“India’s Daughter” - The story of Jyoti Singh, a symbol of freedom

21 December 2015 08:07 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



As featured in the documentary film “India’s Daughter”,  there is a Jyoti Singh in every woman. Like her, every woman has her own dreams, aspirations and goals to be free and independent.  She also has the right to live. No one has the right to ruin her dreams by hacking her to death. Jyoti Singh had her own dreams as a young medical student at the Jawarharlal  Neru University, which was to be a doctor one day and serve the people, while giving her parents a better life.

 Do those who take pleasure in these crimes stop to think that a woman gave birth to them? It is the woman who creates the world. The fact remains, in these issues, that poverty and lack of education play a role.
 It is well-known that whenever an issue such as this arises, the blame goes to the woman; even her own sex does not support her but adds more fuel to the fire.  Thus she is isolated, helpless and has to bear it all alone. If a woman goes out with a man, society thinks of it as something indecent. If a woman is very friendly, easygoing   and sociable, the “saints” and the “angels” of the so called “civilized society” criticize the  woman. This brings to mind the saying, “before  you judge someone, make sure you’re perfect”. Such however, is the mentality of people, especially in the South Asian region; and this foolish mindset should be changed.  Otherwise, the notion of a civilized society will be only a farce. In India, which is a fast developing country and an economic giant in the South Asian region, half the population is poverty-stricken and have not benefited from its development, continuing to live in dirt and misery.  It has been found that in India, a woman gets raped or murdered every 20 minutes while everywhere else in the world, a woman is raped or murdered every minute.  Gang rapes, sexual assaults and murders have increased over the years; such is the gravity of the problem, but sadly, this has become a common issue in society as if it’s the daily weather report.

“India’s Daughter”,  a documentary film produced and directed by Leslee Udwin, was screened in parallel with the launch of the Equality Studies  Global Initiative,  of which she is the founder and was  spearheaded  by Minister Harin Fernando  and the office of the United Nations High commissioner for Human  Rights, at the Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute, Colombo.   The Equality Studies Global Initiative, (ESGI) hopes to introduce an approach to education to support a new generation of equality and human-rights conscious thinkers and global citizens in the context of the UN‘s post -2015 Sustainable Development Goals.  Its purpose is to encourage human rights and life skills education as a compulsory component of education curricula around the world.   The event was held under the patronage of Minister Harin Fernando, with a  distinguished panel of guests  including Director and Producer Leslee Udwin, “India’s Daughter” founder  (ESGI),  Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales,  trustee, (ESGI) Aritha Wickramasinghe,  Executive  Director, Women In Need, (WIN) Savithri Wijesekara and popular media personality and the compere of the occasion Minoli Ratnayake. The distinguished audience consisted of representatives of the media, local and foreign representatives of various organizations.  

In his speech, Minister Harin Fernando said Gender equality could be defined as a man and a woman enjoying equal rights. Gender equality, gender discrimination and   gender relations are however not always understood.  He said gender issues were deeply rooted and widely spread among cultures. In all cultures, gender determines power. Quoting Sheryl Sandburg, he said “if there is a husband who does all the work at home, there are more chances of understanding gender equality”.  As far as Sri Lanka   is concerned, a great deal of policies were enacted regarding women’s rights.  1981 was a very important year for  Sri Lanka  regarding women’s rights.  Additionally the third chapter of the constitutional chapter of fundamental rights  was also enacted in  the constitution.


"Jyoti’s murder became a landmark in Indian history which gave rise to a revolution and made her a symbol of freedom. The protests went on for more than a month until finally the Indian government was forced to take action to ensure the safety of women in future"

Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales,  trustee, “India’s Daughter” founder (ESGI) Aritha Wickramasinghe explained  his initiative in having this programme implemented and read out a message sent by Minister of Women and Children’s affairs Chandrani Bandara who was unable to attend the occasion. The gender problem is a widespread disease around the world. He said the film helped us understand the mindset of people and made us ask the most important questions, “why do people do this? Why do people have prejudices? Why do people rape?”  He thanked all those who attended the occasion for their support. He added that the audience would have a lot to ponder after seeing the film.  

 Director and Producer Leslee Udwin said the perpetrators of this  crime did not have one  bit of remorse.  They genuinely believed that they had not done anything wrong.  These are the characteristics  of Indian society and thinking.  In every culture around the world this kind of thinking still prevails. In Saudi Arabia, a woman can’t drive a car without being arrested. There are statistics and different manifestations of this disease.  Out of the 7 culprits   in jail she had spoken to, only one man had completed secondary school. She also interviewed their lawyers. She understood through this that there was a problem in how we teach our children about responsibilities and obligations.  We have been very irresponsible. How on earth can we teach these men that every human being has a value, regardless of gender? She gave a passionate and emotional speech in which she mentioned her own personal experiences as well.  There is no such thing as bad guys and good guys and there is no such thing as bad women and good men.  She said she had to face many difficulties while making the film, even listening to threats and abusive remarks.  

Executive Director of WIN Ms. Savithri Wijesekara said that if a small child was raped or killed, it would be  discussed for some time but that when it came to a woman, it was not discussed as much. She said women from rural areas were much more straightforward and courageous, holding protests, but that women in Colombo were more hesitant. They are not interested in speaking up, as they seem to think that since they were not victimized they should  keep quiet and mind their own business.  Even if they are victimized, they are afraid to speak up because they fear the story will spread. Still,  in general, there seems to be an increase in women’s participation because they  are  now lodging complaints regarding certain issues and are supporting  their efforts.

In Indian society, the birth of a girl is not a matter to rejoice in. It is considered an unwanted trouble and a burden. “India’s Daughter” is based on the story of a young medical student named         Jyoti Singh,  who was brutally  raped and killed while she was on  her way back  with her boyfriend  after watching a film. An interesting point is the way this gruesome murder was carried out. The perpetrators even went to the extent of pulling out her intestines with an iron rod, an act which went beyond humanity and beyond evil itself.  The film also featured certain so-called intellectuals of  society, psychologists and lawyers, who took the side of the culprits rather than the victim. According to the words of one lawyer, who used flowery phrases like “a girl is like a diamond. She should be protected’’, the matter was rendered quite humorous.  In fact, their opinion and that of the culprits themselves was, “that a decent girl who is unmarried should go out with her  brother or husband, or a relative”.  This is a most ridiculous and stupid answer. If it is alright for the culprits to rape and kill the girl, how can they talk about decency? This shows the mentality of some people, regardless of their profession. The culprits, with not the least bit of remorse, said “they wanted to teach her a lesson for being indecent” . However, it was good to   see women such as a judge, the doctor who treated Jyoti and a writer supporting the unfortunate girl. Jyoti’s  friend and tutor, a man, too supported her.  It was painful to see Jyoti’s parents weeping over  their daughter’s brutal death and there was not a single person in the audience who did not cry.  However, Jyoti’s murder became a landmark in Indian history which gave rise to a revolution and made her a symbol of freedom. The protests went on for more than a month until finally the Indian government was forced to take action to ensure the safety of women in future.  Thus,   every woman has a  right to be respected and given the place that she wants, because in every woman, there lives a “Jyoti Singh”.

  Comments - 1

  • Nethra Tuesday, 22 December 2015 10:47 AM

    What is the use of keeping discussions and meetings with educated masses.These meetings should be held among the villages.Then the intentions can be completed the message will reach the wrong doers.

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