Entire India is agog with the news that a documentary film has been made on the subject on the 16 December rape of a 23 year old girl in a moving bus in Delhi. Almost all news channels led by Arnab Goswami of the Times News have slotted special discussions and debates on this documentary, which purports to discuss the rape of teh 23 year old girl. the perpetrators of the crime have been arrested and sentenced to death and their appeals are pending in the Supreme Court of India.

The government has moved the court and been able to get a stay on the screening of the film in India. Unfortunately the film is aired by BBC and is still available on the net. So in practical terms the stay has no meaning. But deeper issues are involved and I think this is where the producer director Leslie Udwin has gravely erred.  The film maker has given short shrift to the principle of natural justice, so important in jurisprudence and made the film to sensationalize the rape and earn some money. The film as it is now is devoid of objectivity as the main aim appears to be to earn some dollars.

Before I write anything further, the act of the government in banning the release and exhibition of the documentary is to say the least a juvenile step. After all permission for the film was granted by the Ministry of Home affairs and the film maker allowed all facilities to interview the rapists inside Tihar jail. Nobody can just enter Tihar jail and start an interview, without approval of the government. It is immaterial that approval for the film was given by the previous government ( led by Congress)  and now the BJP is in power, for governance is a continuation and all treaties by a previous government have to be honored.

Coming to the film it has terrible flaws, the film maker has failed to highlight that India is amongst the countries that have the  lowest rape per 100,000 people anywhere in the world. The statistics are revealing the rape rate in India per 100,000 is 1.8. Compare this with Sweden 66.5, USA 26.6, Jamaica 34.1, Norway 22.3 and one can see that India is way below other nations.  In Delhi, which has the highest rape ratio in India it is 4.1. These are 2012 figures as later date figures were not available. In any case they give a fair picture of rape and its prevalence .

The film maker has tried to show that Indian men have a rape mentality and little respect for the fair sex. It is good that she has highlighted this, but then there are thousands who are incensed when such rapes take place. One has to see the public anger and various demonstrations all over the country to see realize that many people are against rape per se.

The film has been made with the co-operation of the parents of the raped and murdered girl. There is a caption at the beginning of the film thanking the parents for all help provided. I wonder what one can make of this? perhaps a needless controversy has been created by the government and given the film undue publicity. This could have been easily avoided, but then Indian's are known to put the foot in their mouth. The root of the problem is in the permission given. This needs to be investigated and the culprits booked. Was there any pecuniary benefit behind this sanction? Or it could be a man or a civil servant or a minster who felt that the accused have been wrongly sentenced to death. It points to a sordid state of affairs in this country. this is what should be tackled and not the film per se. The film is  one sided, but all the same within the rights of free speech and thought as enshrined in the constitution.


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