Streep was joined by a star cast including actress Pinto, Akhtar, talk show host Tina Brown and former UN Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos among others at the US premiere of the documentary produced and directed by Leslee Udwin yesterday.
“What is worse than brutality that dehumanises women? Tolerance and indifference towards it, acceptance that this is just the way things are. What is worse than rape, violence, cruelty? Tolerance for it. That’s worse,” Streep said to a packed theatre at the Baruch College of the City University of New York where the premiere was presented by NGO Vital Voices Global Partnership and children’s development organisation Plan International. A solemn Streep was joined by the other celebrities and activists on stage as they began the premiere by lighting a candle in the honour of the young paramedical student who died days after she was brutally gangraped by six men on December 16, 2012. Streep, Pinto and Udwin referred to the victim by her actual name Jyoti Singh as they addressed the audience, which watched the hour-long documentary in stunned silence, gasping as it heard the accused Mukesh Singh recount the inhuman incident in an unrepentant tone. Streep said that the victim’s name was not known for days after the tragedy and she was called “India’s Daughter”. “For weeks after her death, she was nameless, she was known as India’s daughter. Tonight she is our daughter too,” Streep said.
Tonight we light the magic candle to honour the value of the girl’s short and promising life, Streep said and quoted the victim’s father who had said that in death, his daughter has shown light to a greater movement of achieving equality for women and ending discrimination. Udwin, who received a thunderous applause at the conclusion of the documentary, said while the Indian government has banned the documentary, there are “many forward looking people in India who will call for change in response to this rape.”