Hiding a Crisis

8320403173_186c1126ff_oIndia cannot overturn the rapist mentality by curtailing free expression.

By Mahendra Ved.

She was symbolically named ‘Nirbhaya’, one who is unafraid, since Indian law does not permit naming a rape victim. The Western media, not governed by any such law, printed her name, and her fate became known across the world. Yet though statistics suggest a woman is raped every 21 minutes in India, many in that country would like nothing more than to leave the terrible tragedy and international embarrassment behind. But twenty-seven months after her infamous gang rape and death, Nirbhaya is once again in the news.

In March, the BBC aired India’s Daughter, a documentary film about the incident and the unprecedented street protests it triggered. In India, the documentary was, controversially, banned. The official reason is specious. Proponents of the documentary say their nation needs to see it. Opponents say their country is being singled out for a crime that, though tragic, is a common global phenomenon.

India’s Daughter

Records show that since 1959, India’s Central Board for Film Certification has banned, either initially or permanently, 24 films, for reasons ranging from political overtones to spreading superstition to explicit sexual content to depicting India and/or Indians in a poor light. Surrounded by arguments in Parliament, public protests, and a media storm, India’s Daughter became the 25th.

As soon as the BBC film was banned, it went viral on the Internet. It was not aired in India, but the ban has …

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