BBC says 'India's Daughter' is not derogatory

Broadcaster says airing was advanced due to 'intense levels of interest'

BBC says 'India's Daughter' is not derogatory
Even as a legal notice was served to it for airing “India’s Daughter” in the UK, the BBC has said it did not feel that the documentary film could ever be construed as derogatory to women or an affront to their dignity.

“Indeed, it highlights the challenges women in India face today. The remarks of the perpetrator are set among a number of other views, including those of the parents, ex-or present members of the judiciary, witnesses and personal testimonies,” the UK-based public service broadcaster said in its response to the government.

The purpose of including the interview with the perpetrator was to gain an insight into the mind-set of a rapist with a view to understanding the wider problem of rape and not just in India, it added.

The BBC, however, assured the government that it did not have any plan to transmit the film in “any territory which lies under Indian legal jurisdiction”, hours after the broadcaster went ahead with the broadcast of the film on BBC Four, advancing the schedule and prompting the government of India to serve a legal notice to it.

“It should be noted that although the BBC is happy to take your views into consideration, we are not planning to transmit the film in any territory which lies under Indian legal jurisdiction,” the public service broadcaster said in a communication to government of India.

Meanwhile, British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, producer of the documentary film, left India for the UK. The BBC, which was to air the documentary along with NDTV in India on March 8, advanced its schedule and aired it in the UK on BBC Four on Wednesday.

“The film handles the issue responsibly and we are confident the programme fully complies with our editorial guidelines. The BBC will broadcast Storyville – India’s Daughter, in the UK on BBC Four. The documentary has the backing of a number of other public service broadcasters. However, the BBC is only responsible for transmission of the film in the UK,” it said, issuing a press statement.

It decided to air the film to enable viewers to see “this incredibly powerful” documentary at the earliest opportunity in view of the “intense level of interest” in it. “This harrowing documentary, made with the full support and cooperation of the victim’s parents, provides a revealing insight into a horrific crime that sent shockwaves around the world and led to protests across India, demanding changes in attitudes towards women,” it said.

The news posted on the BBC about government of India serving a legal notice highlighted a “bitter truth”, saying “although the film has not been shown in India, some activists were angry that he was interviewed at all. Others were supportive and said the film should be shown to help spark the debate on rape in Indian society.”

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