The one thing India does very well is accommodate a range of views on issues. The range, maturity and the depth of the opinions expressed always add value – some in revealing themselves, and some in revealing the lack.
The debate rages online, as I hope it does in homes and on the streets. And just to make sense of the things that people are discussing, I decided to make a list. I’ll sort it out in my head slowly – this is too emotive an issue to have a straight clear response.
1.Obviously we all agree that any rape is horrendous and a crime that must be punished rapidly and severely.
2.Were all permissions obtained before showing the documentary?
3.Was it either legal or appropriate to show the documentary given that the case is sub judice.
4.Should the documentary have been banned? And transmission stopped? If it has done so, (i) by what reasoning (ii) under what assumptions (iii) under what sections
5. Did the banning of the documentary actually give it higher viewership than it would ordinarily have attained?
6.Did the banning of the documentary do more harm to India’s image than good?
7. Does the documentary reflect popular or universally held notions of women’s proscribed lives in India?
8. Did the documentary reflect a ‘white supremacist’ set of views on India
9. Did it exocitise, stereotype and dehumanise Indians?
10. Did it tar all Indians with the same brush?
11. Did it reveal India to Indians in ways that made them more ashamed and uncomfortable than they can handle?
12. Did the documentary trigger conversations that would not be had otherwise? Was there any value generated?
13. Should the rapist have been interviewed?
14. Should the views of the rapist be aired? Is it publicity or is it an attempt to understand what must be battled and cured?
15. Does the documentary highlight the frustrations driven by income and class divides in India? Is that a stated or unstated takeaway?
16. Can a documentary be banned in today’s day and age? It will propagate via subterranean channels rapidly if banned.
17. Is it ethical to watch something which your paternalistic government does not want you to see (not a point of law, but ethics)
18. Is there a problem with the fact that an ‘outsider’ pointed fingers at a matter of shame for the city and country?
19. Will the conversation triggered by the documentary contribute to the change of ‘mindset’ that is being blamed for the rape attacks?
20. Does the matter that the set of ‘rules’ for girls as articulated by the rapist are similar to those articulated by the leaders of communities and are echoed by the rapists’ lawyer?
21. Is India reacting more to the documentary about rape culture and the Dec 16 rape more than it does to actual assault on women?
22. Does the documentary insult anyone? (Is insult injury? Who is insulted and why are they feeling the insult?) (Is there an intention to insult?) (Was it made in a respectful manner or is it disrespectful)
23. Is there anything in the documentary that is a fair representation of reality?
24. Does the documentary exploit anyone?
25. Does the documentary and the story of the girl, her family and the upsurge of support make one emotional? What does one do with those emotions?
To have these questions and more is to be given an opportunity to change and grow.
We have been granted this.
I hope we work our way through these questions, combine them in different ways and see where we reach. For example:
(Note the series of ‘if’ statements before you rant)
If the rapist set out a set of rules for ‘good girls’,
if the consequence of violating these rules is to be injured,
if these views about the rules are pervasive if not universal
are all ‘good girls’ living by rapists’ rules?
Let me end with a doha:
Bhali ban-ne mai chali, mo se bhala na koi
Bhalai mein dab ti chali, kaisi bhalai yeh hoi?
I tried to be a good girl, there is no one more good than me
This goodness kept crushing me, what kind of good is this?