Feminism Fridays: Rape Documentary 'India's Daughter' Blocked by Indian Authorities

Feminism Fridays: Rape Documentary 'India's Daughter' Blocked by Indian Authorities | mysticsister.net

On Wednesday night, the BBC put India's Daughter, an hour-long Storyville documentary by Leslee Udwin, on its YouTube channel where thousands viewed it. On Thursday morning, the film was removed.

Indian authorities have blocked the broadcast of the film in India, and their efforts to block an international release of the film caused the BBC to air it on BBC Four Wednesday night, rather than on Sunday, March 8, as originally planned. The film was removed from YouTube after an advisory noticed from India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting:

Whereas a number of private TV channels have been showing certain excerpts of a programme titled 'India's Daughter,' proposed to be telecast by the BBC and the NDTV. The excerpts contain an interview with one of the convicted rapists of the Delhi gang rape victim of December, 2012. These excerpts were telecast on various channels throughout the day, with visuals of the convict, who was showing no remorse whatsoever for the heinous act. Further, the excerpts also contained his chauvinistic and derogatory views regarding women in general and the victim in particular. These programmes also provided a platform for the convict to use the media to further his own case, especially when his appeal against his conviction, is sub-judice. Whereas the telecast of these excerpts appear to encourage and incite violence against women, thus compromising women's public safety. They also provide encouragement to antisocial elements to indulge in violent acts compromising law and order.

The documentary tells the story of the brutal gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh in 2012. It tells the story of how 23-year-old Singh ignited a nation to finally speak out against how women are treated in India. It shows a turning point in Indian society with regard to women, and the Indian government doesn't like that.

Government officials said they banned the film because it showed footage of the inside of Tihar Jail, where media are not allowed. Udwin, though, said she received permission from the director-general of the jail and local government, including written and signed documents. So what is the real reason India has banned Udwin's film?

Udwin plead with Prime Minister Narendra Modi "to deal with this unceremonious silencing of the film" in India. 

"India should be embracing this film — not blocking it with a knee-jerk hysteria without even seeing it,'' Udwin said in a statement. "This was an opportunity for India to continue to show the world how much has changed since this heinous crime. Sadly ... the banning of the film will see India isolated in the eyes of the world. It’s a counterproductive move."

"Whoever is behind this — please see the film and then come to a conclusion."

I've seen the film — a bootlegged copy on YouTube — and my conclusion is that everyone should watch India's Daughter. This documentary is important not just for women and for the eradication of rape culture but also for India as a whole. India is a country straddling the line between old culture and customs and modern ideas. 

M.L. Sharma, one of the defense lawyers in the rape case, said in the film, "We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no space for a woman."

India's Daughter will hopefully be a step to making the first half of Sharma's statement true and the second half false. India does have a wonderful culture, and women are a part of that culture, half of that culture. They deserve to be heard and respected.

Watch India's Daughter. Stand up for Jyoti Singh and the tens of thousands of women raped every year in India who are told that the rape is their fault and are made to feel ashamed for what happened to them. Help put an end to rape culture.

This story was written in conjunction with Public Radio International's Across Women's Lives campaign. Read more on this issue here.