More people now speak up against sexual harassment`

PTI| Updated: Nov 27, 2013, 15:41 PM IST

New Delhi: A documentary film on the politics of rape kicked off a discussion on the increased awareness in society about rape and sexual harassment.

"More people including men are now speaking out against cases of sexual harassment. More and more women are coming out and reporting their trauma. Today it is men as much as women who are taking part in the protest," said Namita Bhandare, a journalist who made the documentary.

`Silent Screams: India`s Fight Against Rap` produced by Miditech Films was screened here last evening. Directed by Pria Somiah Alva and written by Manira Alva Pinto, the 45-minute film follows Namita who says "victims of rape rarely get justice in face of blatant political and police apathy."

The trigger for the documentary, says its producers, was the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old in Delhi on December 16, 2012 and the subsequent rising up of people across the country to express shock and outrage.

In the film, Bhandare talks about how she filed an online petition against rape that has been submitted to the Justice J S Verma Committe. It shows her meeting rape survivors, police officers and lawyers, to understand politics of rape and humiliation the victims face in their fight for justice.

Bhandare also interviews the family, the parents and brother, of the 23-year-old Delhi gang rape victim.

"Me and my team just could not film for quite some time after we began speaking with the family," Bhandare said.

The film also narrates the humiliation and plight faced by a working woman in Kolkata and a school girl in Haryana, who had each been gang raped.

A member of the audience expressed her concern that "the Nirbhya welfare fund remained unutilised." The 1,000-crore fund was set up for women`s welfare after public outrage against the December 2012 gang rape in Delhi.

Rajasthan Governor Margret Alva who was present at the screening pointed out that states can set up centres where women, victims of rape and other atrocities can get support and treatment including security and legal advice.

"We have set up a centre in Jaipur and other states can do that too...." said Alva.

The discussion also veered towards the recent incident where the Editor of Tehleka magazine has been accused of sexual assault. The film, shot less than a year ago, included an interview of the journalist who had worked on a cover story on rape for the magazine.

"The mindset that rapists come from uneducated, poor classes of society should change. These men come from highly educated and from privileged classes of society," shouted a man from the back of the audience.

Another person in the audience who said she hailed from Assam talked about women from North East part of the country.

"There is a certain perception that girls and women from the North East are of loose character and values... "

She also referred to an incident "where a woman in Assam was raped in an auto rickshaw around 5 days ago."

"I am a senior citizen and come from a very privileged background but still am scared when I have to travel in the auto-rickshaws in Gurgaon... Apart from telephone numbers of police and women`s helpline numbers it would be a good idea to display the numbers of women`s activists who can be reached immediately when help is needed," an elderly woman in the audience said.

Meanwhile, producers of the documentary have said that the film, which has Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union Perspective Award, will be dubbed in other Indian languages.

"We are in talks with Doordarshan and other media channels to showcase the film. The next step is to dub it in other languages as well," said director Pria Somiah Alva.