India’s High Court Refuses to Confront Controversial Rape Documentary
Leslee Udwin’s documentary “India’s Daughter” shines a light on the brutal reality for the women of India. The film centers around the gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year old medical student in India. The highly publicized atrocity sparked massive protests around the world, highlighting the widespread sexual assault India’s women face on a daily basis. The film was set to be broadcast across seven countries in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Last week, India’s government stepped in, prohibiting the distribution of the film. NDTV, the Indian station on which the film as to be shown, blocked out their broadcast during the film’s time slot in protest. The government cites public law and order as justification for it’s censorship. The film features a controversial interview, which the government feared would spark an outcry similar to that of the initial incident.
The controversy surrounding the documentary centers around an interview with one of the convicted rapists, Mukesh Singh. During the interview, Singh spouts some of the most misogynistic rhetoric ever captured on film. He blames the now-deceased rape victim for the actions of him and his friends who savagely raped and beat the young woman with iron rods.
“A decent girl won’t roam around at 9 o’clock at night. A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy…Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes… When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape.”
All four men involved in the incident were sentenced to death last year. However, Mukesh Singh’s sentence is currently on appeal to India’s supreme court; a factor that the high court (the equivalent of the U.S.’s appellate court) weighed heavily in assessing the ban late last week. The court formally kicked the can to India’s supreme court, claiming that the broadcast of the film may emotionally sway justices during Singh’s appeal.
All the while the film has been widely available via the Internet. In fact, the ban might as well be a figurehead for the views of the Indian electorate, as it is estimated that the film has been widely seen throughout India, and is being openly discussed in classrooms across the country.
Yesterday, Udwin spoke out against her detractors, urging those that support the ban to “engage in an issue bigger than yourself.” Despite her frustration, Udwin remained steadfast in her respect of the law, claiming “I am respectful of laws, in any country, and because there is a footprint of YouTube or torrents in India, it is my duty to bring that film off those channels and that is what I do… I have integrity, despite the witch hunt – this Salem-like witch hunt against me by those who are more interested in hiding their shame than saving their women.”