Wrong to ban rape documentary, says Kiran Bedi

| Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 18:46
First Published |
Kiran Bedi

Washington: Former top cop and BJP leader Kiran Bedi has said that the controversial BBC documentary on the Delhi gang rape case need not have been banned by the government without watching and analysing it, as it meets the "needs of crime prevention strategies" in chauvinistic segments of Indian society.

The documentary, "India's Daughter", about the infamous 2012 Delhi gang rape, premiered in the US this week but has been banned by the Indian government.

Bedi said in an interview, that the film is "very strongly reflective of a prevailing mindset, which is rampant in our country, both in urban and rural settings".

Currently in the US on a speaking tour, Bedi, who has seen the documentary, said the film "meets the need for a holistic crime prevention approach, particularly crimes against women". The male mindset of certain segments of society continues to be parochial, she said, adding that they feel that the "space of women has to be restricted", and that women are supposed to be "subordinate" to the male needs.

"While you have many progressive men in India today, there is a very large percentage of men who are controlling the lives of women," Bedi said.

"I see this every day while working with families through my voluntary work. For me this film is very comprehensive evidence of all that India needs to address in this regard.

Number one: this prevailing medieval male mindset. And secondly, sluggish criminal justice system. "For instance, this case is pending before the highest court for close to a year after being fast-tracked. Third is the apathetic community response in several cases of crimes against women," she argued.

The film, she noted, provides evidence of community indifference, weaknesses of justice system, ill equipped enforcement mechanisms, and of outdated mindset.

"From my perspective, this film could have been used as a catalyst for a much needed social revolution in India both for administrative learning as well as addressing the attitudes to ask people - how many of you are still like that?" Bedi said.

"Hiding (banning the movie) is not the answer. Confronting the stark reality is the answer," she said. "Yes," she said when asked if she believed that it is wrong of the Indian government to ban the film.

"To my mind a different perspective was needed to look at the film. How do you reform behaviours without confronting the truth? How will we really fulfil, 'Beti Padao, Beti Bachao'? (slogan given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi)," she asked.

Bedi noted, the government could have at least watched the film before deciding to ban it. "They should have seen the film before banning the film. I don't think the parliamentarians got to see the film. Without seeing a film, banning is a hasty step," she said.

"But then government is the final arbiter and its order is the law and needs to be respected," she said. Responding to a question on the AAP government in Delhi, she said, "In the last few weeks, all I have seen is the party breaking up and secondly the leader too is unfortunately unwell," said Bedi who was the BJP's chief ministerial candidate in the recent Delhi assembly elections.

"At the moment, I think the (AAP) government (in Delhi) is yet to open its account in speedy and comprehensive governance, to give all the freebies promised," Bedi said.

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