email@example.com (Dr. Jai Maharaj): Mar 10 08:53PM
'The Hunting Ground' Sheds New Light On Campus Rape Epidemic
By Neesha Arter The Daily Beast thedailybeast.com February 26, 2015
A new documentary follows two activists around the country as they talk to fellow survivors about the trauma of rape and the triumph of survival.
Rape has always been a taboo topic in our society, but lately that seems to be changing thanks to activists like Annie Clark and Andrea Pino.
Clark and Pino are leading the crusade for Title IX -- a federal legislation most famous for sports equality, but which prohibits all discrimination (including sexual harassment and violence) on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding -- and the Clery Act, which grants protections for sexual assault victims on college campuses. They recently made their film debut as activists in the new documentary "The Hunting Ground," by Oscar-nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering.
Pino graduated valedictorian of her high school and was the first of her family to leave her home state of Florida to go to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Clark, a North Carolina native and high school athlete, wanted to stay in state for college and chose Chapel Hill as well. Having both survived rape while college students, they eventually created End Rape On Campus, a survivor advocacy organization dedicated to ending sexual violence.
The film notes that 16 to 20 percent of undergraduate women are sexually assaulted in college, and 88 percent of women raped on campus do not report.
The documentary follows the two women as they drive cross-country to meet with other sexual assault survivors on college campuses who wish to file complaints against their schools. Clark, who became a campus administrator at the University of Oregon after graduation, reflects in the film, "I basically had to make a choice if I wanted to continue to support survivors or have my actual administrative job at a university. I figured I could do more good this way, so I resigned."
The film notes that 16 to 20 percent of undergraduate women are sexually assaulted in college, and 88 percent of women raped on campus do not report. Pino details her violent assault as a second year student. She says, "It all happened really quickly. I was actually a virgin, so that adds a bit to it. He just started pulling me towards the bathroom. He grabbed my head by the side of my ear and slammed it against the bathroom tile and it didn't stop."
[Caption] BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi reacts to the controversy over the ban on the Nirbhaya documentary.
The Nirbhaya incident was a heinous and utterly condemnable crime. We, as a society, have anything but shied away from talking about it, protesting against it, writing about it and acting on it. We have been working so hard to make sure that the 'mindset change' that our society has spoken of innumerable times is actually put into action. I have personally invested a lot to fight for the rights of women over the span of my professional career. I had worked hard with my party to draft robust recommendations, more than seventy percent of which were accepted and incorporated, to ensure change and empower women. Our MPs stood shoulder to shoulder across party lines in Parliament, at a time of political uncertainty, to ensure that this important change was brought about in our system after the Nirbhaya incident.
Given this, I ask you to stop and think why an objection should have been raised against this documentary. We have several documentaries and films depicting the status of women in India, incidents of violence and the post- Nirbhaya scenario but none of these documentaries needed to be stalled.
But here is why this particular documentary has been nothing but a deceitful exercise from the very start.
Instead of sticking to its stated objective of a social purpose, this documentary has taken on an underhand commercial sheen. The filmmakers had expressly taken permission for social research but eventually took it for broadcast on BBC 4 which by no stretch of imagination can be called a social research platform. Why did the filmmakers hesitate to reveal these intentions when they took permission from the Indian government if their motive was not to be deceitful?
Secondly, the filmmakers had signed a legal undertaking to submit their unedited footage to the authorities but this was not done. Despite the same being conveyed by the Government and the jail authorities, they further flouted and disrespected our law by releasing the documentary to the Indian audience, without so much so as a warning of the explicit and adult nature of the content, and not even to a targeted audience for 'social research', as they had claimed. Was your intention truly to posit a social agenda or was it only a sick manipulation for commercial gain?
A restraining order was issued pending investigation of the issue and instead of respecting the Government that gave you permission, you go against this order, prepone the release and use the ban to further malign the reputation of the country! The law also prevents you from taking the name of the victim but, like every other count, you chose to ignore and disrespect our law. Somewhere a line had to be drawn against such deceit and manipulation. With such obvious commercial tactics, I fail to see when this self-proclaimed 'social purpose' will kick in.
The Government had given you the liberty to film here and you return this favour by utterly misusing this liberty and show absolute contempt for the law of the land. What choice was there but to ban the film eventually in light of the above? The same laws would have applied to anyone who made a documentary here and there is no reason why it should be any different for a foreigner who agreed to submit to our jurisdiction and laws, albeit deceitfully.
