The world’s biggest democracy is exposed in a new film, as it stands by while literally millions of its women suffer unspeakable violence and oppression. India's Forgotten Women highlights the shocking plight of millions of women oppressed in modern-day India because of their social status The film shows astonishing, never-seen-before evidence of domestic violence, dowry crime, sex selective abortion, female infanticide, bonded labour, rape, temple prostitution, and human trafficking.
Made by UK human rights charity, Pipe Village Trust, and narrated by Anjali Gupatara, it is being premiered next week in London’s Leicester Square. India's Forgotten Women looks into the homes and communities of women called the Dalit – the lowest members of the lowest social caste – and charts the issues they face. As well as unbelievable poverty, they face a triple hardship of discrimination, not only because of their caste and poverty, but also simply because they are women. Narrator, Anjali, a former drama student, said that even though she was prepared for what they would see, she still couldn’t help being shocked by the scale of the oppression.
“It is comparable to South African apartheid,” she says. “Caste remains the iron fist of religious dogma,” she told The West End Extra newspaper.
Desperately poor Dalit women suffer an ‘extremely high’ number of sexual attacks, according to a report by human rights group Amnesty International, - often by landlords, upper caste villagers and police officers. But fewer than 5% of cases make it to court, it estimates. The figures the film flags up and the suffering caught on camera depicts a cruel form of apartheid. In Mumbai alone, more than 100,000 women have been forced into prostitution. It also uncovers the secrets of how at some Hindu temples, there are women who work as prostitutes for the priests and worshippers. Even though this is illegal, the women have been moved from working inside the temples and put into nearby communes so the men can continue to abuse them.
Similar shocking facts surface throughout, going from sex-selective abortion and infanticide, terrible domestic violence and murder. It is not pleasant viewing, but vitally important the story is told, say filmmakers’ the Pipe Village Trust, a UK film-making human rights charity highlighting the plight of people locked in modern day slavery and oppression around the world, through film and television. The trust works with other human rights charities by exposing oppression and to aims to bring all kinds of global slavery to an end.