Actress Nandita Das joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the need for stronger anti-rape laws.
Q. Madam, the country does not lack any laws; They have severe laws. They lack the implementation : Trials take lot of time and thus helping the accused: So do you feel the any new stricter law will solve the issue? Asked by: SIVAKUMAR IYER BS
A. Both are needed. While we fight for implementation, more police cooperation, removal of stigma, sexism per se, we need to also ask for more stringent laws. It is not an either or situation.
Q. Can you suggest way that can make women more secure in India? Asked by: Sneha
A. There is no one answer for it. Sadly many things have to change simultaneously. Most importantly women need to be respected as human beings and not as sex objects. They need to feel confident and less vulnerable. We as a society must speak up every time we see any form of abuse and nip it in the bud. We always react too late.
Q. When we are expecting society to validate any crime provoking acts toward women through laws etc, why can't film industry take responsibility of cooperating by 'not showing' obscene acts to help in shifting the social view on women? Isn't it hyprocitical to say that cinema is mirror of society and it has to show it all making it more prominent to entire society. I think recent ban on item numbers is a great move and taken very negatively by film industry. What are your views here? Asked by: Suneet Solanki
A. While it is true that cinema can influence the way we look at things, women, for instance, but to put all the blame on it would be naive. Finally the people in the industry come from the same society that disrespects women, objectifies them and watches those films that are in question. We can not tell a film maker or producer to do or not do something. We can only hope that their own conscience will make them more responsible.
Q. What has been the role of Bollywood as some of the movies go to any extent for TRPs Asked by: Manav
A. The only way you and I can change this is by not supporting such films and supporting those that have stories that need to be told. We are the ones to increase their TRPs. Also banning or restricting any kind of film will be of little help. Today in the day and age of internet, there is free access to a lot of things. Finally the way a person or a society matures, is when one becomes discerning. There will be muck, but let's hope space for good things will also be there and that the audiences will choose the latter. Censorship is not the answer.
Q. Do you believe that the passing of Women's Reservation Bill in the Parliament will change the patriarchal mindset of the large sections of society and the way women are treated? Asked by: Bhumish Khudkhudia
A. Again no one things will bring a revolution, but everything is a step towards it. WRB is an important step towards women's participation in decision making. We need more voices of women, who do hold up half the sky! Changing the patriarchal mindset will take time, but will not happen if women are kept away from public space.
Q. Tough laws without safeguards will harm many innocents. And both men and women can suffer if there is misuse because men and women are connected. A mother would not want her son if innocent to be implicated for instance and a father would want his daughter to be safe. Unfortunately the whole thing is treated as gender war. Asked by: Raj kumar
A. Yes, it should not be a gender war. It is a battle between a patriarchal feudal society and a progressive liberal one. Some will always misuse the law, but we have to see what is for the larger good.
Q. Both houses of Parliament have passed anti-rape bill. Your views on the bill esp marital rape issue. Asked by: laxman
A. At least we are talking much more about tackling the menace of rape, the gender abuse, laws that are needed to protect the victims etc. So it will take time to address marital rape, which is a very serious crime. Like domestic violence, which sadly took time before it was seen as a crime. These are not private matters, but societal issues. Hope in the next amendment we can address marital rape. Many women suffer this and are unable to ever share it and therefor suffer in silence.
Q. Hi Ms. Nandita Das, Had the pleasure to meet you & listen to you years ago (2006-07) at IIM Ahemdabad. Isn't our law & order machinary gravely under-equipped to handle and avoid such assaults on women? Laws are not going to be solution? Why not focus on other key aspects such as increasing awareness thru mass programs, hiring more personnel, using technology, etc? Asked by: Rama Krishna
A. Like I said before, let us never get into an either or situation where fight for what is a more important tool for change. All of us have our areas of influence, however big or small they may be. Let us find ways in which we all can be part of that change that we want to see in the world.
Q. How about crime rate against women in urban India only being reported while rural India is largely ignored by media and local politicians? Asked by: Manush
A. It is very disturbing how rural stories are vanishing from our collective consciousness. Media is also primarily urban centric, unless the story is really big or sensational. Rural pages in papers have also vanished. The decision makers are increasingly the urban elite, they are the consumers, the opinion leaders and therefore the market and the media is all for them. Where is the manorama story from manipur or the Khairlanji story from maharashtra? Do we know their update? Dalits and tribals are getting abused on a daily basis, but do we march on the streets for them?
