The colour pink has become closely associated with women’s rights movements in many countries. In January of this year, diverse crowds coalesced in cities the world over to promote women’s rights sporting pink “pussyhats”. In Utter Pradesh, pink saris are worn by members of the Gulabi Gang, a grass-roots association fighting for women’s respect, autonomy and fair treatment, and against the proliferation of domestic violence and child abuse in their communities. “PINK” is also the name of a movie, an Indian courtroom drama released in 2016, that deals with themes of male privilege, sexual violence, corruption and the deeply entrenched social norms that support them. In a change to the usual format for AMAC’s monthly fellowship meeting, we decided to show the movie “PINK” to AMAC members and have a discussion afterwards.
Set in Delhi, PINK is about three young women who accept an invitation for drinks and dinner from three boys they meet at a rock concert. The boys make assumptions about the girls’ availability that leads one, Rajiv, to force himself on one of the girls, Minal, who then retaliates by smashing a bottle over his head in self-defence before escaping the scene with her friends. However, these initial events are not revealed until the closing credits. Instead, the film’s opening cuts between an injured Rajiv being rushed to hospital and the distraught girls fleeing back to their apartment. The girls’ situation deteriorates when Minal registers a complaint against Rajiv with the police. Rajiv is from a privileged family, which then launches a campaign of harassment and assault against the three girls before bribing police to ignore Minal’s complaint and bring charges of attempted murder and prostitution against the girls. Whilst Minal is languishing in her urine soaked police cell, a reclusive elderly neighbour who has witnessed some of the harassment of the girls arrives at their apartment. He turns out to be Seghal, a former advocate suffering from depression, willing to come out of retirement to offer his expertise at no cost. The following trial sequences, together with the film’s ambiguous opening scenes, test the audience’s own preconceptions, as the girls are subjected to an aggressive cross-examination that poses questions about the morality of their characters and motives.
Many of the injustices experienced by the girls in the film resonate with attitudes and behaviours we have witnessed in the course of our work. Negative attitudes towards independent women, the stereotyping of women from certain backgrounds, the assumption that women who drink alcohol or wear certain clothes or are out late at night are prostitutes, the belief that men are powerless in the face of such women and lack capability to restrain their own desires. The film provoked considerable discussion within our fellowship. A particular segment of the film saw the defence lawyer expose a corrupt police official who had written a backdated report. This incited much laughter and knowing smiles, with one AMAC member stating “this type of corruption is something that happens all the time here”. Another admired the defence lawyer, who he said “was always looking out for injustices, whether he is in court, at home or walking in the park, and doing something about it”. It was agreed that women go through many injustices and that they must stand up and take action, to be lawyers that make a difference in society. Another young man highlighted the need to improve lawyers’ professional skills to provide high quality representation for vulnerable people. One law student said that he “hurts deeply and cries inside when he sees injustices around him in society”. As the session closed, a request was made for members to pray for victims of gender based violence, some of whom are AMAC’s own clients.
For those of you who take an interest in matters of justice, and in particular those with a passion for fighting against gender based injustices, I enthusiastically recommend watching “PINK”. There are many standout moments in the film, but the one that resonated most with me was far more understated than the dramatic scenes unfolding in the court room. As the elderly lawyer Seghal is walking in the park with Minal, a passer by comments “hey, isn’t that the girl…”. Minal instinctively pulls up her hood to cover her face, hiding her shame. A moment later, Seghal notices and gently pulls her hood back, revealing her face again. The meaning behind his action is clear, you have nothing to be ashamed of. Although PINK is not a Christian movie, that short scene formed a profound metaphor for what God has done for his people. We feel ashamed, not only of our own sin but also the shame imposed upon us by the assumptions of others in society. It is natural to want to hide away from the world. Yet God lovingly pulls the hood away, exposing us to the light and says, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.