ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Violated Once More

In its competitive frenzy, the media tramples on the very rights it claims to uphold.

The Indian print and electronic media’s coverage of “sensational” crimes over the past few years increasingly shows that apart from a few honourable exceptions, the competitive frenzy is pushing ethics and social responsibility to nonexistent levels. Whether it is the Arushi-Hemraj murder case, the Scarlett Keeling murder case, or the tens of others that capture the headlines, prejudiced and insensitive reporting is the order of the day. The coverage of the alleged rape of a young student by six young men in Mumbai recently has added to this list.

Section 228 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) makes the disclosure of the rape victim’s identity or any other details that help to identify him or her, a punishable crime. But Mumbai’s leading tabloid could not care less. It “scooped” the first information r eport (FIR) filed by the victim and printed it verbatim (containing minute details about her and a description of the assault), e xcept for her name. Women’s organisations held a demonstration outside the Times of India building which houses the tabloid’s office and d emanded that it print an apology on its front page for publishing details indicative of the victim’s identity and for p rinting her statement to the police without her permission. E xcept for The Hindu, the rest of the media i gnored the protest. Interestingly, while the tabloid apologised to its readers and not to the victim, it maintained that FIRs are p ublic documents and hence could be published. That such a vastly circulated publication brought out by one of the most prominent media houses lacks a sense of propriety is reflective of the prevailing norms by which business is conducted. The commercial media has indeed set a dubious record.

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