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Response to BBC broadcast

 

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Working Committee statement

 

On May 21 st, the BBC aired a nine-minute video on Auroville in its programme NEWSNIGHT.

The video focuses on allegations that some Aurovilians and Auroville guests engage in sexual activities with minor children from the surrounding villages and that Auroville does nothing about it.

The film is an outrageous piece of tabloid journalism, put together with the sole objective to produce a sensational story. The journalist has not verified the truth of the allegations which are unsubstantiated and unproven. Neither has the journalist checked the motives and credibility of the interviewees. They have since been identified as persons who have been asked to leave Auroville in the past for reasons of misbehaviour and therefore bear a grudge. The film is peppered with malicious innuendo in an attempt to show the truth of the allegations.

No opportunity has been given to any Auroville authority to refute the statements. Only after strong protests from both the Working Committee and Auroville International UK did the BBC agree to include a short interview with a member of the Working Committee. This interview was tagged on to the video and aired after it, and is therefore far less persuasive then if it would have been included within the film itself.

Auroville runs various schools for village children, which have been co-financed by both DFID and the European Commission and as such have come under the scrutiny of a wide range of people during project evaluations, as well as the Education Department of the Govt. of Tamil Nadu and the Ministry of Human Resource Development of the Govt. of India. If child abuse was happening as claimed in the video, it would have been investigated, given the high ethical and operational expectations they hold of Auroville.

Auroville has zero tolerance towards sexual activities with minors and does not tolerate such behaviour from Aurovilians or Auroville guests. As soon as information about such activities comes to our notice, the matter is investigated and swift action is taken against the perpetrator who is made to leave Auroville and the Indian authorities are informed.

Auroville cannot control what happens in the surrounding area. Many guest houses and private home-stays have come up in the villages and in Pondicherry , and we are not aware what happens there. Auroville is in regular contact with the local police authorities, as there is a tendency to attribute any unpleasant happening within the area as being of Auroville's doing, or in some way connected with Auroville's presence in the area.

We are taking legal action against the BBC for showing this film and making these harmful statements.

The Working Committee

 

23-05-2008

 

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