Actress Meryl Streep along with India native Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) will be presenting the documentary India’s Daughter by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin this Monday, March 9 at the Baruch College of the City University of New York. Centering on the 2012 brutal gang rape of a young woman on a Delhi bus, the film was scheduled to premiere in India via New Delhi Television on March 8 (International Women’s Day), but was intercepted by local police who secured a court injunction against the film.
The horrendous incident sparked a national outcry followed by fervent street protests in India. Co-produced by Indian journalist Dibang, the film features an interview with one of the jailed perpetrators, Mukesh Singh, who said women were more responsible for rapes than men. The shocking yet frequent sentiment behind that previous statement – which is a defining factor of rape culture – combined with the banning of the film works to augment the need for rape education and prevention that films of this nature can assist in providing (the Sundance documentary The Hunting Ground deals with the same problems happening directly on U.S. soil). For this reason, Streep (soon to be starring in Suffragette, a film about the early women’s rights movement) and Pinto, who is the global ambassador for Plan International’s “Because I am a Girl” campaign, feel the necessity to draw attention to this pervasive issue.
Filmmaker Udwin was inspired to make the film from a place of positivity and hope rather than a direct reaction from the horror of rape. She recalls the Indian protests as an “Arab spring for gender equality… They were protesting for my rights and the rights of all women.”
Also assisting with the premiere will be the Vital Voices Global Partnership, an organization empowering emerging female leaders and entrepreneurs. Members include actress Sally Field, and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg.
The entire world must heed this wise and brave call. It’s not just India – it’s everywhere,” said Vital Voices’ Vice President of Human Rights Cindy Dyer. “The film reveals the shocking but ingrained cultural norms that continue to persist among some men and women in our society, and it paints with vivid detail the thought processes of the perpetrators who commit these crimes.