The Current

Documentary 'India's Daughter' divides activists in India

She was a 23-year-old woman, a medical student ... a daughter. Her death, after a brutal, gang rape on a bus shocked India and the world. Now, a powerful new documentary about the rape and death of Jyoti Singh is proving so controversial it's been banned in India.
The parents of the Delhi rape and murder victim, Asha Devi, left, and Badri Nath Pandey, talk about saving money to help give their daughter an education in a documentary called India's Daughter that will air at 10 p.m. Sunday on CBC. (CBC)

A word of caution as we get the crime at the centre of this discussion is a shocking, and graphic one.

On a December night, a little more than two years ago, a young Indian woman, 23-year-old Jyoti Singh​, a medical student, boarded a bus with a male friend of hers, in Delhi, India. They'd been out to the movies... watching "Life of Pi." It wasn't too late. It was a private bus.

But what happened on that bus is virtually unthinkable — Her male friend was beaten. But Jyoti Singh​ herself was brutalized: violently gang raped by six men, then left for dead on the side of the road, succumbing to injuries and dying two weeks later in hospital. The attack brought protesters into the streets, galvanizing women who demanded justice... demanded that politicians do something. And arrests and convictions have followed in the case.

But as this Indian chief justice explained, equality for women in the eyes of the law — and society, remains elusive.

"The Constitution provides for equality. It hasn't happened because the men haven't allowed it to happen. And they feel that's their hold on women, and because of the historical tradition of patriarchy that has been embedded into men and into women." - Indian Chief Justice from documentary India's Daughter

A new documentary, all about the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh is called, India's Daughter, and it's already proving hugely controversial. It's been banned in India. And it's making headlines worldwide, in part because of the filmmaker's interviews with one of the men convicted of Jyoti Singh​'s rape and murder... who blamed the crime on his victim.

Kalpana Sharma is a columnist and former deputy editor of The Hindu, an English-language Indian daily newspaper. She was in Mumbai.

Sonia Faleiro is a journalist. Her most recent book, "13 Men", looks at gang rape in India. She was in London, England. 

We contacted the Indian embassy in Ottawa to see if they wanted to comment on India's Daughter. We have not heard back yet.

India's Daughter will air on The Passionate Eye, on CBC News Network, this Sunday evening at 10pm.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien and Naheed Mustafa. 


♦ India's Daughter review – this film does what the politicians should be doing -  Sonia Faleiro, The Guardian

♦ Rape, rhetoric and reality - The Hindu