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The Nirbhaya Documentary- An Opportunity Lost?

For the last couple of days, I have been watching NDTV debates on this, reading and commenting on various articles shared through facebook, watched the documentary itself….various objections have been raised against this documentary (I am not going to list these), and various responses have been given to these objections. In all of this, what is now beginning to sink into me is the enormous amount of energy and time we have spent in criticizing or defending the documentary. Here is an opportunity- a film that has got this subject back into our national consciousness, gives us an opportunity to discuss, reflect and understand the nature of sexual violence. We should not lose this opportunity- let us discuss this now- let this film be just one of many inputs. Given how short our memories are, this debate will stop in a week or two, and it would be a shame if we just released our feelings in a cathartic fashion, and learnt nothing about why sexual violence happens in this process. Time and energy are valuable, so why spend even a moment on whether this is a well intentioned or well made documentary etc.- why not focus all our energies on trying to understand what is happening and learn through discussion?

The lawyer Sharma who said ‘women are flowers’ on the NDTV show and was shouted down by all the people in the studio, looked genuinely confused as to how his view that ‘women should be protected’ was problematic. I am sure there are hundreds and thousands of ‘good, nice’ people who don’t see the connection- I myself don’t claim to see all the connections- nor do I claim that there is no part of me that does not look at a woman as an object. These people need empathic understanding and education- here is an opportunity to both understand and educate. Chetan Bhagat said that he would show this film to ‘slum dwellers’ on a TV show, and Shabana Azmi very rightly castigated him immediately for this classist statement- do not rich people in high-rises commit rape? But Chetan did not seem to understand Shabana’s point and went on- he needs to be educated on this (his deep-rooted bias surfaced in this conversation- I do not judge or condemn him for it, he too needs to be educated). And these are just a couple of points- there are probably different types of rape, and different reasons for this.

I am starting to read the wikipedia page which seems like a good place to start-


This article also seems to have some good pointers-


If you would like to discuss this topic, I am happy to do this through comments on this blog, and learn.