Explained: Child Rights Body Asks Netflix To Stop Streaming Bombay Begums

Though Bombay Begums does portray children consuming drugs and alcohol, Netflix has rated the show for adult audiences only.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has directed OTT platform Netflix to stop streaming its new show Bombay Begums stating that the content of the show is harmful for children.

The NCPCR stated that it is taking action against Netflix and the series creators after receiving complaints about the show on Twitter. The tweets allege that the show normalises minors being sexually active and consuming drugs and alcohol.

After being tagged in the replies to the tweets, NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo replied stating that action would be taken against Netflix and the show runners.

In its notice dated March 11, 2021, the NCPCR stated that the content of the show "will not only pollute young minds of the children, and may also result into abuse and exploitation of children".

Stating that the NCPCR does not allow "representing, portraying and glorifying children in India in such a manner", it directed Netflix to take extra precaution while streaming any content featuring or targetted towards children and should "refrain from getting into such things".

The NCPCR has given Netflix 24 hours to submit a detailed action report within 24 hours or risk facing legal action.

Bombay Begums is a six-episode web series helmed by Alankrita Shrivastava and features an ensemble cast including Pooja Bhatt, Shahana Goswami, Amruta Subhash, Plabita Borthakur, Aadhya Anand, Imaad Shah and Rahul Bose

What Content Did The NCPCR Find Objectionable?

In its notice, the NCPCR cited two tweets which raised objections about the content of the show. In the show, minors have been portrayed consuming drugs and alcohol and being sexually active. The age of consent in India is 18 years.

The first tweet, by documentary film-maker Deepika Bhardwaj, features a screenshot from the show where a minor girl is pictured snorting a line of cocaine.

The screenshot is from a scene where the teenaged protagonist goes to a party and consumes drugs and alcohol. She is eventually hospitalised after passing out in the party.

The second tweet, by the Twitter account Gems of Bollywood, features a 59 second clip from the show. The clip shows schoolgirls taking explicit photos and sending them to their male classmates.

How Has Netflix Responded?

At the time of writing, Netflix has yet to issue a statement on the notice. BOOM reached out to Netflix who declined to comment.

BOOM also reached out to series creator Alankrita Shrivastava but received no response.

Is There A Case Against Netflix And Bombay Begums?

Like many OTT platforms, Netflix cannot physically prevent children from watching explicit and mature content. Instead, it provides mature content ratings and classifications and relies on parents and guardians to set up parental controls to prevent children from watching explicit and mature content.

While Bombay Begums does portray children being sexually active and consuming drugs and alcohol, Netflix has rated the show 18+. According to their system, shows with the 18+ rating are recommended for adults above 18 years of age.

Before each episode, Netflix also highlights content due to which it awarded a particular rating like sex, drugs, language, sexual violence among others.

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