Today is International Women’s Day, and whilst Feministe has historically received flak for sometimes myopic, U.S.-centric feminism, today’s post is at the globetrotting end of the spectrum. Were you disappointed by recent news that India’s misogynists have succeeded in intimidating England’s BBC into actively pulling Leslee Udwin’s rape culture documentary from YouTube’s servers in California? Long story short, India’s Daughter is now considered contraband, much like vibrators in Alabama. So we sat and laboriously typed up a transcript of Udwin’s film, in all its damning glory.
For those who’ve been off the Internet lately, India’s Daughter explores the culture that made the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh inevitable, and the response from ordinary Indians fed up with rape as an inevitable facet of society. Most publicity has revolved around the banal sexism of the apologists interviewed, but the film features everyone from parents to magistrates to students, talking about fighting back against rape culture. Predictably the film makes India’s government look stupid, hence their move to suppress the film online.
This is intended to be a full transcript, with brackets indicating blanks we’ll fill in the near future. If you want to watch the film instead of reading it, there are YouTube hacks for finding it surreptitiously. But you’re not missing much by not literally watching it – like many documentaries, it consists mostly of talking heads. Rather, the words form the most powerful components of the film. So, onto the words…
(Excerpts deserving of trigger warnings are bolded for rape culture, graphic descriptions of sexual violence, and flagrantly ultra-conservative nonsense.)
BBC: Now on BBC Four, a change to our schedule. Storyville reports on a harrowing case that shocked the world, the rape and murder of a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012, with scenes of a disturbing nature and graphic descriptions of sexual violence. It’s India’s Daughter.
This film has been made with the cooperation of Asha and Badri Singh, the rape victim’s parents.
A Delhi court has blocked the showing of the film in India.
Delhi, 16 December 2012
NARRATOR: On 16th December 2012, at around 8:30 PM, a 23-year-old medical student was on her way home from a movie with a male friend. The couple boarded a private bus, which claimed to be going their way. Her friend was badly beaten and she was dragged to the back, where she was gang-raped by 6 men, as the bus drove round and round the highways. According to the latest government figures, a woman is raped in India every 20 minutes, but most rapes are unreported. This rape led to unprecedented protest erupting across India. The silence has been broken.
PROTESTERS: This is our country too. You can’t force yourself on us. We want justice!
India’s Daughter: The story of Jyoti Singh
[Jyoti’s parents discuss Jyoti’s childhood.]
ASHA: In many homes, they celebrate when a boy is born, but when a girl is born, people don’t rejoice as much. We gave out sweets and everyone said, “You’re celebrating as if it’s a boy.” So we said we’re equally happy having a boy or a girl.
[Badri discusses Jyoti’s goals.]
ASHA: We told her we don’t have the money. How will we make her a doctor? She said, “Papa, whatever money you’ve saved for my wedding, use that to educate me.”
[Satendra discusses Jyoti’s tutoring.]
ASHA: We sold our ancestral land to pay her fees.
BADRI: My brothers didn’t like this one bit. The first thing they said was, “Why are you selling it for a girl?”
SATENDRA: Jyoti used to say that the first and biggest problem in India is mentality. The differences between a girl and a boy are created in people’s minds from birth. In society, if we hear the same things about boys and girls, obviously a certain view is created.
Convicted of: rape, unnatural sex, murder
Sentenced to: Death By Hanging
MUKESH: You can’t clap with one hand. It takes two hands to clap. A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.
[Satendra discusses Jyoti’s nightshifts.]
SATENDRA: She always used to say, “A girl can do anything.”
MUKESH: Boy and girl are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night, doing wrong things, wearing the wrong clothes. About 20% of girls are good.
FOR THE RAPISTS
SHARMA: A female is just like a flower. It gives a good-looking, very softness performance, pleasant. But on the other hand, a man is just like a thorn. Strong, tough enough. That flower always needs protection. If you put that flower in a gutter, it is spoilt. If you put that flower in a temple, it will be worshipped.
[Mukesh discusses daily routine.]
[Jyoti’s parents discuss Jyoti’s daily routine.]
SHARMA: That girl was with some unknown boy who took her on a date. In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person.
FOR THE RAPISTS
SINGH: If very important, if very necessary, she should go outside but she should go with their family members like uncle, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, etc., etc. So she should not go in night hours with her boyfriend.
