10 years for Scarlett’s killer, a Saudi trip, Nirbhaya case and Delhi politics
The 23 July edition of Note This — our weekly round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault
The sexual assault and death in Goa of 15-year-old British tourist Scarlett Keeling made headlines in India and the UK in 2008. Eleven years later, the case is back in the news after beach shack worker Samson D’Souza was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court. Another widely covered story last week was that of a policewoman’s trip from Kerala to Saudi Arabia to arrest a child-rape suspect.
The media focuses excessively on the death penalty while largely ignoring the subject of reformative justice. This also comes in the way of more “solutions-oriented reportage”, argues NewsTracker’s Pranati Narayan Visweswaran in her piece ‘Reforming the reportage on rape’.
Across India: news since last Tuesday
Eleven years after teenager Scarlett Keeling was found dead on a Goa beach, a bartender at a seafront shack was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexual assault and culpable homicide. He had earlier been acquitted by a lower court, in what was described by the Bombay High Court in Goa as a “miscarriage of justice”.
There have been several news stories since last week about various aspects of the case, including how “a pair of orange slippers” led to D’Souza’s conviction, the “hero” lawyer who helped Keeling’s mother in her fight for justice, and the “false bravado” of the killer.
Another high-profile case that was back in the news last week was that of the 1996 sexual assault and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo. The Delhi Sentence Review Board on Friday turned down the release plea of her killer Santosh Singh. Like Keeling’s killer, he had been acquitted by a lower court in 1999, but then found guilty and sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court in 2006 (later commuted to life in prison by the Supreme Court).
A high-profile arrest
Kerala police commissioner Merin Joseph has been celebrated in the media for travelling to Saudi Arabia to arrest and extradite a man who was accused of raping his 13-year-old niece in 2017 (the victim died by suicide months later).
In an interview with India Today, Joseph said, “The message had to be loud and clear… I felt it was my responsibility to do something about it. Because even though there is a lot of hype around such cases, people forget and move on and that is not fair to the victim…”
In ‘Toe nails missing, arm bruised, gangraped Dalit woman asks: Why would I make up case, risk threat?’ the Indian Express speaks to a survivor who says she was subjected to custodial rape by several policemen in Rajasthan.
In ‘A year in POCSO court: How is the 8-month-old rape survivor doing?’ the Quint continues to follow the travails of an underprivileged family whose now two-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by a relative.
Politics and rape
The death of three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been followed by an outpouring of articles about her career, including how the Delhi gang-rape of 2012 proved to be the reason why she chose to remain in politics despite earlier intending to quit for health reasons.
In Orissa, the Opposition has demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik because of an increase in the number of reported rape cases, particularly those involving minors.
In ‘The Muzaffarnagar whitewash: Like in murder, accused got away in rape, rioting cases too’, the Indian Express describes “glaring gaps in prosecution” in cases dating to the 2013 communal riots in Muzaffarpur, Uttar Pradesh, noting that “all acquittals are in cases involving attacks on Muslims”.
In Punjab, hoardings encouraging people to vote featured an image of Mukesh Singh, one of the men convicted in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case.The chief electoral officer of the state has now been issued a notice by the Delhi Commission for Women.
This roundup is curated from the RSS feeds of more than 30 English news publications from across India.
See the full list of rape and sexual violence cases reported this week and earlier on our web tool, NewsTracker Data. Use our search function or select one of our boards (such as #MeToo, #KeralaPriest, or #PoliticsofRape) to read reports on specific cases and/or themes.
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