Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Kavita Krishnan on 'Daughters of India' campaign: Solidarity is what we want, not a civilising mission

(In this article Kavita Krishnan makes a very strong argument as to how the so called 'Daughters of India' campaign, irrespective of the intentions, plays at the hands of the stubborn patriarchy in the present-day world. It is easy and rather tempting to pinpoint some men as monstrous criminals responsible for ghastly violence against women but are we pushing the overall context with many more important details to irrelevance in our effort to simplify a complex issue? She asks some prudent questions.) 

I am beset with a growing sense of unease at the global publicity campaign surrounding the release of a film by Leslee Udwin called India's Daughter. The film's subject is the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape and the movement that followed it. The film is to be released on March 8, and we can discuss it after we have seen it. But I would like to flag some concerns about the "Daughters of India" campaign that is due to be launched in the wake of the film, and about the response to the film in India.
Two articles about the film in the Guardian of March 1, 2015 ("UK director gets star backing for 'daughters of India' campaign", and "India's Daughter: 'I made a film on rape in India. Men's brutal attitudes truly shocked me") tell us something about this campaign.
First, the campaign's name is intriguing.
Why refer to India's girls and women as "daughters"?
Anyone who was paying attention to the movement that flooded India's streets after December 16, would have noticed the anger of the women protesters against being identified as "daughters", "mothers", "sisters" instead of as individual women in their own right. One of the most important things about that campaign was the rejection of patriarchal protectionism that offered "daughters" protection but only by denying daughters freedom. Since then, we have also seen political campaigns (in Muzaffarnagar, for instance, and also the "love jihad" bogey) unleashing hatred and violence against the minority community in the name of "saving daughters". Hailing Indian women as "India's daughters" is something India's patriarchs including Indian government's and the most anti-feminist forces in India have always done. Why does a global campaign against gender violence do the same?

Read more in DailyO here