree with you, Suzy. I found nothing offensive in the documenatary. I did not feel it demonized Indian men either. If anything, it made me respect Jyoti and her parents more. So yes, I do agree with your views.

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    1. Thanks Rachna. Well said and you hit the nail on the head, it made me respect Jyoti and her parents more too.

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  16. I agree with you completely! I think the documentary shows the mindset of rapists. It is important to understand that if we want to take any concrete and substantial actions against crimes against women.

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    1. Thanks Shilpa. We need to understand the root cause before we can take steps to remedy.

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  17. I didn't watch the documentary at all so I cannot comment on it. Yet, I think lauding the bravery of Nirbhaya is way more important than trying to get inside the mind of a sick man.

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    1. Tulika, that is exactly what the documentary does - lauding the bravery of Nirbhaya. It's unfortunate that the media have focussed on the rapists and influenced people into thinking it's all about them.

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