APRIL 12, 2017 00:52 IST
Docu traces struggles of five women
“She has her entire life ahead of her but chose to break the anonymity to tell her story,” says film-maker Leena Manimekalai about why she chose a Malayali student as one of the protagonists of her documentary on rape.
She was speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the shoot of her documentary Rape Nation: I Will Not Keep Quiet here on Tuesday.
“It is phenomenal that someone as young as 24 years is dispassionate about her past and is willing to reveal all, and wants to have a successful career and give back to the community by working with children who have been abused,” says Leena. The director who is on the last leg of the shoot says the documentary traces the struggles of five women – Soni Sori, Bilkis Bano, Bhanwari Devi, Manorama, and the 24-year-old student from Kerala. “She will be the youngest survivor [in the documentary]. The backgrounds are different but the struggles of the survivors are the same – overcoming the past, becoming fighters, and giving back to the community.”
Leena says she zeroed in on these women because “they are not defined by the tragedy.” The women also showed courage in shedding the cloak of anonymity. “It is not the survivor who has to be ashamed, but the perpetrator.”
People, she says, tend to fall into patriarchal traps of how their daughters won’t be able to show their face in society or won’t find an eligible groom if things get out.
The Malayali student, she says, wanted to publish her autobiography.
Rampant in families
Leena stresses the need to get out of denial mode, and accept that sexual abuse is rampant in families. “Rape within families is an elephant sitting in front of us and we can’t pretend it is not there by trumpeting about Indian society that gives importance to family,” rues Leena. De-stigmatising rape and shifting the discourse to men will make a difference, she says. “Change has to come from everywhere. It cannot be unidimensional.” The place to start with is homes. “If a girl and boy are treated equal and mothers start working towards homes without gender bias, there will be some change. This is also true for workplace, and the State. Everything has to come together.”