It all started on March 25, 2015 when I got a call from NDTV for a show they were planning to do on Marital Rape. The producer told me they would like to discuss the issue of false cases as well and hence asked for cases where people were falsely accused. I told the producer about case where a wife had filed a gang rape case on husband and his friend, later acquitted by court declaring the case as false. This was in Delhi. I also shared cases with the producer where husband’s male family members like his father and brothers were falsely accused of rape or molestation following a marital discord. This wasn’t because it was NDTV contacting me. It was because no one discusses this side of the story and hence are not interested in following these cases while I have plenty of them coming across every single day. So i share these stories with any media that ‘rarely’ gets interested in talking about misuse of laws. I participated in the show and no qualms in saying it was biased. I participated in the show because I wanted to present the side which is conveniently ignored.
I DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE SHOW FOR ANY PUBLICITY.
Yesterday, I saw a video doing rounds on the internet, where Barkha Dutt, sitting with Leslee Udwin (Director of India’s Daughter) gives a befitting reply to a Journalist when she says how unsafe India is for Women. While people are patting her back for this response, I tweeted if she was now doing a damage control after spreading the rape hysteria. It certainly did not go down well with her and she ended up tweeting this :
Well, in case you are reading this Barkha – my tweet was not only for you but for all media people who have spread the rape hysteria post December 16, 2012. To all those whose brilliant efforts have ensured that young boys of my country are now being denied internships because all Indian Men have been showcased as “rapists” the world over. I say you spread rape hysteria because the TV channels show India’s Daughter with great tenacity but do not talk about India’s Sons getting accused of false rape charges day in day out without any hearing. I say you spread rape hysteria because you report every rape case without going into the depth of the case and hold discussions but when the case falls flat in front of the court, is declared absolutely false and concocted, you refuse to bring it to the world (Thanks to print media, they at least report these cases.) I say you spread rape hysteria because you do not show news when men die because of false rape/dowry accusations but if a woman dies, entire Indian media huddles to report on it. I say you spread rape hysteria because when a demand of 5 crore is made in exchange for a false gang rape case right in the heart of Delhi, no one reports it or shows that video where demand is being made but whenever an accusation is made, it is splashed again and again on our screens.
I would have loved to reply to you on why I tweeted what I tweeted. But saying if I came on your show for publicity was sad. I wonder if you have spoken about causes you believe in your life to gain publicity. I wonder if people who come on your show are all expected to have certain view about “you” and not the “issue” being discussed. I do not have a problem with “you.” I have a problem with the fact that you completely ignore the other side. I have a problem with the fact that you take a person falsely accused of a crime for granted. That pain has no consideration for you unless it is perhaps a Gowda’s son who gets implicated in such a charge. By the way – you said one thing in the debate – A man should go for divorce if his wife is not having any conjugal relationship with him even after months of wedding. Let me tell you few things – 1. If a man does that, he gets implicated in a false dowry/violence case anyways 2. If panacea for every pain of a married man in a marriage should be divorce – why shouldn’t the same apply to women? Why bring Marital Rape? They can just go and file for Divorce no?
Anyways, responding to my tweet the way you responded was your choice. Reacting to it, the way I understand is mine.
Here’s a letter I have written to you and also Prannoy Roy. Thanks but no thanks for calling me on the show. I have my lessons 🙂 🙂
Dr. Prannoy Roy
Subject: I did not participate in your channels show “We The People” to get publicity
Hope you are doing well. I am writing to you with regards to my presence on one of the shows on your channel ‘We The People’ hosted by Barkha Dutt. The show was recorded on March 29, 2015 and topic of discussion was “Marital Rape.” I participated in the show in the capacity of a social activist and a filmmaker working on issue of misuse of women centric laws in India. Sir, I was ‘invited’ to be on the show by the producers of the show and did not beg anyone for an invitation. I thought that to be fair to every section of society, the channel is genuinely interested in looking at both sides of the story – the reason for my participation. Not only did I participate in the show but had frequent interaction with the producers, lending all my support in terms of research or providing contacts of people who are victims of false cases or anyone relevant to the issue. This is not the first time, I have extended all my help in research whenever I have got a call from producers of the channel for any show.
I DID NOT COME TO THE SHOW FOR PUBLICITY. NOR DID I KNOW THAT NDTV CALLS PEOPLE AS PANELISTS THINKING IT IS GIVING THEM ‘PUBLICITY.’
I think any social activist working on ground on a cause would take an offence to such a remark and I am no different. Yesterday in a tweet, Barkha wrote to me “Hey just wondering why you agreed to come on the show hosted by me given your views of me? Or is all publicity good 🙂 ” The tweet was a response to my tweet “So apparently Barkha Dutt is trending for shutting up an Intl Journalist on VAW in India. First spread rape hysteria den damage control!”
I am sure you are aware of the fact that an Indian Boy was refused internship by a German Professor citing “rape problem” in India and that she does not want to take any chances. I am not too sure if my tweet was at all in a bad taste given the recent events in the past where views of a person “convicted” of crime of rape was presented as that of average Indian Man and involvement of NDTV in India’s Daughter documentary episode. My tweet, yes was pointed to Barkha but was to every Indian media professional that has contributed to India attaining image of an “unsafe country for women,” without giving a hoot to the rising statistics of false rape cases, acknowledged by Indian courts. To the extent that a Judge commented “Delhi has attained title of rape capital of India because of false cases.”
I would have been happy to answer my views on ‘rape hysteria.’ I would have been happy to exchange notes with Barkha on why I tweeted what I tweeted. But, I did not expect this extremely derogatory tweet questioning if I participated in the show for publicity.
I would also like to ask you sir, do the panellists in your channels debates ‘need to have’ goodie good views of the anchor and if not, should not participate? Do you invite panellists on your debates thinking you are doing them a favour by giving them publicity? Do people participating in the shows on NDTV need to have views on the “issue being discussed” or the “anchor who is hosting the show?”
Anyways, I have been an admirer of NDTV and its work. As a student of Journalism, I have looked up to the journalists of this channel including Barkha Dutt. I am extremely disappointed today. And thus, I am sending back the cheque sent by your channel as an honorarium for my participation on the show. I thought my views contributed to the discussion. If the anchor or channel perceives it as a publicity stunt, I am afraid this honorarium does not make any sense to me and I refuse to accept it. If the channels deems fit, it can edit the online version of the show and upload it again because I certainly don’t want it to think it is giving me any ‘publicity.’ I shall be happy. Kindly acknowledge the receipt of this mail and the cheque.
I wish you and your channel great luck in all your endeavours. Congratulations for RedInk Lifetime Achievement Award.
Deepika Narayan Bhardwaj
CC: Renee Chandola, Consultant – Chief Programme Coordinator, Barkha Dutt
PS: Regardless of this conflict, I heartily invite you to meet hundreds of people victimized due to false cases at Jantar Mantar on May 5, 2015. You said false cases are an exception, maybe this gathering would help you understand these exceptions a bit more as a norm…..