India committed “international suicide” by banning a documentary about the gang rape and murder of a woman named Jyoti Singh in Delhi, the director of the film said after a Friday (6th March) night screening in London.
India last week prohibited the release of the film “India’s Daughter” and also asked video-sharing website YouTube to remove all links to the documentary. Police said the ban was imposed as comments in the film by one of those convicted of the crime created an atmosphere of “fear and tension” and risked fuelling public anger.
Director of “India’s Daughter” Leslee Udwin said during a panel discussion:
My whole purpose was to give a gift of gratitude to India, to actually praise India, to single India out as a country that was exemplary in its response to this rape, as a country where one could actually see change beginning. The supreme irony is that they are now accusing me of having wanted to point fingers at India, defame India, and it is they who have committed international suicide by banning this film.
The British filmmaker said she was inspired to make the film after watching thousands of people take to the streets across India to protest the December 2012 rape and murder of a young physiotherapy student on a bus.
Jyoti Singh boarded a bus on the night of 16th December with a male companion after watching “Life of Pi”. She and her male companion were attacked by a gang of men for hours as the bus cruised through the streets of the Indian capital last month. It was said that the bus even passed through police checkpoints during the assault.
She was battered and raped by the men – they even used an iron bar to assault her, inserting it into her body, and causing severe organ damage.
After which, both victims were eventually thrown from the moving bus, dumped naked on the side of the road, and left to die.
India toughened its anti-rape laws in response to the outcry following the fatal attack but a rape is still reported on average every 21 minutes in India, and acid attacks, domestic violence and molestation are common.
“India’s daughter” features an interview with Mukesh Singh, one of four men sentenced to death for the rape, torture and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus.
In the film Singh blames the victim for the crime and resisting rape. Singh’s comments grabbed headlines in Indian newspapers and sparked outrage on social media. Some people have questioned whether the convicts should have been given a forum to express their views.
Watch it here:
Udwin said that banning the film brought India into disrepute by obstructing free speech, one of the essential elements of democracy.
The filmmaker said that if she was given a chance she would persuade India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow the screening.