Idiotic – but expected – Indian government ban on BBC rape film

The banning of a BBC film by the BJP and the Court in Delhi, because it reported on an interview with one of the Delhi rapists, is – at best – idiotic. Leslee Udwin had received all necessary permissions to interview the rapist in jail – from the government and from the jail authorities. The film is banned in India but was broadcast in the UK last night.

Of course the real reason for the knee-jerk banning (with little or no exercise of mind either by the government or the Court) is that what the rapist/murderer said is no different from what the male members of the BJP think. He showed absolutely no remorse and contended that if his victim had not struggled and had accepted being raped she would not have been killed. The BJP – and especially their spiritual leaders – all firmly believe that in every instance of rape it is the behaviour of the woman which has invited the rape. And it is not just the BJP of course. It is the mind-set which still prevails in most of rural India (and especially it seems in northern India where the male-female ratio is heavily skewed towards males). It is exacerbated when droves of macho young men migrate to the urban areas and continue to treat women as prey – just as they do with women of “lower caste” in their villages. And the so-called god-men with their fossilised minds don’t help.


Mukesh Singh is a man without remorse, retelling in staccato, precise detail how he and his friends raped and grievously wounded the 23-year-old physiotherapy intern on a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012, and why they were not in the wrong. She was.

His lawyers are equally blasé, men who have little compunction in echoing the view that a girl who goes out at night has only herself to blame — or words to that effect — with one going on to say that he would burn his daughter alive in public were she to have premarital sex. 

The death row convict is the unrepentant, boastful face, the defence lawyers the brazen reflection of a deeply misogynistic society that views as brutal a crime as rape as a consequence of something wrong that a woman has done. And the twin mirrors have found currency in the documentary India’s Daughter by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin that will be telecast by BBC on International Women’s Day on March 8; the chilling testimonies being played out on television prime time, the likes of Mukesh Singh and lawyers ML Sharma and AP Singh, who are not forwarding legal points in a client’s defence but just articulating their views, entering our homes as channels replay the interviews.

…….. there is a degree of voyeurism in a film which has a rape convict expounding at length before a TV camera on his crime and saying that the girl should have just “submitted herself quietly to the rape”. There is also the uneasy question of whether a filmmaker would be given similar licence in Britain to get a rapist’s views out in the public domain. And that, too, when the appeals of three of the convicts against their death sentence are still pending.

There’s another point to ponder — how Udwin got permission to interview a death row convict in Tihar jail when rights activists are consistently denied access to prisoners while probing a case.

…. The various arms of the Indian establishment have reacted true to type — with home minister Rajnath Singh declaring that the government would take all steps to stop the telecast, Delhi Police registering an FIR and a court stepping in on Wednesday to restrain the broadcast of the film.

And that is really no answer.

The knee-jerk ban culture, as we have seen repeatedly, is short-term, ill-advised and serves little or no purpose. The freedom of expression, however uncomfortable, cannot be selective. India’s Daughter may have touched a raw nerve and putting the how and why in question, but seeking a blackout is not the way out.

The simple reality is that Udwin should never have been given permission to interview a rapist/murderer awaiting execution. The BJP as the party in government is responsible for such permission being given. Just bureaucratic and administrative incompetence I think rather than any sinister conspiracy. The subsequent banning both by the Delhi Court and the government however, is a typical reflex, reactive action of guilty consciences with no exercise of mind.


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One Response to “Idiotic – but expected – Indian government ban on BBC rape film”

  1. India’s daughter let down by government stupidity | The k2p blog Says:

    […] Delhi Court and the Indian government, was shown on Swedish TV tonight. I thought the authorities were being rather stupid in their knee-jerk reaction in imposing the ban. Now after seeing the documentary, it is apparent […]

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