ASHA: Whenever there’s a crime, the girl is blamed, “She should not go out. She shouldn’t roam around so late or wear such clothes.” It’s the boys who should be accused and asked why they do this. They shouldn’t do this.
SHARMA: They left our Indian culture. They were under the imagination of the film culture, in which they can do anything.
[Mukesh discusses kissing.]
SHARMA: She should not be put on the streets just like food. The ‘lady’, on the other hand, you can say the ‘girl’ or ‘woman’, are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop it.
SATENDRA: What was Jyoti’s crime? That she went out at night?
SHARMA: You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. A woman means I immediately put the sex in his eyes. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.
MUKESH: The 15 or 20 minutes of the incident, I was driving the bus. They switched off the lights. My brother was the main guy. They hit the boy and he just hid between the seats. The girl was screaming, “Help me! Help me!” My brother said, “Don’t stop the bus. Keep driving!” They hit her and dragged her to the back. Then they went in turns. First the juvenile and Ram Singh. After that, Akshay and the rest went. Someone put his hand inside her and pulled out something long. It was her intestines. He said, “She’s dead. Throw her out quickly.” First, they tried the back door, but it didn’t open. So they dragged her to the front. They threw her out. My drunk state wore off completely. I couldn’t even control the steering. I only drove the bus. It’s lies that my brother or Akshay took the steering. Only I drove. People say this happened, that happened, that the driver was changed. Show me how we changed drivers, and I’ll accept I also went to the back and killed her.
[Mukesh’s parents discuss rapists.]
MUKESH: We went straight home. They were saying, “Where’s their stuff?” It was in the front. The mobile, the watch. Pawan put the shoes one, Akshay put the jacket on. They wore the stuff. They had no fear. And on the way, the juvenile said, “Sir, I threw it away. What I pulled out of her body, I threw it away. I wrapped it in cloth and threw it out.” We reached home in about 10 minutes. We agree no one would say anything, and if the police got involved, no one would name names. There was a lot of blood. Blood on the seats, blood on the floor. Akshay and the juvenile both cleaned the bus. Vinay had a lot of blood on his hands. He washed them at my house. I went to sleep.
FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE
MEMBER OF RAPE REVIEW COMMITTEE
SETH: The rape was extremely brutal and it’s something very unusual to find that you not only rape the girl, but you put an iron rod and take out her entrails. I mean this is something I can’t understand. What kind of human beings are these who do something like that?
MUKESH: I can’t say why this incident – this accident – happened. Mainly to teach them a lesson.
Dr Maria Misra
WRITER & HISTORIAN
Oxford University, Keble College
MISRA: The idea of the gang rape is to send a message. You are not to breach this boundary. This is a boundary between us and you to do with power.
SHARMA: He would like to create a damage. He will put his hand. Insert, hit! It is just like that kind of action. Beat him. Putting his hand forcefully inside.
Dr Sandeep Govil
OF THE RAPISTS
GOVIL: The main mental set-up is, “It’s our right. We are just in enjoyment mode, and everybody has a right to enjoyment. Big people, you know, somebody who has money, do it by payment. We have the courage, so we do it by our courage.” That’s what they feel.
MUKESH: My brother has done such things before, but this time his intention was not to rape or fight. He had the right to explain to them. He asked the boy why he was out with a girl so late at night. The boy said, “It’s none of your business,” and slapped him. There was fighting, beating. Those who raped, raped. They thought that if they do “wrong things” with them, then they won’t tell anyone. Out of shame. They’d learn a lesson.
MISRA: Before this event, there was still a very, very strong culture of shame around rape, that to be raped was deeply shaming, that to be raped was worse than to be dead, in fact, and so you would get politicians saying the most extraordinary things about rape victims, that it was better that a rape victim had died because if she lived, she’d just be a walking corpse.
MUKESH: 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.
KUMAR: On December 16th, it was very cold. I was patrolling in this area. I heard a voice from the left screaming, “Help! Help!” I saw a boy and girl lying on the ground, naked. Both were here. I went to Hotel 37 and got a bed sheet and a bottle of water. I tore the bed sheet into two and gave the girl and the boy a piece each. About 30-35 men gathered, but no one helped. I even said, “Please help,” but no one stepped forward. After some time, a PCR van arrived and they were taken to the hospital. She looked like a cow looks after giving birth to a calf.
