Nirbhaya documentary row: Why Modi Government's decision to ban film can't be justified

For the last few days, the Nirbhaya documentary ‘India's daughter' by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin has stirred a controversy in the country. Much has been written in newspapers with catchy headlines, social media is abuzz with word #Nirbhayainsulted, dramatic scenes are being played out in Parliament. Everyone is criticising the documentary for carrying the interview of the accused who has held the victim responsible for the whole episode. 

The hue and cry has prompted the Indian Government to put a ban on the movie. Now, the movie won't be telecast in India but will it prevent the rising number of crime against women in our country. The answer is surely no. If the society is really concerned about the growing crime against women, it will first have to change its mindset. There is nothing wrong in the documentary it only highlights the sick mentality of our society and the British filmmaker has only tried to show us mirror.

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What is the documentary all about?

The controversial documentary ‘India's Daughter' features an interview with one of the six accused. In the documentary accused, Mukesh Kumar, who is on death row in connection with the rape of 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist on December 16, 2012 on board a moving bus in Delhi, showed no remorse for the rape. Kumar reportedly said that women are more responsible for rape than men. He has also made some derogatory statements against women in the documentary.

He also says that women who go out at night have only themselves to blame if they attract the attention of gangs of male molesters.

"A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy," he said. Singh also said that had the girl and her friend not tried to fight back, the gang would not have inflicted the savage beating which led to her death later.
The documentary also has interviews of Nirbhaya's parents, doctors, lawyers and Singh.

Why ban on movie? Damage has already been done

Following an outrage over the documentary, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the government has taken necessary action to stop the telecast of a documentary based on the interview with a convict in the Dec 16 gang-rape case.

Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, the Home Minister said government condemns the December 16, 2012 incident and will not allow to leverage such incidents for commercial use.

While announcing a blanket ban on its telecast, Singh said comments made in the documentary are "highly derogatory and an affront to the dignity of women."

But does a ban on documentary a solution to the problem? Putting a ban makes no sense at this stage. Damage has already been done. Nirbhaya is no more and two and a half years have passed but her parents are still waiting for justice.

The interview showed that the accused Mukesh Kumar has no remorse or guilt for his crime in fact he can be seen blaming the girl for the whole episode. The accused had not learnt anything in two and a half years.

Rather than mulling options to put ban on the film or take legal action against the filmmaker, the government should ensure the speedy delivery of the justice, this would be real tribute to Nirbhaya.

Ban won't change mindset

The Government must understand that putting a ban on documentary will not work, unless and until we change our mindset. BJP MP Kirron Kher on Wednesday rightly said that more than the ban, the government should focus on the mindset. "What those people said, is what we should concentrate on," she said.

"The right to consent, the right over her body remains with a women. No one has the right to blame her for such incidents and no one can tell her not to carry a mobile phone or wear jeans. How is jeans even related to the incident.

Women who wear burqa get raped, women who wear a saree are also being raped. This is the thinking unfortunately," she added.

During the interview, the accused said that girls must not go out after 7 pm, she should wear particular kind of clothes. He said it was girl's fault that she was out late at night. This statement is not new to us. We have heard similar insensitive comments by many of our lawmakers. All the time the girl is held responsible for crime against them.

The mentality needs to be changed, it is not the clothing that invites rapists, but the mindset.Women are not just meant to do household work, like Kher says. It is time that we make gender-sensitisation a priority.

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