Why do Indian men stay ‘off the record’ when talking to the media about sexual violence?

Slowly stepping into light — recruiting “imperfect allies” by empowering them to not hide behind anonymity. Photo by Palash Jain on Unsplash

Over the past few months, India has been gripped by the #MeToo movement, with a wave of women outing powerful men. After years of systemic oppression, these women’s voices are finding strength in numbers. It is not just an imported “fad”, as some have called it, but an irresistible force that is holding up the proverbial mirror to perpetrators in vaunted spaces such as cinema, media, politics, judiciary, sport and education.

Yet, male voices have been conspicuously absent in India’s #MeToo movement, whether in “outrage, support or reflection”. Panels and op-eds are surprisingly devoid of male participation, except for reactions…

If you tweet out every news story on rape, you’ll be mistaken for a spambot

There are so many stories on sexual violence that they tend to start blurring into one another. Photo credit: pxhere.com

I suddenly realised how dry my eyes felt. I looked away from the newsfeed I had been staring at on the screen. A newsfeed crafted to give me the latest stories on rape, sexual violence, molestation, assault. I wasn’t prepared.

When I was first tasked with compiling a daily newsletter[i] based on stories about sexual violence in the Indian media, I was sceptical. It was a bit of an overkill I thought — putting together a daily round-up would be a struggle. I was partially right. It was a struggle, but not because there were not enough stories. …

Pranav Harsh, Army Officer, Bihar

Photo courtesy: Pranav Harsh

Iget my regular news from TV, newspapers and social media platforms, including WhatsApp, Facebook and news blogs.

The situation that the victim has to face worries me. It doesn’t end with the heinous crime or even punishment for the culprit as society continues to remind her of what happened all her life. The media adds to that by focusing on the victim — instead, it should use its power to reverse this and bring the culprit into the light so that he faces the same situation as the victim.

The media should report on rape extensively so that we realise…

The July 27 round-up of Note This: highlights from NewsTracker and more

Anushka Kelkar, our interviewee of the day. Photo courtesy: Anushka Kelkar

Anushka Kelkar would love to do a photo-series with rape survivors. “Putting a face to survivors would make the brutality in such cases more real,” says the photographer behind the browngirlgazin project. In this interview with Yashi Jain, Anushka speaks of women’s bodies, rape culture, and why survivors could be empowered by no longer being faceless.

In I Think, where we capture public opinion on the news reporting of rape and sexual violence from across India, Bangalore-based Sandhya Menon talks of the “clear class distinction” in the coverage of sexual violence.

The July 25 roundup of Note This: highlights from NewsTracker and more

Rachana Mudraboyina. Photo: TransVision

There is a lot that remains invisible about India’s transgender community, including the fact that journalists pay transgenders scant attention. Men and women have their champions in the news media, but, as Rachana Mudraboyina asks Manisha Koppala, what about people who don’t fit into these categories — where do their stories go?

In I Think, which captures public opinion on the news reporting of rape and sexual violence from across India, we feature Sadam Hussain, who points out how minorities and incidents outside metros seldom make news coverage. …

The July 25 roundup of Note This: the best of NewsTracker and more

Tasmin Kurien’s NewsTracker Original takes a close at the misogyny in the Malayalam film industry

That the news media sensationalises sexual violence is a criticism that broadcast journalist Padmaja Joshi can live with. Why? Because, as she tells Aakanksha Singh, but for the media attention, many rape victims would not get justice. Read the in-depth interview in which Joshi speaks about Kathua and the challenges of reporting rape cases.

The problem of gender discrimination runs deep, and extends to how we make and consume ‘entertainment’. In our NewsTracker Original on misogyny in the Malayalam film industry, Tasmin Kurien makes a case for why mindsets in Kerala must change.

And for our I Think series, which…

Manish Sidhu, skateboarder, Punjab

Photo: Ayush Rawat

I am not connected with the news. I’m not social at all and I see no reason to follow the news. Media is owned; it’s just a profiteering enterprise being run as a business. Shouldn’t news media be a non-profit entity, ideally‽

I think the problem of rape is as big as the country itself. Media just latches on to it when it happens in a metro city. Nirbhaya wasn’t the first and clearly she won’t be the last. …

Santlal Yadav, retired jawan, Sabour, Bihar

Photo: Anunaya Rajhans

I usually read Dainik Jagran and Prabhat Khabar or tune into All India Radio. Who has the time to watch television?

All rapes are wrong and must be reported. But because of the sheer number of cases and because they always happen to people we don’t know, it is hard to remember particulars of any case.

One case that stood out for me was when the local MLA was accused of misconduct. If elected representatives can do such things, then what can we expect of others?

The authorities are soft on crime. They have no appetite to punish the guilty…

Tanita Abraham, education strategist, Sonepat

Photo: Vivek Varughese

Reading how rape is reported has led me to believe that it is lopsided. There is undue attention on the survivor, her clothing, whereabouts, time of day etc — which makes it seem like the media is almost making an apology for why the rape happened.

I think the media has the potential to change the narrative of shame by focusing on the perpetrators.

There is something normative when it comes to rape reporting. These norms create a standard narrative of rape. For example, there is hardly anything about the perpetrator by way of background details.

I would want to…

Anunaya Rajhans

Meme Researcher | Critical Writing Teacher | Project Supervisor at MAAR NewsTracker

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