India Threatens BBC Over Decision To Air Rape Documentary In U.K.
India says it will take action against the BBC for broadcasting a documentary in the U.K. about the fatal 2012 gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi. The government, which has banned the Indian media from broadcasting India's Daughter or even showing clips from it pending an investigation, also ordered YouTube to take down the film.
As we reported Wednesday, the government is concerned by remarks made in the film by one of the rapists, Mukesh Singh.
"A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy" is for rape, Singh says. And, he adds: "A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night. ... Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes."
Indian officials say the rapist's comments created "fear and tension" and risked public anger.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh ordered the film banned and called for an inquiry into how filmmakers gained access to the Mukesh Singh and the other rapists on death row. He also said the filmmakers violated part of the agreement by not showing officials all of the unedited interviews.
The film, made for the BBC and India's privately owned NDTV, was due to be broadcast March 8, international Women's Day. But amid the controversy, the BBC broadcast the film in the U.K. on Wednesday night – a move that angered the Indian home minister.
"We had asked to not release the documentary, but BBC still released it," he said today.
NDTV quoted sources as saying his ministry sent a copy of a court order prohibiting the telecast of the documentary to the BBC.
"The notice, said sources, alleges that the interview has been used for commercial purposes and depicts women poorly, and so violates conditions imposed when the interview was allowed," NDTV reported.
"Our next course of action will depend on the BBC response," a senior Home Ministry official told NDTV.
The film was also posted on YouTube – and the Indian government asked the Google-owned video-sharing site to take it down. YouTube complied, but Indian media note that several users have posted more versions of the film on the site – and it is also available on peer-to-peer networks.
The filmmakers have noted that they possessed all the required permissions before conducting the interviews. The parents of the late rape victim, who has never been officially named (though she is referred to in the Indian media as "Nirbhaya" or one without fear), have publicly backed the documentary. Her father called the movie "the bitter truth."
British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, who made India's Daughter, appealed Wednesday to India's prime minister "to deal with this unceremonious silencing of the film." She told the BBC today: "I went out there not to point a finger at India - the opposite, to put it on a pedestal, to say not in my life have I seen another country go out with that fortitude and courage the way the Indian nation did. Unfortunately what this ill-advised decision to ban the film is now going to do is have the whole world point fingers at India."
The rape and killing of the 23-year-old student aboard a bus in New Delhi, the Indian capital, in 2012 horrified the world and put a global spotlight on attitudes toward and violence against women in India.
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