(Skip to the end for links to watch the documentary)
I just watched the documentary banned in India, “India’s Daughter” by Leslee Udwin about the brutal gang-rape and murder of Jyoti Singh.
A good documentary
I think the documentary is really good. The makers went to a lot of effort to get extensive statements from people with many different points of view (this list isn’t complete, and is from memory and probably isn’t accurate):
- Jyoti’s parents
- One of Jyoti’s tutors
- One of the rapists
- That rapists’ parents
- Parents of the other rapists
- The juvenile rapist’s parents
- Two of the rapists’ lawyers
- A psychiatrist for the rapists in jail
- A senior police officer (I think)
- Two members of the review committee responsible for reforming the laws in India
The documentary did a really good job, I thought, of showing many sides of the story. It shows without clear judgement the opinions of the rapists, and their point of view, and I was particularly impressed that they interviewed the psychiatrist for the rapists, to get some deeper insight into their mindset.
It’s a shame that India chose to ban the documentary, because it’s a powerful piece of truthful journalism, and I think it would help a lot in the country’s fight against misogyny and the resulting incredibly high incidence of rape together with the lowest likelihood of rapes being reported in the world. Although I’m very glad that Jyoti’s father has called for people to watch the documentary.
Why ban it?
The official justification for the ban comes in this statement from Home Minister Rajnath Singh:
“Our government condemns the incident of December 16, 2012 in the strongest possible terms and will not allow any attempt by any individual, group or organisation to leverage such unfortunate incidents for commercial benefit. The respect and dignity of women, constitutes a core value of our culture and tradition. Our government remains fully committed to ensuring safety and dignity of women.”
Although Minister of Parliamentary Affairs M. Venkaiah Naidu’s sheds more light on the true reason the government objects to it:
“We can ban the documentary in India but there is a conspiracy to defame India and the documentary can be telecast outside. We will also be examining what should be done.”
So the government are worried about hurting India’s reputation (which this documentary probably does do to some extent, but with good cause), but I suspect this ban also has a lot to do with the Indian officials not liking some elements of their own cultural values being challenged quite so starkly. In the documentary, one of the lawyers for the rapists made a claim that over 200 currently sitting MPs in India have had complains of rape made against them which have never gone to trial. The source here is a bit dodgy, but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if that was somewhat true. And this push for international censorship has already had some effect, resulting the BBC pulling the documentary from YouTube.
Ultimately I suspect this ban really will do more damage than the film itself, even by the government’s terms, not only because of the standard Streisand Effect (more people will watch the documentary precisely because it has been banned), but also because the fact that the government would even consider banning such a clearly progressive documentary (by international standards) does far more harm to India’s reputation than anything that could be revealed in the documentary itself.
Watch it now
So because I believe this is a great documentary that everyone should see - for the good of India and its people more than anything else - here are all the ways I can think of that you could watch it:
- If you live in the UK, watch it on iPlayer until Wednesday March 11th.
- If you know how to use Torrents (e.g. with uTorrent), either:
- Download it directly from my mega.co.nz account or my static server.
- Stream it from my poor little VPS: