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Sarika Bhattacharyya is the co-founder and director of Altavis Pvt Ltd and co-founder of BizDivas. She works to promote women’s leadership across India while creating a supportive ecosystem for all women who are participating in the growth of the Indian economy

 Rashmi Tiwari is the founder of Aahan Tribal Development FoundationShe works to transform tribal communities in India, arming the community with training, confidence and employment opportunities. 

 As the magistrate of Mumbai’s specialized court for cases under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act, Swati Chauhan’s convictions against traffickers proved the critical value of anti-trafficking courts and serve as a model for the rest of her country, her region, and the world. Currently she presides as a Judge at Family Court in Mumbai. 

The Delhi High Court’s ban of India’s Daughter, a provocative documentary about the 2012 Delhi gang rape of Jyoti Singh – also known by the pseudonym Nirbhaya (fearless) – sparked a global uproar over the lack of security for women and girls in India. Three members of our Vital Voices Global Leadership Network working to advance rights for women and girls in India have offered additional perspectives on the documentary and surrounding controversy.

“From the documentary, disturbing facts surfaced about the dangerously flawed mind sets of some men in India. The alarming part of the interview is the convict’s justification that the girl should not have fought back or resisted when she was being raped. That way, she would not have been killed. Not only the gruesome conduct but this mind set is also a matter of primary concern. Initially after Nirbhaya
‘s rape, penal law was amended for robust prosecution in future. But can flawed mindsets be changed by law only?” -Judge Swati Chauhan

“When I saw the documentary, I felt a deep sense of revulsion against the lawyer. While I believe these kinds of men unfortunately exist in India and we should also talk about it, I also applaud men like Nirbhaya’s tutor and his friend. The issue is much wider than what is represented in the documentary but again to say this is the only true picture of India is also not right. While one can critique the making of the film, the portrayal of the story or even disclosure of the name of the victim (even though parents approval was there), I don’t think the film should have been banned. It should have been shown, debated upon and reflected upon.

 I think the film could have talked more about the way India rallied against the issue of sexual violence and how we are now taking positive steps towards ending it. There are many apps, police vigilance has gone up, corporations are stepping up to extend support, and women are speaking out. We see more incidents being reported now – but it doesn’t necessarily mean the incidents have increased.” -Sarika Bhattacharyya

“Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to watch the documentary. Nevertheless, I feel that any film, which captures facts and makes an attempt to bring out the truth, should not be banned. But girls in India face a myriad of issues branching out from the core issue of a skewed social equilibrium where their needs are foregone for the sake of society. These issues are further compounded by deeply entrenched feudal and corrupt mindsets.” -Rashmi Tiwari

Tonight is the Washington, D.C. premiere of India’s Daughter at the Motion Picture Association of America. Alyse Nelson will moderate a discussion with director Leslee Udwin and associate producer and actress Freida Pinto.

Read about the U.S. premiere in New York on March 9 with Meryl Streep and learn how you can get involved.

Photo of girl (top) is courtesy of David Hume Kennerly.