Trigger warning: This post deals with sexual assault and murder and may be triggering for victims.
A groundbreaking new film called India’s Daughter, which tells the story of the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old Delhi student, has been banned by the Indian government.
Delhi police are investigating filmmaker Leslee Udwin, who has left the country, and India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has told all national news channels not to air the controversial documentary on the grounds that parts of it “appear to encourage and incite violence against women.”
But The Guardian reports that one Delhi MP is ” worried it could affect tourism,” while most politicians seem to believe the film is bad for India’s image.
Disturbing fact: In most countries, men have a legal “right to rape”.
Despite this controversy, India’s Daughter was aired on BBC Four in the UK on Wednesday evening, having been brought forward due to at “intense level of interest”.
The documentary was initially meant to be aired on Sunday to coincide with International Women’s Day.
It features an interview with one of the men convicted for the brutal rape of Jyoti Singh, which took place in Munrika, a neighbourhood of South Delhi in December 2012.
Medical student and physiotherapy intern Jyoti Singh was headed home at night after the movies with a male friend on 16 December 2012 when six males — a 17-year-old boy and five adults — offered the pair a lift on a mini-bus.
The young woman was brutally raped by the group and savagely beaten with iron rods. She died thirteen days later in emergency care
The crime was so horrific, it sparked widespread national and international protests and gained media attention across the world.
But in the film, bus driver Mukesh Singh — who has been sentenced to death for the crime along with four others — appears to blame his victim, saying “a girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy” and that the 23-year-old woman needed to be taught a lesson.
For more on this… Rapist: “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.”
Shockingly, he also tells the documentary crew that women “should just be silent and allow the rape.”
“A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night,” Mr Singh says. “Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.”
The film has sparked an intense debate in India and home minister Rajnath Singh has threatened non-specific legal action against the BBC saying that “all options are open.”
The BBC released a statement defending their decision to show the “incredibly powerful documentary.”
“This harrowing documentary, made with the full support and co-operation of the victim’s parents, provides a revealing insight into a horrific crime that sent shock waves around the world and led to protests across India demanding changes in attitudes towards women,” the statement says.
“The film handles the issue responsibly and we are confident the programme fully complies with our editorial guidelines.”
The Director of BBC Television, Danny Cohen, also sent an official response to Mr Singh defending the film as having “a strong public interest in raising awareness of a global problem”.
“We think the film is an important account of an event that galvanized Indian opinion to ensure such tragedies are not repeated.”
Following its airing in the UK, the hashtag #IndiasDaughter trended nationally, but Twitter users having been weighing in on the film, the case and the Indian government’s actions from around the globe.
— Riteish Deshmukh (@Riteishd) March 5, 2015
Shocking & deeply disturbing but we must all watch it #IndiasDaughter
— Babita Sharma (@BabitaBBC) March 6, 2015
— varahi (@___varahiiii) March 5, 2015
I watched #IndiasDaughter today. The documentary has been banned now. Instead of banning documentaries, let’s ban rape and injustice.
— Ram Kamal Mukherjee (@Ramkamal) March 5, 2015
Have very mixed feelings about a criminal being given the “oxygen of publicity” but fail to see what banning “India’s Daughter” will achieve — Ashok Malik (@MalikAshok) March 4, 2015
— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) March 5, 2015
Are you interested in watching the film? What do you think of the ban?
If you or anyone you know has been the victim of a sexual assault. Help is available. Call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic, Family Violence Counselling Service 24/7 on 1800 737 732. Bravehearts are another organisation that help the victims of child sex abuse. You can find more information about them here.