‘Daughters of Mother India’ Breaks the Silence on Gender Violence
A screen-grab from the National Award winning documentary – Daughters of Mother India. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube/<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqiHEfyAXcM">Daughters of Mother India</a>)
A screen-grab from the National Award winning documentary – Daughters of Mother India. (Photo Courtesy: YouTube/Daughters of Mother India)

‘Daughters of Mother India’ Breaks the Silence on Gender Violence

‘Daughters of Mother India’, the 45-minute documentary on gender crimes received the 62nd National Award from the President of India for Best Film on Social Issues in 2015.

The film was directed and produced by Vibha Bakshi. Ever since, over 200 screenings have been held all over the world.

Vibha Bakshi, Director, Daughters of Mother India. (Photo Courtesy: Payal Mohanka)
Vibha Bakshi, Director, Daughters of Mother India. (Photo Courtesy: Payal Mohanka)
The conspiracy of silence has been broken. We are now talking. We have to talk relentlessly to bring about change. The momentum cannot stop.
Vibha Bakshi, Director, Daughters of Mother India

Bakshi feels that these ‘conversations’ amidst elite sections, at the sarpanch level, in schools, simply everywhere must continue as it is this that will eventually find solutions to the epidemic of gender crimes that are sweeping the nation.

Nirbhaya Rape Case Stirred Her Conscience

Nirbhaya rape case shook the entire nation and forced people to discuss about crime against women. (Photo: Reuters)
Nirbhaya rape case shook the entire nation and forced people to discuss about crime against women. (Photo: Reuters)

Describing the creation of the film as a cry of her conscience as a daughter, a sister, a wife and a mother searching for answers, Vibha began filming after the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical intern, Nirbhaya, in Delhi on December 16, 2012.

The film captures the angry protests that followed as citizens choked the streets of Delhi unleashing an unprecedented show of solidarity.

Nirbhaya’s death shook the collective psyche of the nation and made violence against women a political issue. Three months after her death, the anti-rape law was passed.

When I began screening the film, people just presumed I had daughters. I am a mother of two sons. How I raise my sons is crucial. It will either make me a part of the solution or the problem.
Vibha Bakshi

Gender Violence Manifestation of Deep-Rooted Bias

Gender violence is a result of  biases towards women that exist in society. (Photo: iStock)
Gender violence is a result of biases towards women that exist in society. (Photo: iStock)

Gender violence is the result of a deep-rooted bias. Hence, this bias has to be first corrected in Indian homes.

Bakshi recalls that when she started filming the documentary, the police were not on their side. It was then she realised that police is a mirror image of society.

If we as a society think domestic violence is a ‘gharelu maamla’ you think that cop is going to file the FIR? If we question our girls why they are out so late at night – this is the same thought process the cop is going through when a woman comes for help at midnight. That’s when I realized this fight is not about them vs us. We are in this together.
Vibha Bakshi

First Call of Help: Toughest Moment While Filming

It was the first time that a film crew was allowed inside the capital’s police control and command room.

For the film-maker, the toughest moment was when the call for help came from the family of 5-year old who had been gang-raped. Vibha accompanied the police. The horrific scene she witnessed is the most painful experience of her life.

Mukesh Singh, one of the rapists in the Nirbhaya rape case. (Photo Courtesy: Youtube)
Mukesh Singh, one of the rapists in the Nirbhaya rape case. (Photo Courtesy: Youtube)

Brutally raped, the minor girl had a 200 ml bottle inserted inside her along with three candles. Shocked beyond belief, Vibha almost abandoned the project. It was her husband Vishal, who urged her to continue.

You cannot unsee what you have seen.
Vishal, Vibha’s husband

Vibha’s Film to Sensitise the Cops on Treating Women

The Indian Police Academy will be using this documentary, which has been translated in eight languages, as a training film to sensitise the forces on treating women with respect.

So far it is the screenings in Haryana that have had the most impact. With the Director-General of Police leading the initiative, 150 sarpanch leaders – 30 of whom are women, members of the police force, local leaders and students watched the film together.

A passionate exchange followed. A poem was recited about how a young girl’s innocent queries – ‘Why was her brother being sent to school and not her? Why was she not allowed to go to the places he was’ were met with ‘Chup ho ja (Be silent).’

Many of them told me this is the first time we are having such a conversation. The daughter has to be silent and keep the laaj (honour) of the family while the taaj (crown) is put on the son.
Vibha Bakshi

For the moment, the film-maker’s mission has been accomplished. The silence is finally breaking. A much-needed small step in a very long journey ahead – to combat deeply entrenched patriarchy.

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