I was fortunate enough to be invited to a screening by WERK an association based in Nairobi keen on linking research to advocacy for the promotion of a gender equitable society with members Worldwide. The screening also included a Skype chat with the producer. I struggled with writing this post, the complexity and the layers of all the issues that are tackled in this documentary and the desire for answers to the pertinent questions that were raised in my mind.
For starters I applaud Jyoti’s parents for raising and supporting such a bright young girl, in a world filled with stories of gender discrimination and the inability of girls to follow their dreams and passions her potential and her drive spoke to many. It is very progressive of them to firstly celebrate her birth with the same pomp and pageantry as they would if they had a son, something that even a decade ago many families would face opposition for doing. Many women even in today’s society bear the emotional scars of being raised as less than equal to their male counterparts.
Jyoti’s parents did not restrict her as far as her ability to work and study to pursue her dreams, something that many young girls face.
It is very easy to typecast individuals from less affluent families and stereotypically reduce the dreams and aspirations and allow a vicious cycle to continue, yet here was Jyoti’s story of dreaming big and working hard to achieve that goal. Who knows what she could have achieved had her life not been so brutally ended and been here with us today?
The documentary was peppered with very low lows and one particular high: the outpouring of public anger onto the streets of Delhi to highlight not only her story but the issue at large. the outpouring felt like the issue would finally get the attention it deserved for true lasting solutions. It felt good to see the public support. Unfortunately these protests did not sustain the answers that were needed to address the issue as a whole.
Other individuals interviewed gave the some of the lows and left one dumbfounded. A clearly learned, educated individual such as the lawyer was quick to blame the victim. In the ensuing Skype discussion after it was clear that the lawyer truly believed in his stand yet when questioned if the shoe was on the other foot and the victim was his own his response was to go after the attackers.
Although this particular story was in India, it could have been anywhere. Sometimes it appears as if there is a distorted sense of the feminine and the female. They are our sisters, our daughters, our mothers. To suppress the feminine within each of us to me feels like you are suppressing half of you: as you are the product of your maternal and paternal ancestors, a yin and yang situation within each individual.
The question of how do we imprint this change came to the forefront: after all this cannot be a one-dimensional solution. As much as young impressionable minds need to be taught values, culture, right and wrong they also assimilate what they see in the world. An educationalist will tell you that the most promise lies with children and toddlers under the age of 5 as their brains are akin to sponges absorbing everything. It then stands to reason that we as the adults should imprint the change we wish to see and attempt to right the wrongs by breaking the cycle. there is a clear need to re-evaluate some of these issues: Yet no one has taught us how we should do that, after all if we are the ones that the olds look to for guidance yet we are continuing the same way how do we expect to change them. This is something I struggled with and still do not have definite answers to all the subsequent questions that arise from this one thought process.