[Jyoti’s parents discuss Jyoti’s rape.]
[Gynaecologist discusses Jyoti’s injuries.]
[Police commissioner discusses rapists.]
[Mukesh discusses police.]
ALL INDIA PROGRESSIVE
KRISHNAN: Most of us heard about the case very soon after it happened on December 17th, the very next day, and almost immediately students of the [unintelligible] university, there is a very powerful student union there and student movement there. The student organisations and the union from there immediately came out on the streets and protest on the same day.
[Misra discusses women’s status.]
SETH: There are many gang rapes that take place in India and they’ve been taking place over the years, but somehow this caught the imagination of people. For one thing, it happened in the capital city. It happened in an evening out, not a late hour, 8 o’clock, a young girl and boy returning home from a movie. I mean it was the most normal kind of behaviour.
PROTESTERS: We will raise our voice and take our freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Freedom! Tell our comrades we will fight! We will fight! We will fight!
[Police commissioner discusses investigation.]
[Families of rapists discuss police.]
PROTESTERS: Wake up! Wake up! We won’t tolerate rape! Long live woman’s freedom! Your freedom, my freedom!
[Police commissioner discusses judicial process.]
[Protesters discuss judicial process.]
KRISHNAN: Immediately, almost from day one, it had stopped being about this case alone. It had become about rape culture and about [unintelligible], against being told that they could do something to remain safe.
IT’S A DRESS, NOT A YES
DON’T TEACH ME WHAT TO WEAR, TEACH YOUR SONS NOT TO RAPE
AM I SAFE
[Police commissioner discusses Delhi’s crime rate.]
[Krishnan discusses Jyoti’s case’s impact.]
[Protester’s mum talks about Jyoti’s case’s impact.]
SAXENA: I painted a bunch of placards, just saying, “Women, take back your city”, nothing inciting violence or anything, and we’re walking down to India Gate, and we get accosted by a truck full of policemen saying, “You can’t go here. It’s not allowed.” They just decided that, “We’re not going to let these women question us anymore. It’s not their place to do that.” So we decided to challenge them. We decided we got civil rights. You can’t just stop us from going anywhere. That’s one of the freedoms granted to us by the constitution. And then things got ugly. They started pulling, dragging and shoving us into a van, saying, “We’re putting you in lockdown now.”
SAXENA’S MOTHER: My husband says I’m stupid because I go and protest without bothering about the consequences, but that day was a slap in my face. I really thought if you’re an educated woman and if you’re courageous and you’re outspoken, really, what can the police do? It was a completely peaceful protest, and then within 20 minutes, it turned into a warzone.
[Seth discusses public pressure.]
[Misra discusses Verma Committee.]
SENIOR ADVOCATE, SUPREME COURT
CO-AUTHOR OF VERMA REPORT
SUBRAMANIUM: This was not just about rape and an amendment to the criminal law. We three were very determined that we were not going to let down society. Offences against women were a part of the story. The full story needed to be told. We felt that we would fail fantastic civil society, which gathered around India Gate with candles, if we did not tell them the true story.
SETH: The constitution provides for equality. It hasn’t happened because the men don’t allow it to happen, and they feel that that’s their hold on women, and also it’s because historical tradition, of patriarchy which has been over the years embedded into men and into women.
[Misra and Seth discuss violence against women.]
[Misra and Subramanium discuss public pressure.]
[Jyoti’s parents discuss Jyoti’s death.]
SATENDRA: Once she went to the market with her friends. A 10- or 12-year-old boy tried to snatch her purse and run away. But a policeman caught him and started beating him. Jyoti stopped the policeman from beating him. She said, “This child will learn nothing from this.” She asked the boy, “Why did you do this?” He said, “I also want new clothes like you people, I want shoes. I want a hamburger. Jyoti bought him everything he wanted. And she said, “Promise me you won’t do this again.”
[NGO head discusses juvenile poverty.]
[Juvenile rapist’s family discusses poverty.]
[Mukesh’s parents discuss poverty]
[Mukesh discusses poverty and violence.]
GOVIL: They all actually came from very deprived conditions, where their surroundings are not a very good place, and there’s overcrowding. That’s a very common scene that women have been tortured and beaten, or sexually abused by their male partners or husbands. And they have seen prostitution also running in their area, in the neighbourhood area also. So it’s not very new to them. That’s what actually makes them again and again surprised, “Why us?”