If this documentary was supposed to be fair, shouldn't the action taken by our society have also been shown as a 'mirror' to who we are? If you come here with pre- conceived notions of a sick society, it becomes hard to look beyond those coloured thoughts to notice that our law is so progressive and protective that a woman's statement in a rape case is sufficient for prosecution under rape. This is how far we have advanced in tackling this problem unlike many other countries where this level of indignation is not raised in society for sexual violence against women. In other countries, rape incidences do not even make it to the local or national news. However, in the past two years, India has seen unusual international coverage of every single incident. In other countries, not even a handful of people have turned around, like we did, to gain justice in the case of Nirbhaya.
While we froth about the rapes happening in India, I would like to point out that rape and violence against women is a deep-rooted issue from Washington to Bogota to London. India has a conviction rate of 41.5% whereas in other 'progressive' countries such as the UK it is as low as 26.5%. What this shows is that not enough is being done for the protection of women against abuses across the world. It is all the more surprising then why international media outlets have not reported this skew and higher incidence of rapes closer to their own home. Why are they shying away from reporting the brutal rapes, abuse of women and serial killings that are happening in the western countries at the same time and with much greater frequency than in India?
The hypocrisy in all this is that the BBC does not have to go very far from its homestead to find a story of sexual abuse. Its former host Jimmy Savile has been accused of hideous sexual crimes but shockingly with all its tall claims of a high-handed moral agenda, it would appear that BBC has made no such documentary explaining the mind of Jimmy Savile despite having had him so close at hand for so many years. In fact, when BBC's competitor ITV finally did air an exposure documentary on Savile they chose to do it at a late night 11.15 pm slot with caution and responsibility.
If BBC was so intent on showing the film, why is it that they could not at least show the same responsibility in broadcasting it to the Indian masses? It has only been impertinent, defiant of Indian law and absolutely insistent on showing a rape that occurred in India. This gives all the more reason to think that this is not about respect and good intentions but the exact opposite - the only intention is to show a growing India in a bad light.
Has BBC also forgotten about the more recent Rotherham case involving the brutal sexual exploitation of 1,400 children who suffered for many long years? What has stopped the righteous BBC or the director of the Nirbhaya documentary from covering this with as much panache and holding up a 'mirror' to society in this case? Or was it that the director did not receive permission in her own society to cover it? The director was quick to call our society 'sick'. But I fail to understand how this discriminatory attitude can continue when there are more sexual crimes happening in her own country and with a much lower conviction rate.
I had invested personally in ensuring that the high court allowed the press to cover the Nirbhaya trial and need not be told twice about how important it is to get the message out to society. Rest assured, I know that this can be done without contravening the law if it is done with the right intention. But you cannot do it with suspect intentions that do not pass the test in your own home. It is with complete understanding that we are in the internet age where the material could have been accessed despite a ban that the Parliament still stood its ground to show its sense of morality and contempt for such violation of the Indian law and journalistic ethics. There is no moral high ground to be taken when you cross that line.
This documentary has created a false impression of demonising the Indian man and dishing us out as a perverted society. That is not who we are. Who we are is a society that came out in unprecedented numbers to protest the commission of a brutal rape - unprecedented because one will be hard-pressed to find a situation of outrage as vociferous and as vast as the one that happened in India in any other part of the world for a case of rape. Who we are is a society that pushed a lacklustre government to enact and implement a criminal amendment law in 2013 to award the most stringent punishment of the land - the death penalty.
Who we are is a society that celebrates the courage and strength of the woman each year on December 16 to remind ourselves of the promise that we have made to fight against violence against women. We are growing as a country and recognise that it is not only women who are in this fight but that men also hold an equally important place in campaigning alongside us. We don't need to invoke our mothers, sisters and wives or even daughters to engender that respect. BBC should consider making use of such a campaign on its home ground where the problem is more acute than setting out to paint India in a bad light.
This has become like the ubiquitous Che Guevara t-shirt you find in markets everywhere - the seller does not know what he is selling, the buyer does not know what he is buying and the producer does not know what he is producing. But everybody must continue on unthinkingly. It appears that this film is also supposed to be like a Che Guevara t-shirt. But no matter, one pertinent question will still be raised - when the problem of rape is of the world at large, why is only India being covered globally?
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firstname.lastname@example.org (Dr. Jai Maharaj): Mar 10 06:52PM
Dr. Jai Maharaj posted: > is of the world at large, why is only India being covered > globally?