India's Daughter airs in the west, while India pursues global ban

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 09 March 2015

India's Daughter, a BBC documentary about the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi, is being aired around the world, despite Indian Government threats to extend a domestic ban to other territories.

The US premiere of the documentary at City University of New York will be attended by Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep and Indian actress Frieda Pinto on 9 March, the day after it was due to be shown by India's NDTV to mark International Women's Day.

The BBC brought forward the film's original transmission date in the UK after the Indian Government last week obtained a court order banning its screening on NDTV, while Canada's CBC News Network, was joined by broadcasters in Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden in airing India's Daughter on 8 March.

The Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting officials had successfully ordered the removal of a number of versions of the video from YouTube on 5 March, the day after India's Daughter had first aired on BBC4's Storyville.

Parliamentary affairs minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, said: "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."

The hard-hitting film remains available within the UK on the BBC's online catch-up TV service iPlayer until 11 March.

Controversy was sparked by an interview in the film with Mukesh Singh, one of four men convicted and sentenced to death for the 2012 rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, who subsequently became known in India as Nirbhaya ('Fearless').

He told filmmaker Leslee Udwin: "a girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy," adding: "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."

Further shocking comments were made by the convicted mens' defence lawyers M L Sharma and A P Singh, which have reportedly since resulted in notices from the Bar Council of India and could lead to the removal of their licence to practice law.

Delhi police said it feared that the documentary's screening could "create a situation of tension and fear amongst women in the society" and that a ban was required "in the interest of justice and maintenance of public order".

Mukesh Singh is also appealing his death sentence, and the transmission in India of the documentary could have been construed contempt of court, critics have also said.

The Editors Guild of India has called on the Indian Government to revoke the ban, saying "India's Daughter portrayed the courage, sensibility and liberal outlook of a family traumatised by the brutality inflicted on their daughter, and the continuing shameful attitudes towards women among the convict as well as the educated, including lawyers."

The Guild asked the government to "enable the people to view what is a positive and powerful documentary touching on the freedom, dignity and safety of women".

The film's maker Leslee Udwin said India's Daughter had offered "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."