India’s Daughter

Dear Vi,
It’s been long since I wrote to you. As usual, I had been busy with something or the other. Nowadays thankfully my days are complete and occupied with some or the other activity.
The reason that I want to write to you so badly today is something that has been bothering me. I am a very sensitive person I realise. Whenever something bad or untoward happens anywhere in the world, I just can’t get over it soon. I think and I think. I ponder over the feelings of the various persons involved in the whole episode. What each one must have been thinking at that point of incident. And why such and such thing happened.
The incident that is currently not letting me sleep, is the release of the documentary called “India’s Daughter”. I don’t know if you will able to watch it since it has been banned by the Government of India and they have asked YouTube to remove it from all the channels.
I don’t know the reason for the ban and whatever reason I hear being said over the social media, just doesn’t really make any sense.
This documentary is about a girl called Jyothi Singh from Delhi, India. A hard working physiotherapy student born to financially weak but progressive thinking parents. Jyothi wanted to be a doctor because she believed that was the best profession to help others. She studied hard and worked night shifts to support herself and pay her hostel fees. ‘She’ was never a burden to her parents. She was going to be the one who changed their fortunes. But never would. Because she chose to go to the movies with a friend, a male friend of hers after a month of stress filled exams. Yes, that’s the reason she died, according to the people who killed her. Now you may feel, why should anyone be killed for going to the movies and what does it matter if it was a male friend or female. This, darling, is the mindset of many people maybe not just in India. She was raped and left to die by a bunch of men, 5 men. Who didn’t  think they were doing anything wrong while raping her, nor when they did inhumane things to her, nor when they got arrested, nor when they were finally hanged. They didn’t feel it was fair to punish them. “What crime have we done?” asks one of the accused. He says, “We were teaching her a lesson”. They assumed that she was a “bad girl” just becayse she was out of her house at 8 pm and they felt it was “not appropriate behaviour”. They had no clue about the girl or her life. And they have no right to say what is wrong and right and they have no further right to teach her a lesson. Who did they think they were? Her parents?? Her teachers?? And what kind of lesson is this that kills someone? Who gave them this false notion that they can “teach others lessons”. If you ask me, I would say it’s their upbringing, their education or lack of in this case and the false notions of manhood that the society puts on them. To say it was hurtful to watch the accused say such things is to put my feelings really mildly. Then there were 2 lawyers, 2 so-called educated men who spoke such utter nonsense that I felt they were plain “stupid”. (And with so many grammatical mistakes that made my skin creep further) They warrant neither my attention nor my anger. The good news is that the Bar Council of India has decided to take disciplinary action against these 2 scumbags.
Now that’s out of my head, I feel a little at peace. What can I do to change this state of affairs in our country. I have no clue darling. I wish I knew what I could do. To change the set up of things. I am trying really hard so that you grow up to be a sensitive person. Who views other human beings as equals irrespective of their gender, caste, religion or social standing. I am hoping that I can always help you to keep your feet firming on the ground. There are lot of things Amma would like to do and one of the first things would be that Education be available to all. Yes, Education is very very important but its not the kind of rote memorisation that I am talking about. I am talking about teaching values, life lessons and skills that help us to go forward in life. The values I have are not only from my parents. My teachers have influenced me in so many ways that I always feel that good teachers are the best people to lay down the building blocks of any human’s life. But education alone will not change anything since I have seen many well educated people having less awareness than a 5 year old. Parents and society have to understand and realise that its not just about teaching girls what is right and what is not to be done. It is also important to teach our boys the same things. I often think what would be different if you were a girl, like would I bring you up in a different way? No, I wouldn’t. The values I want you to have will be the same if you were a boy or a girl. One of the things that I am teaching or trying to teach you is consent. I am hoping that as you grow up you will be able to understand the depth of this word and what all it means and doesnt.

Consent: Understanding consent is a very difficult thing for many people. People mistake a short skirt to be a form of consent, a girl at a bar to be a form of consent, out on the roads at 10pm as a form of consent. You might not be able to understand any of this now. But you sure understand when you want to hold one of your girl friends’ hand and she says “no”, that there is no consent there. Earlier you used to cry in such situation, but slowly you are learning that when someone says “no” it means “no”. I know its hard. But its the same for you. You dont like it when one of the girls in your class touches your face. You say “no” to her and you do really expect her to stop. So its the same with all. When they are not confortable with something they say “Stop” “No” “Dont do it”. It all means the same.

I hope you will understand things by and by and grow up to be a sensitive human being more than anything else.

Love Amma


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