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India Bans Controversial Delhi Rape Documentary

The film, India’s Daughter, has ignited local tensions, release date delayed by the city’s police office indefinitely.

Photo: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

Three years after 23-year-old Indian med student Jyoti Singh was fatally gang raped on a New Delhi bus, sparking international outrage and a wave of sexual assault reforms in the country, the government has banned a documentary on the woman’s plight. The film, India’s Daughter, which captures one of the rapists blaming his victim, has ignited controversy and the release had been delayed by the city’s police office because of its “objectionable content.” As Agence France-Presse reported, a court order Tuesday prevented Indian television from airing the film, the rationale shaky at best. “We have only seen the promotional parts of the film,” said police spokesman Rajan Bhagat. “Based on that we took the matter to court because we felt that it will cause likely apprehension of public disorder.” Others are saying that it may give further public voice to the assailants. Directed by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, the doc was supposed to be shown in several theaters across the country this Sunday, as well as Britain, Denmark, Sweden and several other countries, in honor of International Women’s Day.


An incendiary topic in India, the issue was further inflamed when it was revealed that Mukesh Singh, one of the five men convicted for the 2012 incident, had told Urdwin on camera that the woman “could have avoided being murdered by not fighting back.” Singh caused heightened public outrage when it was leaked that he’d stated “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy. Boys and girls are not equal. Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes.” Since officials at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail, where Udwin shot much of the film, are refusing release, it may be stuck in limbo. As spokesman Mukesh Prasad told to the Associated Press “We want to see the documentary,” and would be uncooperative until demands were met. India’s home minister Rajnath Singh stated on record he was “deeply hurt” when he heard about the documentary, and addressed the upper house of the Indian Parliament on Wednesday. Singh argued that Udwin violated the conditions that the film be used only for “social purposes”, and not mass broadcast.

British filmmaker Leslee Udwin

Udwin insists the film was created in compliance with all necessary clearances from authorities, and had submitted both unedited and edited versions to authorities. As a heartbroken Udwin rightfully proclaimed to AFP: “The more they try to stop the film, the more they are going to pique people’s interest. Now, everyone is going to want to see it.”

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