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India's daughter: why BBC shouldn't have aired the documentary

 

  India's Daughter, BBC, Delhi Rape
Last updated 08 Mar 2016 09:43:08 +0530  
In response to the letter from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry of India that sought non-telecast of “India’s Daughter, BBC’s Director of Television, Danny Cohen, wrote, India’s Daughter has a strong public interest in raising awareness of a global problem and the BBC is satisfied with the editorial standards of the film.
 

British documentary filmmaker Leslee Udwin’s “India’s Daughter,” based the Delhi gang-rape case of December 16, 2012, has sparked outrage in almost all domains of Indian society and the divided voices have been heard in the parliament of India, in the newsrooms and TV studios, in forums of social activism.

Despite the documentary being termed by many as representative of the general but uncomfortable societal view about women, the government of India has restricted telecast and online broadcast or display of the documentary in India following reactions over the parts of the documentary that carried views of a convicted prisoner, which came to public notice days before “India's Daughter” was aired on a BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) channel in UK, on March 4, 2015.

UK’s public broadcaster BBC justified airing of “India’s Daughter” saying that the documentary was a “revealing insight into a horrific crime that sent shock waves around the world and led to protests across India demanding changes in attitudes towards women,” according to a PTI report published in the Financial Express.

In response to the letter from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry of India that sought non-telecast of “India’s Daughter,” BBC’s Director of Television, Danny Cohen, wrote, “India’s Daughter has a strong public interest in raising awareness of a global problem and the BBC is satisfied with the editorial standards of the film.”

Yes, there is no doubt that “India’s Daughter” rediscovers and speaks out the most uncomfortable truth in regard to the views of India as a society about its women, which quite convincingly might have played a role in converting many of country’s men into a rapists.

A careful view to the documentary however raises several questions reflecting lacks in display of responsible journalism in the documentary and those points certainly shouldn’t have been ignored by a credible institution like BBC.

 

Quotation starts

A careful view to the documentary however raises several questions reflecting lacks in display of responsible journalism in the documentary and those points certainly shouldn’t have been ignored by a credible institution like BBC.

Quotation ends

 

Started like a linear structure movie with an introduction about the aforementioned Delhi gang-rape case, the documentary subsequently throws light on the background, perceptions and dreams of the victim through the views of her parents and the tutor. In the flow, the documentary explains the parallel progression of events culminated in the brutal incident of the day while rediscovering the views of men about the women in a patriarchal society like India and facilitating the debate over who to be blamed for a crime as heinous as rape, all through the views of parents, tutor, defence lawyers and the one who is convicted in the case.

After about 16 minutes, the documentary displays gross irresponsibility, when a convicted in the case is allowed to explain how the most inhuman act was taking place inside the bus, which the victim and his boyfriend boarded in.

The particular part, which perhaps has qualified the documentary to be termed by some as “voyeuristic,” doesn’t only look like an irresponsible inclusion but it also looks unnecessary because the brutality of the incident are well established through sound-bites or interviews of the mother of the victim, rescuer, senior police officials, doctor and a piece of news about the incident inserted as part of the documentary. So, the first-hand account of the crime by the rape convicted could have been avoided and a more decent presentation, matching the editorial standards of BBC, could be ensured.

The other part, at about 53 minutes of the documentary, which is grossly dissatisfying and distasteful is the part that shows opinions of the convicted about the possible fallouts of execution of the death penalty he has been sentenced by an Indian court. The rape convicted is not a statesman like figure whose views on the possible consequences make any bigger sense for the society at large. Inclusion and dissemination of such views of the convicted prisoner would rather influence criminals of similar category, endanger the lives of victims of such crimes and cause huge damage to the society.

And, the obvious question it raises is, how indispensable are these views for the documentary and the subject it deals with? What is the argument the filmmaker wants to justify through these particular views of the convicted prisoner sentenced to death? If it’s used in support of the argument that the rapist doesn’t have any sign of remorse after the crime and even after being convicted, that is already established from his views about women, rape and many other things!

A credible organisation of BBC stature shouldn’t, and mustn’t, become a platform to promote such views of a criminal by allowing their broadcast. This certainly raises questions about the commitment and responsibility of an organisation like BBC, which is believed to be the role model and guiding institution for journalists and related media persons world over, towards the society.

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