Our Daughter in India

As the mother of  two girls and one of three sisters myself, the statistics about rape are a permanent reminder of just how unsafe the world is, to a person. The fact is that one in four women will be raped; this fact holds true in that within the number of girls and women named in the previous sentence, one indeed already has been raped and another the victim of childhood sexual molestation. We are middle-class, educated. . . . It doesn’t matter.


Fillmmaker Leslee Udwin pictured with the mother of two of the convicted rapists– the one who killed himself in prison after the arrest and the other whose interview forms the major narrative of the rape in the film. / Photo from the Guardian.

I watched Leslee Udwin’s documentary, Storyville: India’s Daughter with my husband last night. Originally set to premiere on the BBC and worldwide on International Women’s Day, March 8th, the BBC moved the airing upon hearing that the Indian government had banned the film from airing in India. It’s not surprising, given the level of corruption and openly-held misogynistic views of women held by some of the men speaking in the film. I was safely in my living room, viewing the dark side of human sexuality and power, a case of a desperate need for social and political change.

It’s a story of an amazing girl with amazing parents, “traditional people with modern values,” says Jyoti’s tutor, a young man whose words, in their very breath, held hope of the way forward for India — with compassion, respect, kindness. Such was his regard for his friend, Jyoti Singh.

Storyville was remarkable in its restraint. Udwin never showed Jhoti’s adult body. She was allowed to disappear into the river with the dignity of her family’s sacred and loving burial offering. As someone in the film said, it became about more than her. Jyoti’s story engendered an uprising of the voice of young people, their departure from the “old ways.”

And the film never became angry. In the end, it seemed to say that there was enough anger in the crime that is the basis of the film. And we all were exhausted from that alone.

Storyville isn’t a case of prejudiced editing or filmmaking, though I’m sure many will make this accusation in an attempt to save face — I am referring to the resistance of the Indian government to the issue of endemic sexual violence, as discussed in the film and as now witnessed in the government’s banning of the film. — But it’s not a face worth saving. I would say to those people to think, instead, of all the faces that are worth saving.

Storyville is available on iPlayer for a short while and will air again on BBC Four on International Women’s Day — Sunday March 8th at 10pm.



Girls will be . . .

Gender-stereotyping---is--008I’ve got two girls, and adults very often call one a “tomboy” and the other a “girly girl,” even though they both love princesses, playing dress up, climbing tall things, being active, building with blocks.

Even I am guilty of thinking of them in these sort of different types or labels which carry with them a set of preconceived and gendered ideas.

So why do we insist on labelling or typing children? And is it potentially damaging or limiting to their sense of self?


No news here. . .

According to the Guardian, in an article published today, “Childcare is now so expensive that families are increasingly better off if one parent gives up work to look after their offspring, a major new report has found.”

Trust me. I’ve known this for a fact for the last 4.5 years. We are part of the middle sector who earn “too much” to qualify for any real help (and still recovering from losing the formerly Universal child benefit, as it was our only means of creating savings). And we earn too little to be living better than hand to mouth.

Resourceful as ever, we just carry on as best we can, making the sacrifice and doing the best we can for our family. We also realise that lots of other people face an even tougher situation, so public moaning is not appropriate.


The cost of childcare and the effect on the squeezed middle class, helping parents who have been out of the work force because they’ve stayed at home to care for their children–not always by choice. I want to hear more about this during the upcoming election.