India’s Daughter

Leslee Udwin

USA 2015, 1h 3min.

indias-daughterIndia’s daughter by British film maker Leslee Udwin tells the gruesome story about the gang rape of 23-year old medical student Jyoti Singh on a New Delhi bus in December 2012. An event which received huge international attention and resulted in an ongoing debate about women’s situation in India. The British- and Indian produced documentary, which recently screened on Norway’s NRK channel, did also create some controversies in its own right. Not least due to the Indian government obtaining the right to legally ban the film, which originally was due to be screened on both Indian and British TV on the International Woman’s Day 8th March. The reasoning was that the film put India in a bad light, and allowed a convicted rapist to speak. In addition, there is some doubt whether the correct permission was given for this interview.

YouTube accepted the governmental demand not to screen the film in India – resulting in the film being frequently shared through other online channels. At their end, the BBC countered the Indian ban by bringing the British screening forward by four days. And for anyone in Norway wanting to watch the film, it is available on the NRK’s site for the foreseeable future.

The strong reactions to the sexualised murder has re-awoken Indian’s sleeping death penalty. Two steps forward can all of a sudden lead to one in the opposite direction.

India’s daughter does not really contain much information not already out in the realm, but is nonetheless an important document by virtue of the film maker speaking to so many of the involved parties. This provides the documentary a detailed view of the events, and paints a frightening picture of an extremely skewed view of women which seems to be very widespread in the world’s largest democracy.

The description of the suffering the young woman experienced that fateful evening and until she died from her extensive injuries, makes an extremely strong impression. Jyoti Singh had been to the cinema with a male friend, and around 9 pm they caught a private bus which they believed was driving them home. On board the bus was a group of six intoxicated young men (one of whom was 17, which in India is legally a minor), who first beat up the friend before raping Singh. Here, they showed an almost unfathomable (but not necessarily exceptional) brutality. In the film, we hear from both medical staff and her desperate parents how Singh was abused with a lead pipe, to such an extent that entrails were hanging out of her body. Several of her organs were so damaged that the doctors did not know what they were trying to stich back together. Early on, they warned that she was unlikely to survive. The 23-year old had almost finished her medical studies, only a short internship remained. The parents had sacrificed a lot to be able to afford her education, despite many people around them disagreeing that it was not worth doing this for a girl.

The documentary […] paints a frightening picture of an extremely skewed view of women which seems to be very widespread in the world’s biggest democracy.

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