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08.03.2015 Star support for rape documentary

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The BBC4 documentary India's Daughter will premiere in the US on Monday, with actors Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto due to attend the event in a show of support for the film which India has banned, PTI reports.

Non-profit women's body Vital Voices Global Partnership and child rights campaigner Plan International will organise the screening at the Baruch College of the City University of New York.

Oscar-winner Streep and Pinto, global ambassador for Plan's "Because I am a Girl" campaign, will be joined at the premiere by the documentary's director, Leslee Udwin.

The film interviews, among others, one of the prisoners convicted of the December 2012 gang rape in Delhi in an effort to delve into the widespread misogynistic attitudes that lead to violence against women.

The Indian government says Udwin flouted an agreement by selling the film's rights to the BBC for commercial gain and failing to show the jail authorities the unedited footage before airing the convict's inflammatory views.

Udwin, also a Plan ambassador, said the protests that followed the fatal gang rape amounted to an "Arab spring for gender equality".

"What impelled me to leave my husband and two children for two years while I made the film in India was not so much the horror of the rape as the inspiring and extraordinary eruption on the streets. A cry of 'Enough is enough'," she said.

"Unprecedented numbers of ordinary men and women, day after day, faced a ferocious government crackdown that included tear gas, baton charges and water cannon. They were protesting for my rights and the rights of all women. That gives me optimism. I can't recall another country having done that in my lifetime."

Those in Britain who have not yet seen the documentary will have a chance of doing so on Sunday, which was the original transmission time - except that it was advanced to Wednesday because of the growing controversy in India.

In Britain, the film is also available for viewing on iPlayer, which means it can be seen by anyone with Internet access at any time. But this facility is "geo-blocked" and not available outside the UK.

Apart from India, the other countries involved in the making of the documentary - Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Denmark and Norway - can now screen the film on their territories. Some will do so on Sunday to mark International Women's Day.

An average of 286,000 people watched the documentary in Britain on Wednesday. The figure spiked at 350,000, which is small compared with the 9 million viewers that really popular programmes attract.

The BBC won't comment officially on what it would do if the Indian government pursues legal action.

Freida Pinto

However, the BBC thinking is set out in a letter from Danny Cohen, director of BBC Television, sent last Wednesday to Rakesh Singh, joint secretary at India's ministry of information and broadcasting.

Cohen wrote: "The remarks of the perpetrator (convict Mukesh Singh) are set among a number of other views, including those of the parents, ex- or present members of the judiciary, witnesses and personal testimonies. The purpose of including the interview with the perpetrator was to gain an insight into the mindset of a rapist with a view to understanding the wider problem of rape and not just in India."

He added: "We do not feel the film as currently edited could ever be construed as derogatory to women or an affront to their dignity. Indeed, it highlights the challenges women in India face today.

"It should be noted that, although the BBC is happy to take your views into consideration, we are not planning to transmit the film in any territory which lies under Indian legal jurisdiction.

"We think the film is an important account of an event that galvanised Indian opinion to ensure such tragedies are not repeated. Accordingly, after lengthy and careful consideration, we have decided to show India's Daughter."

20.06.2015 16:14:47
kabby15
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