India bans broadcast of rape documentary

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An Indian court has banned the broadcast of a documentary on the country’s endemic rape problem, in which a death row convict expresses no remorse for his part in the 2012 fatal gang rape of a woman in New Delhi, placing the blame on the victim.

Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said New Delhi police had obtained a court order late Tuesday banning anyone from broadcasting the documentary, called “India’s Daughter”, on grounds of “objectionable content”.

“We have only seen the promotional parts of the film. Based on that we took the matter to court because we felt that it will cause likely apprehension of public disorder,” he said.

“It shows a very objectionable interview with the convicted rapist.”

Mukesh Singh, one of five men convicted over gang-rape, told award-winning British filmmaker Leslee Udwin from his prison cell that the murdered student should not have been out at night, and blamed her for fighting back against her attackers.

Udwin said she was heartbroken by the ban on the documentary, in which Mukesh said the victim should not have been “roam(ing) around at 9 o’clock at night” and that “a girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy”.

In response to the court order, Udwin said, “The more they try to stop the film, the more they are going to pique people’s interest. Now, everyone is going to want to see it.”

Udwin has publicly appealed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to deal with this unceremonious silencing of the film.”

The documentary was due to be televised in seven countries, including India and Britain on Sunday, International Women’s Day.

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student, who cannot be named, died from her injuries 13 days after she was savagely attacked on a moving bus while on her way home from the cinema with a male friend on December 16, 2012.

Rape reported every 21 minutes in India

India toughened its anti-rape laws in response to the outcry following the horrific attack, but a rape is still reported on average every 21 minutes in India, and acid attacks, domestic violence and molestation are common.

Mukesh’s comments in the documentary have grabbed headlines in Indian newspapers and sparked outrage on social media. Some people have questioned whether the convicts should have been given a forum to express their views.

On Wednesday, India’s home minister Rajnath Singh said he would investigate how the film crew managed to interview Singh and accused Udwin and her team of violating “permission conditions” by not showing the complete unedited footage to jail officials.

“It was noticed the documentary film depicts the comments of the convict which are highly derogatory and are an affront to the dignity of women,” Singh told lawmakers in parliament.

“How was permission given to interview a rapist? It is shocking. I will get this investigated.”

Udwin has earlier said she had permission from both prison authorities and the home ministry to film inside the vast Tihar jail in Delhi for the documentary.

On Tuesday, she told reporters she had given jail officials a chance to sit through hours of unedited footage, but that they did not do so. Officials later approved a pared-down version, she said.

Four men including Mukesh were sentenced to death for the crime, but their execution was later stayed on appeal by India’s Supreme Court.

One of the defendants hanged himself in prison, while another, who was under 18 at the time, got three years in juvenile detention.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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