Q. Why is it that India despite use of technology and rapid growth has not been able to solve basic issues of society? Asked by: Arvind
A. Because we are not looking at social indicators. The wellbeing of women and children is one of the most important social indicators and look at their situation. we are looking at GDPs, but not at ground realities. We have to see how our policies and projects are impacting the last man/woman.
Q. hi Nandita, do you think that this anti rape bill is going to help those victims of sexual harassment or eve teasing which happens at work place? Asked by: Gaurav Mishra
A. We have to create an environment of zero tolerance against abuse of women. You will be surprised how everything is interlinked and can have an impact on multiple things. Let us begin with our own selves and the people around us.
Q. Has Justice Verma committee had any impact on the ground situation or the crime rate will increase as people will forget new laws after some time? Asked by: Manav
A. We need grass root level workers, policymakers, law enforcers, makers....everybody. So the committee's recommendations are going to be very useful, and now the enforcers have to implement it. No step in the right direction is a waste. It is not the time to be cynical. We have to be doers and eternally hopeful!
Q. Hi Nandita das, how are you, how is your life going, now today one more rape case in Punjab state they raped the inside car 4 person it means no one is caring law and order or afraid everyday so many rape cases going on - why government not hanging the some people so other people can afraid I am I right. please answer me. Asked by: M. HAJI
A. I am against death penalty per se. More than 130 countries have banned it after looking at it closely. Enough research shows that it is not a deterrent. And instead of asking for such barbaric tokenism, we have to ask for quicker FIRs, fast tracks, no stigma and shame for the victim, public shaming of the perpetrator, changing of the mindset. Let us make this world less blood thirsty. Violence only begets violence. And life imprisonment is not worse than death at one shot! We need to focus on justice for maximum no. of victims and not retribution for one.
Q. Thank you for your response to some pertinent questions. I vividly remember a news network' broadcast in its European edition that covered the strong laws in India so eloquently - Among the many that they cited was the the Law prohibiting child labour. Having been witness to many grassroot situations, I think we should collectively focus on "crime avoidance" more than "addressing post-crime situations". In a country like ours, it is necessary because even a seemingly small percent of populace in real terms means a huge number of people. Its impact will be really profound. I would love to share a paper with you on the work we have done. Asked by: Raghu
A. Sure, thanks. I read somewhere that it only takes 7 percent of population to make a collective shift in the way we look at things. Let's do it...let's join the dots and speak up for things that are ruining this world.
Q. Hi Nandita, while I fully share your views on the need for stronger anti-rape laws, I too believe that we need to revamp our educational system with more focus on gender sensitization topics to our children entering high school. I'm sure you're aware of previous studies that have identified arts and crafts offered in schools as tools that have been shown to help children grow with increased sensitivity. Would you consider advocating for this as well? Thanks. Asked by: Dr. Rajesh S
A. I am no activist, but want to believe that I am a conscious citizen and to keep my own sanity and sensitivity, would want to speak about things that trouble me/us. I am sure many of you do that too. being a person from the public domain gives me more opportunities to interact with people and I try to use that to share my own views and concerns.
Q. Don't you think stronger laws wont change things that much as long as the process of upbringing doesn't change at homes & families? Asked by: Himayan Das
A. Again, it is not an either or situation. I am raising a small child. I need to ensure my son learns to respect all human beings irrespective of caste, creed, religion, gender, colour....if he sees the adults around him do that, he will automatically imbibe that. We adults have to reflect and introspect more and make a world that is worth emulating.
Q. Is it the Indian mindset and culture which is to blame for the harassment of women? In most western countries men don't give a second glance to women whatever they may be wearing In India it is quite the contrary. Asked by: kaushik bhowal
A. It is not so simplistic. All kinds exist in all countries. But in traditional patriarchal societies women have been pushed back for too long and therefore the struggle is greater for them. Why should only women be fighting their case. We need many sensitive men, like you, to stand up for us. I feel so privileged in so many ways, that I feel it is my moral responsibility to be the voice for the voiceless. Let us all try and do that. I am not a very fast typist, so sorry couldn't answer all questions. But good chatting with all of you. Martin Luther King said, " we will repent not for the deeds of the evil, but the silences of the good". So let us speak up against any form of injustice. Thank you. Nandita