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The Religious Sanction of India's Gang-rape Practices

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by spnadmin, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    The following review of a 2001 film gives us a clear idea as to the underpinings of India's mistreatment of women and the origin of the widely prevalent gang-rape of women that pervades Indian society today. It's a must-see film, excellently made though deeply troubling: it reveals how pre-historic Hindu religious practices continue to corrupt and contaminate Indian society today.


    The Religious Sanction of India's Gang-rape Practices
    by DENNIS GRUNES

    http://www.sikhchic.com/film_stage/the_religious_sanction_of_indias_gangrape_practices

    MAYA, a Film by Digvijay Singh, 2001

    A pre-teen stands in front of a locked door, from behind which blood-curdling screams emerge; he is pounding on the door, shouting, “Let me in!”

    A grown-up assures him that the one screaming is not at all being hurt, and the concerned boy is physically punished for the fuss he is making.

    Thus begins Maya, a superlative Hindi film in which this initial scene is either the boy’s nightmarish premonition or a real event to which the film will return in due course.

    What is happening behind the door?

    Officially it is forbidden, but in remote spots of rural India a certain practice still exists. When a girl has started to menstruate, there is a “prayer ceremony” for her, officiated by a pujari, a Hindu priest, at which she is ritually raped by a series of elders. The ceremony commemorates her passage into womanhood.

    This is what happens to 12-year-old Maya.

    From India and the U.S., Maya was written by the film’s director, 28-year-old Digvijay Singh and Emmanuel Pappas.

    Perhaps the U.S. participation has in this instance helped turn Hindi cinema away from the self-indulgent escapism and excesses of Bollywood and toward social realities. Regardless, this is a spare, exceptionally fine and compelling film that manages to avoid even a second of exploitation despite such risky material. One might wish that the film had related the ceremonial practice of rape to the broader issue of female vulnerability in India; but Digvijay Singh may have hoped that his film would inspire others on similar themes.

    The film’s first movement surveys the mischief of cousins Sanjay and Maya, who is living with Sanjay’s family while her mother deals with her latest pregnancy. Sanjay’s father is lenient, not strict, which makes all the more horrifying the corporal punishment that he inflicts on Sanjay on three occasions after the boy has innocently adopted the role of Maya’s protector -- at which he inevitably fails, which is part of the tragedy of Maya.

    Another part of the tragedy is that the grown women, including Sanjay’s exceptionally smart mother, who it is implied have themselves gone through the “prayer ceremony,” see nothing wrong with it.

    But against the notion that the tradition is harmless the film sets a symbolical infestation of lizards -- survivors of pre-history. Certain unquestioned traditions, no matter how monstrous, carry their own aura of necessity in the continuity of culture, religious or otherwise.

    Maya is prepared for the ceremony by being made exceptionally beautiful, as one might prepare a corpse for burial.

    Throughout, the child has no idea what is going to happen to her. Digvijay Singh takes us “behind the door,” but uses such compositional and framing techniques as to convey the horror of the event without exactly simulating it. We see Maya’s bare legs dangling fairly high above the floor -- this is all of Maya that we see -- and must imagine what we cannot see that is compatible with such a view. (Has the child been put into some kind of harness?)

    One by one, a pair of naked male legs confront Maya’s and, we imagine, each of the men perpetrates rape; Digvijay Singh shows three such events, although we understand from the greater number of elders who later emerge with Maya that Maya was raped more than thrice. We never see any genitalia -- just legs, and this visual procedure underscores the level of dissociation involved, including on the victim’s part, as well as the dehumanization.

    During the ceremony, Digvijay Singh uses the camera to survey the men’s neatly folded outfits on the floor -- a grisly touch of contrast, given the violations being perpetrated, the chaos of torture that Maya endures.

    After the ceremony, there are food and festivities (except that Maya herself is too sick to eat), everyone congratulates the priest, who assures Maya’s father that God blesses his daughter.

    Poignantly impotent, Sanjay assaults the doorway of the pujari’s home.
    None are so blind as those who will not see.

    Erstwhile critic Dita Bhargava has thus written: “[T]his film puts India and ancient hindu practices in an embarrassing, disgusting, and false light . . . The footnotes at the end of the movie reveal that this ritual is practiced on 5000-15,000 wom[e]n a year. I am not sure [of] the validity of this fact at all[,] but let[’]s put this claim in perspective. Out of a population of over a billion, 10,000 people is 0.001 percent! There are sick and twisted practices that occur to girls, boys, men, women and animals all over the world in strange obscure cults and organizations. To make a movie out of something that is not part of any hindu text or teaching and portray it as an ancient hindu ritual is very disappointing and insulting.”

