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The darker side of ‘anti-woman’ India

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The darker side of ‘anti-woman’ India
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The highly controversial documentary “India’s Daughter” based on an interview with one of the convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case was telecast by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Wednesday despite a ban by the Indian government.

The film made by Leslee Udwin, a film-maker and a rape survivor herself, was broadcast on Wednesday night around 3.30 am Indian time ignoring the ban prompting the government to sent a legal notice to the channel. There have been huge debates across the country over the short film based on an interview with Mukesh Singh, one of the six men who brutally raped and tortured a 23-year old paramedical student on a moving bus in December 2012. The girl died 13 days later. The documentary was made by Leslee who spent two years in India interviewing the victim’s parents, doctors, higher police officials, advocates, the campaigners and activists against rape and collecting the details. The then Finance Minister P Chidambaram of the UPA government had permitted an interview with the rapist in Tihar jail. The BBC had earlier decided to telecast the short film worldwide on March 8, which is International Women’s Day. But it was broadcast in advance due to the “intense level of interest” sparked by the uproar. The documentary faced huge criticisms and protests inside and outside Parliament with the BJP, Congress and the CPI(M) objecting towards its release. Prime Minister Modi had promised an in-depth inquiry and a ban on the movie earlier.

The Nirbhaya gang-rape case had sent shock waves across the world leading to massive protests and demonstrations all over India pressurizing the government to take stringent action in the matter and introducing more rigorous and harsher laws for rape. In the interview, Singh has displayed an appalling lack of regret or remorse, making derogatory statements against women. He blamed women for the rape and described the torture that led to the death of the girl as an “accident”. Singh said that “when being raped, she shouldn't fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape” and blamed the women for their indecent outfits and the late night outs. Sunitha Krishnan, a campaigner for rape described ‘India’s Daughter’ as a “mirror for introspection” saying that “exposing the criminal mindsets” was not to “glorify the rapist but to condemn such mindsets”. She also said that the film should be telecast everywhere for the people to know what was in the documentary. “It’s one of the best documentaries I have seen” said renowned novelist Chetan Bhagat. The parents of the gang-rape victim have expressed support for the documentary saying that the criminal mindset of rapists should be exposed and analysed. P K Shrimathi Teacher of the CPI-M expressed her concern and demanded a ban on the documentary which she called “very shocking and shameful" for the entire society hurling accusations against Chidambaram and the UPA government for allowing an interview with the rapist.

Despite the stringent laws, such heinous crimes are on a rise in the country with the people responsible for taking actions themselves involved in diluting the laws, hindering the legal procedures and challenging the judiciary. In India where a woman is raped every 20 minutes, such crimes are likely to continue happening particularly when the majority of the people elected to the Parliament and the Assembly are either accused or convicted in rape cases. Instances like banning ‘India’s Daughter’ and similar issues are most often politicized for petty motives and that is to be questioned. Given the digital age, the efforts to curtail or tarnish the media who brings to light the atrocities against women would only be a futile exercise. The documentary provides a revealing insight into the shocking incident and throws light on to the extra-conservative minds of Indian men. Whether the criminals inside and outside the Parliament would be punished is yet to be seen.

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