BBC Four’s Storyville to broadcast interview with convicted Delhi gang rapist Mukesh Singh
What actually inspired me to commit to the harrowing and difficult journey of making this film was the optimism occasioned by the reports that followed the rape. Courageous and impassioned ordinary men and women of India braved the December freeze to protest in unprecedented numbers...Leslee Udwin, Director-Producer
The interview appears in India’s Daughter, a BBC Storyville documentary by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, which tells the story of the brutal gang rape and murder of 23-year-old medical student Jyoti on a moving bus in Delhi and the unprecedented protests and riots which this event ignited throughout India, demanding changes in attitudes towards women.
On 16 December 2012, Jyoti was returning home from the cinema with a male friend when a bus with five men and a 17 year-old offered them a lift. Subsequently, the men and teenager beat Jyoti’s friend before dragging her to the back of the bus where she was gang raped and brutally assaulted.
Jyoti suffered horrendous injuries to her abdomen, genitals and intestines. After the attack Jyoti, and her friend, were thrown from the moving bus. She subsequently underwent extensive medical treatment but died 13 days after the attack.
Mukesh Singh, the bus driver who admitted driving the bus during the incident, but denied taking part in the attack, was one of five men convicted of Jyoti’s rape and murder and sentenced to death by hanging. He and three others are currently on appeal with their sentences put on hold. Another man charged with rape and murder, Ram Singh (Mukesh’s brother), was found dead in his cell in March 2013. The juvenile convicted of rape and murder was sentenced to three years in a reform facility.
Two lawyers who defended the men convicted of Jyoti’s rape and murder are also interviewed in the programme.
In a previous televised interview, lawyer AP Singh said: “If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight.” And he confirms to Udwin in the documentary that his stance remains the same: “This is my stand. I still today stand on that reply.”
Another defence lawyer who acted in the case, ML Sharma, says: “In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person.”
“You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn't have any place in our society. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”
Jyoti’s mother says: “Whenever there's a crime, the girl is blamed, ‘She should not go out. She shouldn't roam around so late or wear such clothes.' It's the boys who should be accused and asked why they do this. They shouldn't do this.”
An excerpt of this interview can be viewed below.
Writer and historian Dr Maria Misra of Oxford University says: “Her death has made a huge difference. I think that, first of all, it has really brought home the issue of the problems of the way young and independent women are perceived in Indian society. It's opened up a debate in India that I think hasn't been held publicly and widely about exactly what the relationship between men and women should be.”
Jyoti’s father says: “Jyoti has become a symbol. In death, she has lit such a torch that not only this country, but the whole world, got lit up. But at the same time, she posed a question. What is the meaning of ‘a woman’? How is she looked upon by society today? And I wish that whatever darkness there is in this world should be dispelled by this light.”
Director-Producer Leslee Udwin describes what impelled her to make the documentary: “When news of this gang-rape hit our TV screens in December 2012, I was as shocked and upset as we all are when faced with such brazen abandon of the norms of ‘civilised’ society. But what actually inspired me to commit to the harrowing and difficult journey of making this film was the optimism occasioned by the reports that followed the rape. Courageous and impassioned ordinary men and women of India braved the December freeze to protest in unprecedented numbers, withstanding an onslaught of teargas shells, lathi charges and water canons, to make their cry of ‘enough is enough’ heard. In this regard, India led the world by example. In my lifetime, I can’t recall any other country standing up with such commitment and determination for women’s rights.”
Notes to Editors **added 4 March 2015**
The TX of Storyville - India's Daughter has been brought forward to 10pm on 4 March 2015 on BBC Four.
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