"India's Daughter," the BBC documentary about the 2012 gang rape of Jyoti Singh, made its U.S. premiere at Baruch College in New York City on Monday despite the film's suppression in India. Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto attended the event, which included a vigil and a post-film panel discussion on women's rights.
Directed by Leslee Udwin, the film examines the global-headline making rape and assault of 23-year-old Singh, who died from internal injuries sustained during the attack. According to the Guardian, the documentary was set to air Sunday on an Indian television station before the premiere was halted by court order, which Indian authorities say was meant to maintain public order. The film had sparked controversy the week prior, due to an interview with one of the convicted rapists in which he blamed Singh for her own assault.
"A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy," he says in the film. "A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night. ... Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes."
During discussions surrounding the film's screening, Udwin, Streep and Pinto each emphasized the global cultural implications of the violence portrayed in the film.
"What is worse than violence?" Streep said. "Violence sanctioned by misogyny."
“This is not just an India problem; this is a problem that inflicts almost every country in the world,” Pinto, who served as a producer on the film, told The Associated Press. “There’s not a single country in 2015 that is free of sexual violence against women.”
"The disease is not rape, and the disease is not human trafficking," Urwin said. "The disease is gender inequality. And all these things are the metastases of the primary tumor."
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-656-HOPE for the National Sexual Assault Hotline.