    Let us set aside the inaccuracy of Bhargava’s statistical analysis, which fails to take into account that the number of victims expands annually; let us accept this fractured math.

    A mere 10,000 people?

    But the number comprises actual individuals -- each one a living, breathing, feeling girl.

    Justice Brandeis: “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
     
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  3. Hardip Singh

    Hardip Singh India
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    The worst truth of our Indian culture....
     
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  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    This was discussed before it was posted. The age-old suffering inflicted in the story was really huge. It was not easy for the admin/mod team to read. We gave it thought before bringing it to the readers. Now I hope it has a positive effect so that little girls do not start life feeling less than human and more likely to accept the bad things that life dishes out to them. May they prevail!
     
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  5. Ishna

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    Is this just an old traditional practice carried out in remote villages (not that it's justified even in those conditions) or is it rife?

    Pagan Europe had this sort of thing too. I want to cite a particular example of kings having sex with newlywed wives before the husband but my searches aren't bringing me the results I want at the moment.
     
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  6. Luckysingh

    Luckysingh Canada
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    This is not as isolated as one may think. The numbers are huge ,even though they may be somewhat remote from the world.

    Ten to twelve year old child brides are also very popular in these areas.
    I know it goes on to this day because just a few weeks back in my dentists waiting room I was reading an article from a reporter who was interviewing a 12 year old child.
    This child was conducting the interview with a translator whilst clutching two toy dolls in her hands. She was so child like, that just moments before they started the interview the girl was seen by the reporter trying to squeeze in some play time with the dolls for the few moments she could !
    It was a distressing and shocking read, that I just could not imagine because my daughter had just turned that age.
     
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  7. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Ishna ji You are I believe thinking of the "droit du seigneur" which continued in Europe until well into the 19th Century.

    As the article points out, even a fraction of girls in this situation is a large number because the rural populations are so huge. A small percentage of a large number is a large number. The damage from generation to generation I simply cannot contemplate. My brain just stops.

    The screenwriter is btw a Singh, and I was glad to see that. I hope it is symbolic of something deep within our psyches that competes with all the other dark forces that are found there.
     
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    #6 spnadmin, Dec 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  8. GSingh1984

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    Excuse me?

    -
    Also, wasn't it that a majority of girls are still married before 18? My grandfather(101) tellsmethat they used to marry girls and guys at the age of 12-14 and the girl would move in at 18.

    The life expectancy isn't that different, just isn't brought down artificially by infant mortality so I'd expect it to be the same.

    I think this is a cultural as much as religious practice edited

    If nothing else the edited martial culture would be too proud to have their daughters 'spoiled' before marriage.

    I find it the worst insult, to be called Indian, if you understand what India is (british chartered corporation), or what an Indian is (british created identity), you will understand that it is fake.

    Bharati is fine, if nothing else to disassociate from that, however India does not have one culture and ignoring the reality of where it takes places, is ignorant.

    For example are there devadasis in punjab or kerala? Therefore is it Punjabi or Kerala (malayalam?) culture.

    VJKVJF
     
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    #7 GSingh1984, May 4, 2013
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  9. Harry Haller

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    glad to see the article moved you as much as it moved me, it is precisely this sort of attitude that allows this behaviour to flourish, forget the horror of what is going on around us, and focus on the pointless.

    The comment regarding child marriage serves only as a justification for perverts everywhere.
     
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    #8 Harry Haller, May 5, 2013
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  10. Brother Onam

    Brother Onam United States
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    "Jus Primae Noctis".
     
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  11. aristotle

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    Child brides, Nagar wadhus(prostitutes in ancient India), permissible rape etc. are all cruel attacks on the persona and self-confidence of the womankind. And for the apologetics of ancient Indian culture, these practices existed and still exist in hinterland of the cow-belt of India and the Deccan.
    That they still haven't been completely wiped out is a matter of serious concern and a human rights violation.
     
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  12. Inderjeet Kaur

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    I do not know if this particular abomination is sanctioned by ancient "Hindu" texts, but I urge anyone who doubts that misogyny is an integral part of that religion to read Manusmriti, one of its basic texts. At this web site are a few quotes; these are not isolated examples, the antiwoman bias is a theme from beginning to end.

    Here is just one:

    If you are willing to delve into the whole text and discover for yourself that I am not exaggerating, please take a look at the whole text. BTW, you'll also learn a lot about caste. I am not implying that these laws are strictly enforced today. Whether they are or are not the attitude and bias remains.

    The full text of Manusmriti is available online at several locations. Here is just one. http://sanskritdocuments.org/all_pdf/manusmriti.pdf
     
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    #11 Inderjeet Kaur, Sep 1, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013

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