David Shearer –
‘India’s Daughter,’ a BBC documentary by Leslee Udwin about the gang-rape and murder of 23-year old medical student ‘Nirbhaya,’ (meaning ‘Fearless’) on a Delhi bus, was seen in Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Britain, and around the world.
The Indian government argued as to who authorised the killers of Nirbhaya to enable them to be interviewed for the documentary. This missed the essential point.
‘India’s Daughter,’ will of course be hard to watch.
Reason for hope
Nirbhaya (the name given to the young woman, withholding her real name) was a treasured daughter, hardworking and full of promise. She died of the terrible injuries she received on that Delhi bus, through no fault of her own.
But the documentary also gives reason for hope. It shows the massive protests across India that followed the crime.
Women and men participated in the huge demonstrations held across the country. It was a powerful uprising calling for an end to violence against women.
It showed India as a place where people can freely express themselves, challenging the view of some that abusing women is somehow okay, and demanding change.
As Udwin explained to the ‘Guardian’, “What impelled me to … make the film was not so much the horror of the rape as the inspiring and extraordinary eruption on the streets. A cry of ‘enough is enough.’ They were protesting for my rights and the rights of all women. That gives me optimism. I cannot recall another country having done that in my lifetime.”
Ironically, when authorities banned the documentary in India, they guaranteed it enormous publicity, domestically and around the world. It was a counterproductive decision.
India has long been a world leader in education for women, and its constitution guarantees equality.
I hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will recognise the unstoppable and rising demand for change developing among his people, and intervene to allow the domestic broadcast of ‘India’s Daughter.’
If others around the world can see it, why should not Indians be able to watch and engage in this very important debate.
David Shearer is Member of Parliament elected from Mt Albert and Labour Party’s Spokesman for Foreign Affairs and Consumer Affairs.
Please read our editorial, ‘Why India banned the ‘daughter film’ under Viewlink.