New Delhi 08 Jan 2015
The Social Democratic Party of India, (SDPI), has deplored the controversy brewing for last few days around the documentary “Storyville: India’s daughter”, made by the British filmmaker Ms Leslee Udwin which has been worsened by Indian Government’s ban on it. The documentary focuses on the brutal rape and murder in December 16, 2012 of a 23-year old paramedical student in Delhi.
SDPI national women’s wing convener Mrs. Yasmeen Farooqui said that India brought this “onslaught” on itself by attempting to ban it. If the authorities had stayed quiet then it probably wouldn’t have raised a ripple. But to muzzle a film because it upsets our comfort and honour is unacceptable. If, as a country, we want to really start a discussion on rape and sexual assault, we have to explore the culture we inhabit, the daily experiences of misogyny and the atmosphere of violence we live in. Without that, hollow bans will only worsen the world’s image of India. Many in the Western media have of course sought to portray India’s ban as a freedom of speech issue with some suggesting that it was a display of the “authoritarian streak” in India’s new ‘strongman leader’ Narendra Modi. The country’s honour, as it were, will remain sullen.

Mrs. Farooqui said that Ms Leslee Udwin is a filmmaker and her job is to hold up a mirror to the society. She has done this successfully. The documentary has portrayed the courage, sensibility and liberal outlook of a family traumatised by the brutality inflicted on their daughter and the continuing “shameful attitudes” towards women among the convict as well as the educated, including lawyers.

She said the Indian government’s attempt to suppress this film has precisely backfired, provoking an even broader domestic and global debate on the complex questions it raises. If people disagree with the message of the film, they can refute it or even condemn it, but not insist that it be banned, she added.
She said that she did not find anything so offensive, questionable and new which could become the solid ground of banning it, except the interview of one of the accused, Mukesh Singh and his defence lawyers. Their argument was that only girls and women are to be blamed for such incidents. The convicted “murderer and rapist’s views” blaming the victim “were shocking in their callousness and lack of remorse, she added.

Mrs. Farooqui wanted the documentary should be freely available as far as possible and urged media outlets to challenge the Indian court’s “unwarranted” restriction, which is “inconsistent with the country’s own domestic legal protections for free expression, as well as with its international obligations to uphold freedom of speech.”

She appealed to the Union Government to revoke the ban and enable the people to view “the positive and powerful documentary touching on the freedom, dignity and safety of women.”
She lamented that rapes are still occurring in our country at the same alarming rate. “Hardly a day goes by when we don’t hear about such incidents. Why, even after tightening our laws and investigation system after the Nirbhya case, still, these kinds of crimes are taking place unchecked in the length and breadth of our vast country, she questioned.

Mrs. Farooqui demanded that the convicts in the December 16 rape and murder should be hanged forthwith after going through all the judicial process at a fast pace. Three years after the gruesome murder they are still free to give interviews. Their hanging would give some solace to the traumatised victim family who feel devastated after the gory incident.

She urged the government should form a panel in each state to analyse the mindset of men in all religions and communities towards women so that remedial steps could be taken accordingly. “A culture of sexual violence engulfs all and parliamentary diktats can do little to bring systemic change”, she stated. 6

She said the women are more responsible for the plight of women in our country than men are. As mothers, they instil the sense of superiority in males (you are a boy- roam around with any number of girls, only do not commit yourself), as wives they keep backing their husbands irrespective of whatever his improprieties (Mera Pati Mera Devta Hai) and as mothers-in-law, they show living hell to even “Agyakari bahus” (daughter-in-laws). If the “bahu” is less accommodating they label her as “bad”. Many of the honour killings have women as the primary perpetrators. Female foeticide is also so rampant because of the connivance of women. Sadly, women have to be saved from women.

Mrs. Farooqui said: “Ms Udwin has shown us the true picture of India. We all Indians know this but we don’t want to accept it for our misconceptions in the name of culture. In real there is no culture no respect for women at all. We always say that we have matured but the reality is that 70 per cent people need to change their mindset male and female both against women.