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Open letter to Meryl Streep and Frieda Pinto on #Indiasdaughter #Vaw

March8th, 2015

Dear Meryl Streep and Frieda Pinto

Happy International Womens Day !!


I am writing to you to ask you why are you supporting  the patriarchal “Daughters of India”  ?


Historically  has sought to enslave women in roles of motherhood, sisterhood, and daughterhood as ways of legitimising the restrictions put upon them.

If  a  Campaign to stop violence against women is meant to bring about change continues to work within the patriarchal framework it seeks to annihilate, it defeats its own purpose. Isnt it ?


The anti rape movement after the decemeber gang rape in 2012 was a large spontaneous upsurge,  which was very creatively  mobilised with students, activistsm feminists together .

It systematically challenged and rejected the patriarchal protectionism that only offers “daughters”“wives or sisters  protection in that capacity rather than as human beings who  assert themselves and resist attacks on their bodies and rights. The  movement evolved and raised the demand for ‘unconditional freedom for women’.


Some of the popular slogans during the protest following the December 16, 2012 rape were, “We want freedom from fathers and brothers”. The protesters said, “Don’t call us ‘daughters’ and offer us ‘safety’ in exchange for freedom.” The title of the documentary does not reflect this quest for autonomy.  India’s Daughter actually locates the ugly rape culture mindset in the rapists and their defence lawyers, it does not show how the same mindset is shared by those who are within the legal and judicial system . The anti rape movement also  rejected voices that were ready to imprison and control women and girls under the garb of ‘safety’, instead of ensuring their freedom as equal participants in society and their right to a life free of perpetual threats of sexual assault, both inside and outside their homes.


The students came out with posters saying, ‘don’t teach us how to dress – teach men not to rape’ and others saying, ‘your gaze is the problem so why should I cover myself up’. This anger had clearly stopped being about this one rape case and punishment.Now this was  not being directed at the one incident, it was actually raising larger questions about why a woman is put in the dock every time there is a case of sexual violence and why is there a discussion on what she could have done to avoid it. The discourse was out of this comfort zone of patriarchy. So it was important to realise that it was not enough to oppose rape but to oppose it in ways that challenge rather than reassure patriarchy.

Sexual assault occurs with frightening regularity in the world and in India . Most of the global violence against women happens within relationships: worldwide, almost one third (30%) of all women who have been in a relationship have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their husband or partner.  Morethan 70 % of indian women  are subject of domestic violence, and a crime is committed against women in the country every three minutes. According to the India National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), for example, incest rape cases have increased by 36.7 per cent from 392 cases in 2012 to 536 cases in 2013. Of these, 20.1 per cent were registered in Maharashtra (108 of 536 cases), wherein 117 cases of rape by blood relatives were reported. 97.7 per cent of all sexual violence in India, as per the DHS survey used in the UN Women database, is perpetrated by husbands.  The rapes by strangers  forms a very small proportion of reported rapes.  So’ Indias daughter cannot be a representative picture for a global campaign, anyways.

The anti rape movement  argued that justice be demanded for all, and fought to get the definition of rape broadened, in our slogans we challenged patriarchy, we demanded that we wanted azaadi  (freedom) not merely from rapists who are strangers, but from the dictates of the Khaps ( Kangaroo Courts)  and also our fathers, and brothers, and husbands, who seek to control our bodies and agency.The film has no  engagement with rape as a structural problem.


I  would like to  give you glimpse of some rape cases in India which go beyond the mindset of the Rapist  , as the documentary  India’s Daughter”  has attempted.  A glimpse  when rape is used as a mean of domination by upper caste, by the army or the police, and  its actually not even punished. Adivasi and dalit women and those working in the unorganised sector, women with disabilities, hijras, kothis, trans people and sex workers are especially targeted with impunity .The Indian army and the police are using rape as a weapon against people in places like Chattishgarh , Kashmir  and  Manipur. It is legitimately being used, as there are laws that protect them when they do it.


  1. Manorama Rape Case


  1. Neelofer and Asiya – Kashmir – Shopian Rape case –


  1.  Kashmir – Kunan Poshpora



  1. The Case of Soni Sori= Amnesty International declared her prioress o conscience



Statement of Protest and demand of Withdrawal of Gallantry Award





The Rapist Cop S R P Kalluri , INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICERAIPUR,CHHATTISGARH  , another rapist cop, whose reputation surpases that of S P Ankit Garg has been decorated with a gallantry award  for Jan 26, 2013, the 64th Republic day of India

Gallantry award to the Rapist Cop

What “India’s Daughter” has done is that it has reduced  it to one incident, however horrific it was, one set of parents, or even one city – the capital of India, New Delhi. There are women in Manipur, in Kashmir, in Chhattisgarh who face the violence of the state. There are Dalit women across India who face the violence of the upper castes.

 Drawing your attention to Some uncomfortable issues coming up   about the film 

The Filmmaker has claimed that the parents of the Rape victim were fully in support of the film,but the  parents have actually gone to court against her.

Rape Victims parents are going to court against the Film Maker

, “”He [Mukesh] has said this in the court also in the past, but making a documentary while he is in the jail — this sort of permission should not be granted,” Asha Devi, the victim’s mother, told CBC News. “So who made the documentary and why, I can’t say about that. But this should not be allowed while he is lodged in the jail.”

