Exploring ways of stopping the worldwide broadcast

Leslee Udwin is appealing to Narendra Modi not to ban her documentary about the gang rape and murder of Jyoti Singh – but of course Modi is not the guy to undo that kind of ban. Modi is a Hindu nationalist, a right-wing patriot; of course he’s not going to listen to some liberal woman from the UK who is sullying India’s good name.

Shortly before her statement was released, the parliamentary affairs minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, declared: “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.”

Yeah good luck with that.

In her appeal on Wednesday, Udwin said: “India should be embracing this film – not blocking it with a kneejerk 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 banning of the film will see India isolated in the eyes of the world. It’s a counterproductive move.”

For India as a whole, yes. For Modi’s party, maybe not so much.

India’s home minister, Rajnath Singh, told parliament that the government would ensure that “under no condition should this documentary be telecast … no one should show it on electronic media.”

The government would also block the dissemination of the film on any other platform, such as a web portal or on social media, he said.

Singh assured parliament that the Indian government was already exploring ways of stopping the worldwide broadcast. A notice had been sent to BBC4, which will show the film on Sunday in Britain, he said. “We will not allow anyone to leverage such unfortunate incidents [the 2012 Delhi rape] for commercial benefits,” he added.

A notice? What sort of notice? “We demand that you not show this documentary”? What does he mean they will not allow? They can’t not allow. They have no say in the matter.

It’s all just pandering to the constituents, no doubt, but it’s repellent all the same.

However, a BBC spokeswoman confirmed that India’s Daughter would be broadcast as planned. “This harrowing documentary, made with the full support and cooperation of the victim’s parents, provides a revealing insight into a horrific crime that sent shockwaves around the world and led to protests across India demanding changes in attitudes towards women,” she said.

“The film handles the issue responsibly and we are confident the programme fully complies with our editorial guidelines. The BBC will broadcast Storyville – India’s Daughter, in the UK on BBC4. 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 film is also due to be broadcast in Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Canada.

But not the US, it would appear. I suppose PBS is too squeamish, or maybe it spent the whole budget on Downton Fucking Abbey.

The controversy over India’s Daughter has demonstrated how deeply divided India is on how to deal with violence against women.

The film is facing both vociferous criticism and support inside and outside parliament. “We have to confront the issue that many men in India do not respect women,” said Anu Aga, an MP and one of the country’s few top female industrialists.

“What the man [Mukesh Singh] spoke reflects the views of many men in India. Why are we shying away from that? Let’s be aware of the view and not pretend all is well.”

It’s about ethics in private bus driving.

Sunita Krishnan, a campaigner against rape who, like Udwin, is a rape survivor, described India’s Daughter as “a mirror for introspection”.

“It’s a fact that rapist language has been heard from prominent leaders in the country also,” she said. “By exposing a criminal’s mindset you’re not glorifying a rapist. The film is a platform for collective condemnation of such mindsets.”

I’m guessing Modi and his friends don’t want a platform for collective condemnation of such mindsets. Just a hunch.


  1. says

    I am pretty sure I’ll have a terrible time and nightmares after watching it, but as a “fuck you” to Modi I’ll go out of my way to see the documentary if possible.

  2. olig says

    As an Indian woman, it is very disheartening to see where the priorities of our politicians lie. However, it isn’t one bit surprising. Rape culture is rampant here and often endorsed by politicians. “Boys will be boys” is what a former chief minister and leader of a party said. This level of condemnation is not visible then. This is no western conspiracy, it’s a big internal problem affecting women of India. Right now, everyone is in denial mode. Oh, it’s all too sad.

  3. Maureen Brian says

    BBC brought forward the showing to yesterday evening. For those who can access iPlayer it will be there for a further 5 days.

  4. Ben Finney says

    The full documentary is available at YouTube now. Please download it and save the file, and only then watch it; the video may not remain at YouTube for long.

    Given that India’s government is attempting to get YouTube to remove the video, I advise as many people as can to download the documentary from YouTube, either with a tool like youtube-dl or with a with a service like KeepVid.

    Share it around and ensure that, even if India manages to pressure YouTube to remove the video, their suppression is futile. Don’t allow censorship of a documentary that is as important to society as this.

  5. Ben Finney says

    The documentary is harrowing in parts.

    Especially harrowing are the parts which have one of the rapists giving his perspective. His utter contempt for women can be excused in part (but only in part) by context also given: he has had no opportunity to learn any different, this is the attitude huge swathes of India’s society – men and women – are raised to accept and defend.

    The worst part was the defense lawyers for these rapists. They have particularly florid ways of expressing what amount to an even worse attitude: women must always be under control of men, women are simultaneously precious flowers and dreadful sluts, women are always and unquestionably to blame if they get raped, rape is an unavoidable consequence of women going out unaccompanied by approved chaperones.

    No corresponding excuse is available for these verminous warped male lawyers: they have received a high-quality education and exposure to many points of view and still they spout this poisonous victim-blaming bile. For me, that was one of the hardest parts to watch.

    I’m shocked to be reminded that India has a death penalty: the sentence these rapists have received (and which is being appealed to the Indian Supreme Court) is death by hanging. The populace seem to enthusiastically support this; I am not in a position to blame them for that, but I think such a sentence is very wrong and it muddies the moral issue for me.

    Overall, though, I found it a very hopeful documentary. A large proportion of the time is spent covering progressive views, the voices of demonstrators for women’s rights, for reform of the penal code and court processes, for the abolition of this culture of imposed modesty and imposed shame and chattel status of women.

    The film-maker has gone on record beseeching the Indian government, and its Prime Minister personally, to lift the ban quickly to allow this film to be what she wants it to be: an uplifting and hopeful declaration that India is one of the lights leading the call for a worldwide improvement in the status of women in society.

    I deeply hope India’s government will listen, and act quickly to stand with this documentary instead of against it. Because they will be judged quite powerfully on how they choose.

  6. says

    Wow, so it is.

    And the Indian government has complained to the BBC about it and demanded that YouTube take it down, but by now a lot of people have it and they can keep uploading it, so…

    I’ve watched 8 minutes so far.

  7. jockmcdock says

    It’s been removed from a couple of YT links and I can’t see it on BBC iPlayer.

    This link worked for me two minutes ago


    If you’re using Windows and Firefox, you can add the add-on Ant Videos to download YT videos. Otjher OSs and iE??? Any suggestions?

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