Home > Streep campaigns for rape documentary banned in India

Streep campaigns for rape documentary banned in India

Streep said when she first saw the film, she couldn’t speak afterwards. PHOTO: REUTERS

Streep said when she first saw the film, she couldn’t speak afterwards. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK: A film banned by Indian authorities about the deadly rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi has opened in the United States to acclaim, with Hollywood star Meryl Streep saying it deserves to win an Academy Award.

Depicting the rape and murder of a medical student in 2012 that sparked violent protests, the documentary India’s Daughter has been mired in controversy since the Indian government implemented its ban.

But Oscar-winning actor Streep, who introduced the documentary at its US theatrical release in New York City on Wednesday night, said it was worthy of the movie industry’s highest honour. “I’m on the campaign now to get her nominated for best documentary,” said Streep, speaking of the film’s director Leslee Udwin.

Read: Rape film banned in India gets Meryl Streep’s backing for Oscar

The hour-long film chronicles the gang rape of Jyoti Singh, 23, on a moving bus in India’s capital and the subsequent protests started by Indian students. “When I first saw [the film], I couldn’t speak afterwards,” Streep said.

The film draws on extensive footage of an interview in jail with one of the attackers, Mukesh Singh, who blamed the victim for being out in the evening with a male friend. “A decent girl won’t roam around at nine o’clock at night,” he says. “A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.” Sentenced to death, he has appealed his verdict along with three other convicted assailants also on death row.

The documentary, scheduled for broadcasting in 2012 in India, was banned while Udwin was in the country promoting it, the director said during a talk following its screening. In a statement, the government warned that certain excerpts “appear to encourage and incite violence against women”.

Read: Indian police arrest suspect in four-year-old’s rape

The movie will open in US theatres on October 23 nationwide, promoter Christine Merser said. Udwin said she had found hope in the outpouring of support following Singh’s rape, but was dismayed at the timid outcry after a four-year-old girl was raped and beaten with stones in New Delhi earlier this month. “Why are people not out on the streets now?” she said. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.

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