Banned documentary examines brutal Delhi gang rape

A documentary produced by the BBC focuses on the rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in India. It was a watershed moment in women’s rights in the nation of 1.2 billion but the movie could not be viewed there this week.

The documentary, called “India’s Daughter,” depicts how Jyoti Singh was beaten and gang raped on a bus as it was driving around Delhi in 2012. She later died in a hospital in Singapore. Her male friend also was severely beaten but survived.

One of the accused, bus driver Ram Singh, reportedly hanged himself in his cell. His brother, Mukesh Singh, and three other men, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta, were convicted of rape and murder and sentenced to death. One other accused, a juvenile, was given the maximum sentence of three years in a reform facility.

Following the incident, the Indian government passed new sexual assault laws, including one that set a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years for gang rape.

A documentary depicting the attack, made by Leslee Udwin, was meant to be aired in India on March 8, International Women’s Day, but the Indian government blocked its release on March 4 for fear of inciting more violence, officials said. The BBC ended up broadcasting it that day in the UK.

The movie contains an interview with the jailed Mukesh Singh, who explains in excruciating detail what happened that night and blames the victim for fighting back. “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night,” he says. “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.”

The film also shows footage of the massive street protests around India that ensued, along with interviews with the victim’s parents, Badri and Asha.

They speak warmly of their daughter, who was intent on becoming a doctor. “Jyoti means ‘light’,” her mother says. “We were given a gift of light and happiness when she was born.”

On Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour, Jeffrey Brown interviewed the filmmaker Leslee Udwin.