BADRI: To call them human is to give humanity a bad name. If we call them monsters, even monsters have some limits. They are totally the devil. They went beyond all limits of evil. Even the devil himself couldn’t commit such a terrible crime.
SUBRAMANIUM: Nobody is a monster that he is excluded from society. After all, any society which has these rapists has to take responsibility for them, and this is the first thing which the feminist callers who came before the Verma Committee said, that these are our people. These men are ours.
GOVIL: I would say as a psychiatrist that they are actually normal human beings with anti-social traits in them, which actually manifested very badly at that time. They have been doing such crimes and easily getting away with that. They have been doing such crimes and easily getting away with that. So that whenever they feel there is a chance they could trap a woman, they do it. There are people in jail who have done 200 rapes and been only punished for about twelve. They say they only remember 200, they might be doing more. That’s the state of affairs. They say that’s been happening and that it’s a “man’s right”. They don’t think of the other person as a human being. The negative cultural values about women are also very, very important in this type of act.
DELHI CHIEF MINISTER (1998-2013)
DIXIT: If you come from a family where things like this are seen by those who are growing up, they tend to look at it very differently. They say, “Well, my sister was given less milk than I am. I’m given a whole glass of milk because everybody thinks in the family I am the boy and I must get more energy, and my sister is just given a little bit of milk, or she eats last of all. Now these are society’s practices which somehow get embedded in the mind. Many of our people grow up thinking that a girl is less important than the boy, and because she’s less important, you can do what you like with her.
[Badri discusses juvenile rapist’s light sentence.]
ASHA: If the law thinks it is right to marry a girl at the age of 12 or 13, then a 15-16 year old boy who rapes or harms a girl, why can’t he be punished?
PROTESTERS: Hang the rapists! Hang them! Hang them! Hang the rapists! Hang them! Hang them!
SINGH: A number of criminal cases of murder, robbery, rape are pending against approximately 250 members of parliament. Sitting members of parliament. But their cases are not being tried in fast-track courts. Their cases are not being tried based on day-to-day hearings. Why? If you want to give a message to society against rape, against robbery, against murder, then you should start from your own neck.
[NGO head discusses public opinion.]
PROTESTERS: Hang them! Hang them! Hang the juvenile too! Hang them! Hang them! Hang the rapists! Hang them!
SINGH: If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight. This is my stand. I still today stand by that reply.
[Rapist’s wife discusses case’s personal impact.]
MUKESH: The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, “Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.” Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.
[Mukesh’s mother discusses case’s personal impact.]
BADRI: When I saw them, they had no fear in their eyes, no shame. No remorse at all for what they had done.
SATENDRA: Those who commit heinous crimes have no remorse afterwards. The law will punish them, and must do so, or they’ll be fearless. But if one monster is removed, will the society change? No. The people of this society and their mind-set need to change.
SETH: The only way that you can change things is education, because education gives a girl self-importance, self-worth, and it also teaches young men the value of the women.
MISRA: Her death has made a huge difference. I think that first of all, it has really brought home the problems of the way women are perceived, young and independent women are perceived in Indian society. It’s opening up a debate in India that I think hasn’t been held publicly and widely about exactly what the relationship between men and women should be.
SETH: These things will change. It’s only because of how hard we push, and I think that if the young people are going to push, we’re going to get it.
BADRI: Our daughter’s name is Jyoti Singh. We have no problem in revealing her name. In fact, we are happy to reveal it. Jyoti has become a symbol. In death, she has lit such a torch not only in this country, but throughout the whole world. But at the same time, she posed a question. What is the meaning of a “woman”? How is she looked upon by society today? And I wish that whatever darkness there is in this world should be dispelled by this light.
ASHA: The last thing that she said to me, she took my hands in hers and kissed them and said, “Sorry, Mummy. I gave you so much trouble. I am sorry.” The sound of her breathing stopped, and the lines on the monitor flattened.
BADRI: This incident was a storm which came and went. And what was there before it, and what will come after, this is what we need to see.
The case has gone to a final appeal at the Indian Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court has yet to pass judgement on the original verdict and sentencing.
4 of the perpetrators remain on Death Row.
The juvenile is scheduled for release in December 2015.