Ban on 'India's Daughter' triggers outrage, dissent

Ban on 'India's Daughter' triggers outrage, dissent

The ban on controversial documentary “India’s Daughter” on Thursday provoked strong outrage and raised questions on the restrictions imposed on its viewing on grounds that it was giving undue publicity to a rapist and that it would affect the image of the country.

In actions that could be termed hyperactive, the government moved against the documentary on the December 16 Delhi gang-rape victim by getting a court order restraining its telecast in India besides trying to stall its international release and forcing YouTube to remove video links.

Many feel that the government action and the outrage against the documentary directed by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin are not in the right spirit and  leads to avoiding the critical question of approach towards women. Though there was a ban, many people managed to watch the documentary online after the BBC outsmarted the Centre
by telecasting it on Wednesday night instead of the scheduled March 8 screening.

 “I have seen the documentary. It is powerful and moving. It does not sensationalise anything. This is the fourth time that the government has banned a documentary without viewing it,” Brinda Karat, CPM Politbureau member, said. “Everyone should watch the film. If a man can speak like that in jail, imagine what he would say if he was walking free. The documentary exposes what is happening,” the victim’s father said.

The campaign by Times Now against rival NDTV, which had the rights to telecast the documentary in India, said that the documentary is “voyeuristic” and against “all norms of journalism”, triggering a frenzy against it.

 Sonia Singh, managing editor of NDTV, said the news channel has “absolutely no link” to the content or making of the film. Singh, whose husband R P N Singh was minister of state for Home in the UPA-II regime, said neither NDTV nor she helped Udwin get permission for interviewing Mukesh, one of the convicts, in Tihar jail.

Udwin approached “NDTV only 4 weeks ago saying that the BBC had cleared her sharing it with NDTV because this is a global initiative in 7 countries. It is only after we carefully vetted all her legal clearances plus editorially discussed this that we agreed to be partners, last week,” she said.

The controversy also echoed in Parliament on Wednesday when a number of women parliamentarians demanded action on the documentary. However, nominated MPs Anu Agha and Javed Akthar sounded a different note when they expressed opinion against the ban.

“Suggesting death penalty or banning this movie is not the answer. Any time there is a rape, blame is put on the woman, that she was indecently dressed and she provoked the men. They are not just the views of the man in the prison, they are the views of many men in India. Let us be aware of it and let us not pretend that all is well,” Agha said.
“It is good that this documentary has been made so that crores of Indian men will know that they think like the rapist. If they feel that this is wrong, then they will have to change their thinking,” Akthar said.

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