The news that Mukesh singh, rape convict was paid Rs 40,000

The news  that The original indian collaborator Anjali Bhushan is missing from credits

The Indian Co Producer Anjali Bhushan SPEAKS OUT

As  a feminist concerned with gendeR I also do not want to see Indian men demonised , at a time when racism is rampant  and the name of the campaign comes from a film which has succeeded in doing so,  If you  think the

 ‘demonisation’ of Indian males  is irrelevant , please read  German Professor apologises for rape problem email to indian student


We Indian women do not want to be seen as India’s daughters , nor do we want to be seen as mothers, wives, aunts, nieces or grandmothers. 

We are not reproducing Machines 

We want equality as  human beings . 

We demand respect as human beings. 

The truth of the “Daughters of India” campaign is that it is undoing, what the anti rape movement has been trying to do since dec 2012 .  If we moved a step forward in our campaign on gender violence, Daughters of india  is going to drag it 5 steps back. That’s what the film India’s Daughter will do for awareness on gender violence.



in Solidarity

Feminist , part of the Anti Rape movement in India

Kamayani  Bali Mahabal

Refuse to be part of  Indias Daughter campaign



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Comments (8)

  1. surabhi

    I am a great admirer of ur blogspot. But I feel 90 percent of women are quite happy to have protective parents n brothers. They love being told what to do. Infact they blame women who cannot succeed as good wives.. who dont cook.. or wash at home. If a woman is atheist she is shunned around by everyone. Rape victims are not supported by women or girls at large. Considering this I found the Documentary a brave attempt to shame them all. Soni Shri was given AAP party ticket by males. We still live in India not Paris.. so please bring down ur campaign to India’s level..

    • kamayani

      Dear surabhi, thanks for your comment, and thats precisely the reason we need to move out of our comfort zones, we are conditioned patriarch; values, that why as us ay woen don’t want to but they are denied also of tehri rights ? so if they rebel, what support system they have ? do we have enough shelters for absued women in India no, the stigma withs sexual assault, lets take marital rape approx 80% marrid women are raped every day, the rapoe SURVIVORS, are not supported by SOCIETY AT LARGE and family, not only women. oh so u say we are not in Paris in India ? well even in Prais there are cases of DV , what is the INDIA LEVEL i ask you ? that we keep SILENT, WE HAVE SPEAK NOW… NO MORE SILECNE ABOUT VIOLENCE. BTW i have not enuf cases of absue its elf on FB, twitter and women are speaking PROVIDED THEY AHVE SUPPORT WE NEED TO CRAETE A SUPPORT SYSTEM NOW

  2. Sherna Gandhy

    I really don’t see what relevance your piece has for the film. The film does not aim to be a treatise on rape in India nor is it about violence against women in general. It is about one rape case that stood out and got a huge amount of attention and created a huge amount of awareness and brought in new legislation. Why blame the filmmaker for focusing on this?
    There is nothing ‘patriarchal’ or disrespecting of women in the film. Can a filmmaker not quote people who have obnoxious views in order to show just how obnoxious those viewers are? Do you seriously think Udwin is glorifying the rapist by quoting him and his despicable lawyers?

    I think much of the outrage against the film stems from the fact that a foreigner made it. I don’t think there would be this opposition if it had been an Indian filmmaker, as it perhaps should have been. We really need to be more mature in our responses.

    • kamayani

      Dear Shema my pice is base don the global campaign which a initiate din New York as india daughter… the letter clearly states that name of campaign it self is problematic and so is the case of basing ti solely on india’s daughter. i am not talking of ban, fact foreigner and it all i am talking about the action planned as a global campaign which is problematic

  3. Dear Kamayani,
    I agree with every word u have written in the article. and also with the fact that we should stand up and protest. And I also agree the name is tad too patriarchal. As if women have nothing in life except being daughters, mothers, or wives etc. I live in Chhattisgarh. here tribal women are fighting a war to the finish to preserve their dignity. They have crossed the road with their lives hanging in balance. They have been described as biggest internal security threat by our Prime Minister. They are arrested, raped, tortured everyday. Soni Sori is just one of the cases. No, I did not say that we should stop protesting. I said, if this documentary shames our family, if it rocks our comfort zone,despite the inconsistencies.. we should stand by it. SImply because, it exposed the horrendous mindset of the two defense lawyers. apart from it, the interview of Nirbhaya’s friend was quite disquieting. No one in India made such a documentary. if someone did, and it resulted in exposing the defence lawyers and the likes of him, I would stand by such an effort.

    Thats all.

    PS: I am a voracious reader of all your blogposts, and greatly admire you.

    • kamayani

      Dear Surabhi , Understanding toy totally and the fact soni sori is just one case there many tribal women languishing in jails and being tortured and raped every day. My letter is not about the film, its about the the way the FILM has been placed to kick start a global campaig which is named indiadaughers, these are precisely the partite; values we are fighting. and btw the film have seen it, for me its a mediocre potboiler and fact so many issue are doing forward when the parents of victim are going to court , and the fact an indian film maker was involved initially is suddenly missing, my point is that. BTW if i did not know india afters being this film, my image of india would eb all poor men living in slums rape,? is there any context of caste and class in the film ? anyways the letter is not about film, but the global campaign it has kick started 🙂 and thank you, for being reader f my blog, after getting many love letters :-)… your comment is a breath of fresh air

      • I understand every word u say.. Ur right.. the campaign needs to be fought on multi-dimensions and the fissures within the inherent war against misogyny are far more complicated and should not be simplified. we are on the same side.. keep up the good work..

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