Is the girl child’s murder the new porn for Indians?

While the nation’s eyes were on cricket this month, my senses were distracted by the miasmic odour of sexism steadfastly being thrown our way, like the myopic and chauvinistic remarks of Mansoor Ali Khan or Harbhajan Singh or Abdul Razzaq. Where even powerful, incredible, and successful women like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Anushka Sharma and Athiya Shetty were not spared. This is at the same time when super-gasp-ilicious shows like Kaala Paani and PI Meena, show women at the forefront of intellect, progress, and change. Are Indian women superheroes in reel life but supervillains in real life? Has our inherent toxic masculinity made us so disenfranchised? Has the seditious path towards casual sexism become the shortest path to the infamy of fame?

It sure looks like. And it’s not just men at the forefront of it all; some women are not far behind.

Case in point––Indrani Mukerjea. Released from jail after serving six years for the murder of her own daughter Sheena Bora. Popping up on my social media with a new book filled with lies and delusions. Salsa dancing, doing backward bends in yoga, being invited to literature festivals. Her Insta bio reading: “Like a Phoenix, she rises…” Followed by hundreds of thousands, including PR people, media personnel, publishers and bookstores!

Related Articles

Rewind 2023— Journey Through the Pages: A Curated List of the 10 Best Books Every Explorer Needs Before 2023 Ends

Rewind

How violence shown in Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal can affect mental health | Rewind 2023

And then, ironically and wildly claiming that Sheena, whose remains were found in 2015, is “alive and out there”. Alleging that Sheena was spotted at an airport, though no evidence has been found––obviously. Alleging that Sheena was spotted in Srinagar, though no evidence has been found––obviously. This is after the CBI has sought dismissal of Mukerjea’s necromancerous applications. This is after they’ve established clear evidence that Sheena is dead. This is after they’ve established clear evidence that Sheena was killed by Mukerjea. This is after the CBI has called Mukerjea’s claims ‘wild’, ‘not sustainable’ and ‘amounting to a mockery of justice’.

But Mukerjea, out on bail, is––of course––incorrigible. She’s now *ironically* claiming that she was close to Sheena! Really? A child she couldn’t even be asked to raise? And if this were even true, then why would her own ‘beloved’ daughter let her mother spend six years in jail? Why would her own beloved daughter hide from her? Does Mukerjea really assume the judiciary and janta to be foolish? Does she think she can get away with this complete mockery of justice?

Then again––when India’s media is busy platforming and weaponizing a clearly vicious and devious human being who is capable of killing her own child––why wouldn’t she behave like a martyr, like the victim? Being a media scythe, she’s feeding the media exactly what drives them into frenzied TRPs. She knows. She’s played this game before.

These events have occurred at the same time that the Talwar’s have a series showcasing their plight after their daughter was murdered. Something about women’s bodies being sites of violence seems to trigger our country’s voyeurism like nothing else. When was the last time a son was murdered by his own parents, and then a show or movie made about it, a book released? Does anything come to mind. No? Because it’s NEVER happened.

What have we become? Does a girl’s life hold such little value that we go out of our way to lend credibility to her murderer? Is this what India wants? It is unfathomable.

The fact is that women’s lives and dignity are low-hanging fruits for everyone and anyone.

I remember visiting the newly-launched Museum of Solutions (MuSo) in Mumbai a few days ago. An educative and imperative haven for our country’s children, a section of the museum highlighted the wait of water and the weight of water. The effort women in villages have to make to fill half a bucket of water using handpumps. Or the weight they have to carry on their heads with water-filled matkas, uncomplainingly. A woman’s burden is never over. But the fact is that like the Mithi River, which has been turned to build the airport, and is now sadly mistaken for a naala by most of Mumbai’s populace, we cannot afford to let our thoughts stagnate. We cannot afford to make our gender the veritable clowntown of misogyny. We do not deserve to be the enfant terrible of our own stories. We cannot appropriate other’s voyeurism via the libidinous sensationalism of our own murders.

The tone for 2023 was set when we began the year with Anjali Singh’s body mowed down and dragged for 12 kms until even her brain matter couldn’t be found, as her five drunken murderers celebrated. This incident came on the heels of Shraddha Walkar’s body being chopped into 35 pieces. It was followed by a young girl in Delhi being stabbed 21 times in full public view.

The incidents became a striking pictorial metaphor and analogical juxtaposition for how women’s bodies have become voyeuristic sites of violence in a country that still refuses to afford them basic safety or dignity.

Meghna Pant is a multiple award-winning and bestselling author, screenwriter, columnist and speaker, whose upcoming novel THE MAN WHO LOST INDIA (Simon & Schuster) will be published soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *