NEW DELHI: India said Thursday it had asked YouTube to block access to a documentary about a savage gang-rape in Delhi, after barring broadcasters from airing the film.
The authorities also confirmed that a legal notice had been issued to the BBC late Wednesday, asking it not to broadcast the documentary as it violated certain agreements with the filmmaker.
“India’s Daughter” has sparked a fierce debate in India because it includes an interview in which one of the rapists blamed the 23-year-old victim, saying she should not have been out at night and should not have fought back.
It was due to be shown in seven countries including India and Britain on Sunday to mark International Women’s Day, but a court ruled late Tuesday that it should not be screened in India.
Home Ministry spokesman MA Ganapathy told AFP the government had asked YouTube to block links to the film in India after large numbers of people viewed it online.
Some links to the film could still be seen in India on Thursday afternoon, but others appeared to be blocked.
The Tihar Jail, where the men convicted of gang rape are lodged and were interviewed for the documentary, issued a legal notice to the BBC and was awaiting its response.
“We issued a legal notice to the BBC late Wednesday night (India time), asking them not to telecast the documentary as it violated the agreement with the documentary maker,” a jail official told AFP on Thursday.
“The main violation was that the complete footage wasn’t shown to the jail authorities and that it couldn’t be broadcast anywhere without our clearance,” the official added.
India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said the government sought the ban because Singh’s comments were “highly derogatory and an affront to the dignity of women”.
The British broadcaster, which brought forward its screening of “India’s Daughter” to Wednesday evening, said it was showing the film early due to public interest.
The BBC; however, has rejected Singh’s claims in their response letter published on the website.
“…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.”
The father of the victim, who died of injuries sustained during the shocking attack, said Thursday he thought everyone should watch the documentary, which showed “the bitter truth” about attitudes to women in India.
“Everyone should watch the film,” news channel NDTV quoted him as saying on its website.
“If a man can speak like that in jail, imagine what he would say if he was walking free.”
The victim’s mother told NDTV she did not object to the ban but believed Singh’s views were widespread in India.
“I don’t care what the government does, bans the film, doesn’t ban the film, the only thing I know is that nobody is afraid,” she said.
“It is not only Mukesh who thinks like this,” she said, referring to Mukesh Singh, who is on death row for the rape and murder of her daughter and was interviewed for the film.
The December 2012 gang-rape of a young physiotherapy student, who cannot be named, highlighted the frightening level of violence against women in the world’s second most populous country and triggered mass protests.
It led to a major reform of India’s rape laws, speeding up trials and increasing penalties, although many campaigners say little has changed for women on the ground.
The documentary is the work of award-winning British film-maker Leslee Udwin, and has sparked fierce debate in India.
One government minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, called it a “conspiracy to defame India”, but several lawmakers criticised the government for appearing more worried about saving the country’s reputation than making it safer for women.