The documentary India’s Daughter is based on the the Delhi gang rape (16 Dec 2012). The documentary, apart from narrating that gruesome event, consists of many interviews. Among those interviewed were the victim Jyoti Singh’s parents, one of the convicted rapists Mukesh Singh, defense lawyers and many other people related to the case.The most appalling statement that sent me reeling was made by one of the defense lawyers: “If my daughter or sister engaged in premarital 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.”
Bhashkor Banerjee, a seventy year old man played by Amitabh Bachchan in the movie Piku believes that only a woman of low IQ would get married and dedicate her life to taking care of her husband and his home. He doesn’t want his emotionally and financially independent 30 year old daughter, Piku, to commit that folly. In fact he actively dissuades interested suitors by letting them know that his daughter isn’t a virgin and is sexually active, and ruins her dinner date. He has no qualms about disrupting her life by being a constant nag, and feels that the only person she should take care of is him.
Both the above views about the role of a daughter in a family and what she means to them are extreme. Because they are so extreme it is highly visible too. In most of our cases since it is subtle we either miss it or ignore it except for few smart ones who cleverly manoeuver their family views to work in their favour.
I was shocked speechless in my thirties by my mother’s statement to me that only my dad and my brother have the right to take decisions pertaining to family matters. So what was I to my family then, a “convenience”?? I had actively participated in and supported all my family affairs may it be financial, emotional, physical, social…… I think somewhere there I was under the impression that I had earned enough brownie points from my family to be looked upon as a very important member of the group. So my mother’s statement came as a rude shock. I felt betrayed! I felt used and thrown! I felt angry and bitter!
Today I realize that what I actually wanted from them was MY EMPOWERMENT. How naive and stupid of me to have believed that power given to you by others is empowerment. It took me this incident to realize that I was looking in wrong direction : outside instead of WITHIN.