A few weeks ago I wrote about how India had turned me into a feminist after seeing and learning about the treatment of women here. Many people have spoken to me about this post since in person, via Twitter and on Facebook. One comment that came up a few times was that my tone was one of hopelessness. This wasn’t the intention, but I certainly did feel like no matter how much the statistics and facts clearly show that women are in danger in India, so little seemed to be done about it. Then today happened.
Today a show called Satya Mev Jayate premiered on Indian television. It is in Hindi (and my Hindi is still not very good but getting better), but I watched it anyway. It is a mix between a talk show and documentary hosted by Aamir Khan, a rather famous and dashing Bollywood actor.
The topic for the premier episode: Female Foeticide.
A topic that is hidden under the carpet here and no one wants to talk about, after all killing unborn and newly born baby girls isn’t really a pleasant topic. I take my hat off to the network for not only screening this, but pushing it so heavily in the media that a full front page ad was in the paper today advertising the show (without mentioning the topic) and they showed it simultaneously in several channels to get maximum exposure. This was a huge media and marketing event.
The show started with Aamir interviewing a woman who described how she was forced by her husband to abort 6 baby girls over 8 years. Within 10 minutes there was not a dry eye in the house. Another woman talked about how her husband bit her violently on the face after she birthed a girl (so much so she is now permanently scarred). Another recalled how her mother in law kicked one of her infant daughters down the stairs in a basket in an attempt to murder her (thankfully she survived).
In telling their stories these women were unfettered. It was their voice that was heard, their pain that was shared. Their face that was seen in people’s living rooms. They were validated on national television and the audience heard it from one of their most trusted stars (a big deal in a country that idolises its Bollywood stars).
I don’t know much about Aamir Khan, I think I saw one film he did under duress (I am not a Bollywood fan), but today I am his biggest fan. For bringing the Indian girl out and letting mainstream India hear her.
I now feel more positive that just maybe women will be heard more often and the issues that they face given the serious thought and attention they require. Today at least everywhere in India’s media women are being listened to, I just hope she is not forgotten again tomorrow.
Unfortunately the show was not aired here with English subtitles, so a lot of the detail was missed by me but several others have written their thoughts, you can find some of them here: