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Ban on BBC documentary India’s Daughter: Why is it not surprising at all

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By Harshmeet Singh

The Government seems to be developing a special liking for the word ‘ban’. The latest in the series of absurd bans is the one on BBC’s documentary India’s Daughter, based on the Nirbhaya gang rape case.

Government’s argument on ban

What government has to say– Since one of the accused in the case said in an interview (which is a part of the documentary), “a girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy” and “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”, it would tarnish the image of India worldwide.

Banning a documentary in India to save India’s image outside India is a funny thought in itself. It reminds us when Slumdog Millionaire invited outrage from a number of patriotic Indians because they thought that the movie is showing India in the bad light by highlighting its slums, the very slums which really and home to over 50 million people!

Keeping aside the debate on what Mukesh Singh or his lawyers said or the quality of documentary itself, the decision to ban it from airing certainly doesn’t augur well for a supposedly liberal society, if we are one.

Did the Government’s decision help?

As with most cases, the ban on the documentary only enhanced the urge of masses to watch it. Notwithstanding government’s stern stand against the documentary, BBC went ahead to pre-pone the release and uploaded it online.

Considering that the filmmaker would have needed a string of official permissions to conduct the interviews at the first place, Government’s sudden decision to ban the film, after giving the required permissions, looks all the more surprising and hurried.

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Something bad happened? Ban it!

If Government’s reactions to ‘tough situations’ are seen collectively, the decision to ban ‘India’s daughter’ wouldn’t seem surprising at all. In December 2014, a 27 year old woman was raped by a cab driver in Delhi while she was returning home. Government’s action?  Ban the company’s operations!  Surprisingly, this decision came after the company showed all the authority-signed character certificates it had collected from the driver while hiring him. With theever deteriorating law and order situation, one wonders what would be the Government’s stance if it happens in a train? Ban the entire railways? We hope not!

Censor this, Censor that, Censor it all!

The list of recent farcical bans doesn’t limit itself to the Central Government only. The ban on ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ despite removal of all the scenes containing nudity is another example of the authorities imposing their wisdom upon the entire society.

The independent.co.uk termed India as an ‘ultra conservative country’ following the ban on the movie. Considering that the censor board asked the makers of ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ to remove the word ‘lesbian’ from the movie, ban on Fifty Shades of Grey doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Such retrospective steps and doubts on the wisdom of society certainly don’t fall in line with the plans of making India a world force.

The recent beef ban in Maharashtra which drew some sharp reactions from all sections of the society also makes it to the list. From ‘trying to breach people’s freedom of choice’ to ‘trying to press the Hindutava agenda’, several allegations were thrown at the state Government. While some reactions could be termed as coming out of an emotional burst, the short sightedness of the bill can’t be overlooked. It highlights one of the several instances where the Government has levied its opinion over millions of people who may have held a contrasting point of view.

The Government’s decision to ban the documentary gave rise to International headlines such as ‘India bans film in which rapist blames the victim’ – Al Jazeera. It is for the Government to decide what actually brought a ‘bad name’ to the country.

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  • First of all who the hell is BBC to tell us what we should ban or not. Europeans always have a superiority.
    Secondly i give you reasons y it was banned.
    Violation 1- permission was to make a documentary and show it on a social service platform and it was premiered on “BBC”.
    Violation 2- the original footage was not submitted to Indian government which is an rule BTW.
    Violation 3- India demanded a stay on the release of documentary and they disrespected Indian sentiments by still going on an releasing the documentary.
    Violation 4- Name of the Victim was released worldwide.

    moral violations.
    Rape is an global curse the why India was only covered.
    i don’t think you are aware abt the bad effects of this Rape thinking. i belong to family who earn their livelihood through tourism. Not even a single tour passes when my father or uncle don’t have to answer this rape question by Europeans.
    latest German professor statement is an true example.

    As far as bans are concerned we are still living in an environment jaha ek prisioner aisa statement de sakta hai n claim Freedom of speech. Toh pls Some bans are important in dis diversity.

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  • First of all who the hell is BBC to tell us what we should ban or not. Europeans always have a superiority.
    Secondly i give you reasons y it was banned.
    Violation 1- permission was to make a documentary and show it on a social service platform and it was premiered on “BBC”.
    Violation 2- the original footage was not submitted to Indian government which is an rule BTW.
    Violation 3- India demanded a stay on the release of documentary and they disrespected Indian sentiments by still going on an releasing the documentary.
    Violation 4- Name of the Victim was released worldwide.

    moral violations.
    Rape is an global curse the why India was only covered.
    i don’t think you are aware abt the bad effects of this Rape thinking. i belong to family who earn their livelihood through tourism. Not even a single tour passes when my father or uncle don’t have to answer this rape question by Europeans.
    latest German professor statement is an true example.

    As far as bans are concerned we are still living in an environment jaha ek prisioner aisa statement de sakta hai n claim Freedom of speech. Toh pls Some bans are important in dis diversity.

Next Story

India Can Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?

A total of 548 global experts on women’s issues , 43 of them from India

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BJP Leader Asks Parents Of A Rape Victim To Express Gratitude To Them
Can India Really Take An Ostrich Approach To The Condition Of Women?. Flickr

-By Deepa Gahlot

You read with a mixture of alarm and scepticism, the poll report by the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation that India is the most dangerous country in the world for women, beating Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

According to reports, a total of 548 global experts on women’s issues — 43 of them from India — were asked about risks faced by women in six areas: healthcare, access to economic resources and discrimination, customary practices, sexual violence, nonsexual violence, and human trafficking. And shockingly, India comes out as the worst!

We see women progressing in every field in India, but, there is also the increasing violence against women and young girls reported every day; not long ago, female tourists felt safe in India; but now, women travelling solo are constantly targeted. Everyday there are reports of the rapes and murders of minor girls, often accompanied by unimaginable torture and mutilation.

There has been outrage in India, and also holes punctured in the survey that has such a small number of respondents, but can we really take an ostrich approach to the condition of women? Even as education and healthcare improve for women — at least in metro cities — the contempt for women is socially and culturally ingrained in the Indian psyche. In a city like Mumbai considered progressive and relatively safe for women, the girl child is unwanted even by many educated and wealthy families. In spite of laws being in place, female foeticide and infanticide is rampant, to the extent that there are large territories where there are no girl children and brides for the men have to be ‘imported’ from other states.  As dowry murders and rapes rise, the more unwanted the girl child becomes.  The fact is that India’s gender ratio is deplorable.

And if the male child is valued over the girl child, he grows up believing that he is special and if he is thwarted in any way, he can resort to violence. In spite of education and exposure to progressive ideas, in the case of rape or sexual violence, the tendency to blame and shame the victim persists.

To give just one small example, in the West, accusations of sexual harassment resulted in united shunning of a man as powerful as Harvey Weinstein and many others in the wake of the #MeToo movement, that helped many women speak out about their experiences.

In India, Malayalam actor Dileep, who has been accused in the abduction and rape of an actress, and was boycotted by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), was recently reinstated. This caused shock and dismay among women in the film industry.

A statement by a group of over 150 women film practitioners says it like it is, “A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.

“We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused. We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.

“Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today, women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.”

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Indian women. VOA

The preference for male children has had some unexpected ramifications. In a working paper published by the American non-profit, National Bureau of Economic Research, by Northwestern University’s Seema Jayachandran and Harvard University’s Rohini Pande (quoted in Quartz Media), finds that stunting in Indian children could also be blamed on the cultural preference for sons.

“In India, on average, the first child — if he is a son — doesn’t suffer from stunting. But, if the first — and so the eldest — child of the family is a girl, she suffers from a height deficit. And, then, if the second child is a boy, and hence the eldest son of the family, he will not be stunted. This happens because of an unequal allocation of resources to the first child”.

According to the report, “When Jayachandran and Pande compared India and Africa results through this lens, they found that the Indian first and eldest son tends to be taller than an African firstborn. If the eldest child of the family is a girl, and a son is born next, the son will still be taller in India than Africa. For girls, however, the India-Africa height deficit is large. It is the largest for daughters with no older brothers, probably because repeated attempts to have a son takes a beating on the growth of the girls.”

Also read: Has Legal Framework Turned a Blind Eye towards Under-representation of Women in Indian Politics?

In spite of all the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao rhetoric, the required shift in the male-centric attitude towards a more egalitarian one is simply not happening; or, it is a case of one step forward, two steps backward. The Thomson Reuters Foundation report may be unfair and skewed, but being known as the rape capital of the world does nothing to improve the image of India in the world or even in its own eyes. (IANS)