Leslee Udwin’s “India’s Daughter” – Let us ask some questions

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Both mainstream news and social media are set afire by the BBC documentary “India’s Daughter” about the rape and murder of a 23 year medical student, Jyoti Singh, in Delhi in 2012. What sparked the outrage and protest is the interview with Mukesh Singh, one of the men convicted in the rape and on the death row. In the documentary, he appeared to show no remorse and blamed the rape victim for being out at night. Here is the trailer/promo for the film.

The film was banned by the Government of India. The reason for the ban, according to the CNN article India: Rape documentary excerpts ‘incite violence against women’ is that it “appear(s) to encourage and incite violence against women.” It might not be very smart for the government to ban this documentary. It simply gave the film unprecedented and undeserved popularity.

In the documentary, the rapist Mukesh Singh appears to be a sadistic and sick psychopath with no respect for women (the same can be said of his lawyer as well). He deserves to be on the death row and that’s where he finds himself now. In fact, many people will agree that the government should not waste any more of taxpayer’s money in keeping him alive longer.

Having said that, let us ask some questions on this documentary and the repercussions that it may have on the people of India:

  1. Leslee Udwin, the producer and director of the documentary says “I have constantly stressed this is not an Indian problem, it is a global problem. I remain confident that this film will be a powerful tool for change”. If this was true, why is the documentary called “India’s Daughter”? Why not “Daughters of the World”? She could have very easily found several thousand Nirbhayas and sick rapists across the world!
  2. Udwin protests that the ban is an attempt to muzzle free speech by the government of India. That might be  true by itself. But reports are emerging that Mukesh Singh was paid Rs. 40,000 ($600) for the interview. He had apparently demanded Rs. 2 lakhs ($3000) but the deal was fixed for Rs. 40,000. If you consider the background and financial situation of Mukesh Singh, that is a large sum of money. That was not exactly “free” speech, was it? (Leslee Udwin has denied giving money for the interview)
  3. According to “India’s Daughter: Rape convict paid Rs.40,000 for interview?”,

Singh agreed to the interview after they settled on this amount, even though permission from authorities had already been granted by then. None of the money was found to be in Singh’s Prisoner Property account but the reports says that the investigation at Tihar found that Singh’s family had received the money.

 So there has been some under the table dealing as well! Hmm.. Interesting

  1. There are 90,000 reported rapes a year in the United States where as there are about 30,000 reported rapes in India. When you take into account the population of these two countries, it is a ratio of 90,000 to 300 million in the US against 30,000 to 1.2 billion in India. There are 10 times more rapes per capita in US when compared to India. This does not justify the rapes happening in India but it shows that this is not merely a problem of “India’s Daughters”. So, again, why not “Daughters of the World”?
  2. Sick rapists are everywhere, not just in India. You can find many stories such as thisthis, this and hundreds more. In a display of true spirit of capitalistic ingenuity, this one sells rape cards on the internet. These make for much better stories and more powerful documentaries. It supports Udwin’s stated cause much better.
  3. According to this article, the director said that “global statistics on rape that were a part of the Indian and international TV broadcasts did not make it to the BBC version that spread over the Internet”. That is interesting. Now what is the explanation for that?
  4. In spite of such high rates of rape in countries such as US and UK, have you ever seen such solidarity and resolve of the society (both men and women) against rape in any of those countries? So, Leslee Udwin, why are Indian men stereotyped as rapists when rapes are much lower in India compared to the west? This stereotyping has repercussions. The documentary itself might not cause any big wave but repeated attempts such as this will result in undue racial profiling of Indian men. This could affect millions of Indian men working abroad, tourism in India and even business opportunities for Indian companies. This is exactly the kind of thing that the Government of India is trying to prevent.