‘Sensationalism’ in Pollachi, a 6-year-old’s last Holi, Rohtak rapists get death

The 26 March edition of Note This — our weekly round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

A dark Holi: A 6-year-old girl was lured away from neighbourhood celebrations in Hyderabad before being raped and killed by a 20-year-old man. Image is representative. Photo: Maxpixel (CC0)

The small town of Pollachi near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu has been in the spotlight for a couple of weeks now, with a sexual assault ‘racket’ putting the political establishment in an uncomfortable position and also raising questions about the consequences of media ‘sensationalism’.

Editor’s pick

In ‘What journalists want’, NewsTracker’s Ayush Rawat speaks to a number of mediapersons to discover what they hope that their reportage on sexual assault will achieve.

Across India: news since last Tuesday

The sexual assault, filming and extortion of several young women in Pollachi (here’s a useful explainer) by a gang of four men with alleged political connections has snowballed into what some media outlets are calling a major ‘scandal’. The media itself, however, has become a part of the controversy.

Last Tuesday, while disposing of the anticipatory bail plea of the editor of the bi-weekly magazine Nakheeran — which came under fire for airing footage of a sexual assault — the Madras High Court observed how it was disturbing that sexual violence was being simultaneously “sensationalised” by the media and “politicised” in the run-up to general elections. According to the Hindustan Times, a “political storm” is brewing over the “scandal”, while the Times of India rues how the case “broke Pollachi’s peace — and innocence”. Scroll, however, points out that this impression of “innocence” comes from the “segregated, silenced lives” that women have to endure.

In another case of group sexual assault, a woman in Meerut, UP, has said that she was gang-raped while admitted in the ICU of a nursing home, including by a doctor. According to the Indian Express, three out of four suspects have been arrested including a nurse who allegedly sedated the victim.

Assault of minors

In Hyderabad, a six-year-old girl who was playing Holi in her neighbourhood was reportedly “lured” by an “intoxicated” 20-year-old man with sweets and colours, and then raped and killed, reported the Hindu.

On March 14, a 12-year-old girl was raped and beheaded on her way to school in Sagar district, MP. Last week, the police arrested two of her brothers, as well as her uncle and aunt. Her family members had earlier claimed that a neighbour had targeted the child due to a property dispute.

Death penalty

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has confirmed the death penalty given to seven men by a Rohtak court for the 2015 gang-rape and murder of a 28-year-old woman. The court described the crime as a “Nirbhaya-like incident” that was characterised by a “tsunami of cruelty”.

Politics and rape

The Gauhati High Court has dismissed sexual assault charges against Union Minister Rajen Gohain, stating that there is no evidence and that the woman has retracted her allegations. Gohain has maintained that the accusations were part of a “political conspiracy” to “tarnish” his image. He has since been denied a BJP ticket to contest in the general elections.

The Group of Ministers (GoM) formed in the wake of #MeToo to examine the laws on sexual harassment has been put “on hold” because of the elections. It will not now be up to the next government to take up the issue of sexual harassment laws.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has suspended actor Radha Ravi for making sexist remarks about actress Nayanthara and for making off-colour “jokes” about the Pollachi case. He had said, “If you rape one girl at once, it is a small film. If you rape 40 people at once, like in Pollachi, it is a big film”.

Read more

This roundup is curated from the RSS feeds of more than 30 English news publications from across India.

See a fuller list of rape and sexual violence cases reported today, and earlier this week.

Use our case filter to read reports on specific cases: #MeToo, #KeralaPriest, #RapeOfMinors, #Muzaffarapur, #PoliticsOfRape (use the dropdown menu in column A).

Follow us

You can follow us on @maarnews for NewsTracker Originals and more. Or use the sign up link below to get Note This directly in your inbox!