India’s Daughter, a hard-hitting BBC documentary about the brutal gang rape of a young woman in India that generated global headlines in 2012, is causing a storm of controversy in India. Based on the rape in December 2012 of 23-year-old student Jyoti Singh, who died from the horrific internal injuries she received from her attackers, the film reputedly offers an uncompromising portrait of attitudes among some sectors of Indian society toward women. One interview, in particular, conducted with one of the men convicted of the crime in which he unrepentantly blamed Singh for fighting back, has provoked outrage from all sides of the debate.
Initially set for international broadcast Sunday — including in India on NDTV — the film has instead been hit with an injunction by Indian authorities. “We can ban the film in India. But this is an international conspiracy to defame India. We will see how the film can be stopped abroad too,” said M Venkaiah Naidu, India’s minister of parliamentary affairs.
The film’s director Leslee Udwin has issued a statement appealing directly to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revoke the ban.
“I came here out of love for India, and because India had led the world by example in the unprecedented protests of its courageous men and women who came out on the streets to fight for my rights as a woman,” wrote Udwin. “India should be embracing this film — not blocking it with a knee-jerk hysteria without even seeing it. This was an opportunity for India to continue to show the world how much has changed since this heinous crime; sadly, the FIR and the banning of the film will see India isolated in the eyes of the world. It’s a counter-productive move. Whoever is behind this — please see the film and then come to a conclusion.”
Singh’s death led to mass protests in India over violence against women in the country.
Indian authorities are also reportedly attempting to block its broadcast outside of India as well and have sent a notice to execs at BBC4. However, a BBC spokesperson issued a statement confirming the film’s airing will go ahead as planned. “The film handles the issue responsibly and we are confident the program 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 other public service broadcasters, however the BBC is only responsible for transmission of the film in the UK.”
The BBC is also due to broadcast India’s Daughter in Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Canada.