Credits: Graphics by Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half
The brutal rape and the eventual death of Jyoti Singh Pandey is back in the news again because of the documentary, India’s daughter, made by Leslee Udwin. Jyoti was only 23 when she died in 2012 of the horrific injuries she sustained as a result of her encounter with five men on a moving bus. Because she had the temerity to fight back, the men raped her viciously with an iron rod and left her to die, by the side of the road, in a pool of her own blood and guts.
Udwin’s interview with one of the rapists and his defense team has raised hackles of many in India and ultimately led to the documentary being banned in India. Not only does the rapist, Mukesh Singh not show any remorse he also blames Jyoti for her rape and subsequent death.
In a country whose elected leaders routinely blame women for the violence they suffer and never the men who commit these crimes, where women are deemed inferior to men or even worse, likened to objects. Is it really shocking that men like Mukesh Singh exist?
Rape and murder are at the extreme end of the scale of the indignities that Indian women have to bear from their birth till the day they die just for being female. However, the skewed gender ratio, the malnourished girl children, the underweight mothers, the treatment of widows, attest to a broader culture where a virulent strain of misogyny thrives.
When this story is reported by the Indian news media, Jyoti is almost never mentioned by name. Why is that? She did nothing wrong, why does her name have to be hidden while those of her rapists grace headlines? Is it some twisted logic that being raped is worse than being a rapist? She deserves to be remembered by her real name. It is time for India to quit burying its collective head in the sand. So air the damn documentary and call Jyoti Singh Pandey by her name, enough with the cute euphemisms. Her father is right, her name deserves to be known.
Banning a documentary does nothing except show the world that India’s leaders think that Indians can’t handle the unvarnished truth about their own society. I think they are selling their citizenry short.