Recently India has banned the broadcast of BBC documentary “India’s Daughter” which includes a controversial interview with a gang-rapist. The film-maker Leslee Udwin had received rare access to the gang-rapist on death row, Mukesh Singh. Home Minister Rajnath Singh summed up the media ban by declaring the prisoner’s interview was “highly derogatory and an affront to the dignity of women.”
Mukesh was one of the men who raped and tortured a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi, in 2012. The group beat the woman’s friend, raped the woman, and then beat her with an iron rod. The woman died from her injuries 13 days later. Mukesh was the bus driver. The crime caused mass uproar and protests across the country.
In an interview for the documentary, Mukesh said:
“A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy…Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things. About 20 percent of girls are good.”
“When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy.”
There’s no remorse or self-awareness in his words. This is victim blaming to the fullest. It seems in his mind, if the woman had not struggled when she was having her body violated and abused by multiple strangers, she’d still be alive today. If only she acted as the empty vessel that Mukesh believed her to be.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh is right in seeing Mukesh’s statements as “highly derogatory and an affront to the dignity of women”, but you know what else is an affront to the dignity of women? Pretending people like Mukesh don’t exist. Pretending that his ideas are so rare, they should be completely unheard. His ideas can’t be so rarely perverse, since there were five other men who thought it was okay to rape and assault a random woman on the same bus. Censoring Mukesh’s words whitewashes the problem that India (among other places) faces. It says, I accept that bad things happen to women, but I don’t want to hear why. We can face the result, but not the reason. We can call it a tragedy, but as soon as the perpetrators start to explain themselves, we want to shut them up. It’s easier to pretend that criminals are like voiceless killers in the movies. It’s easier to call them monsters than to recognize they’re people – horrible people that blend in the crowd, instead of lurking in a swamp or haunted house.
To the Indian officials who are bothered by Mukesh’s opinions, I say: So what? You know what bothers women in India? Being rape victims. Being blamed for crimes against them. Women in India are “bothered” by the fact that Mukesh’s ideas are not rare at all. I understand that horrors that people commit make us uncomfortable and sad, but drawing the blinds in a house fire doesn’t stop it the whole thing from burning.
Images: Main, 1, 2