Anger at 9-year-old’s funeral, BJP’s ‘Freudian slip’, bishop chargesheet

The 9 April edition of Note This — our weekly round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

A man who was released after serving a sentence for child rape has confessed to sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl and dumping her corpse in a Mumbai drain. Image is representative. Photo: IraEm/Pixabay

The rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl in Mumbai has caused public outrage and received national media coverage due to the circumstances of the case. There is also much media anticipation that the chargesheet against rape-accused priest Franco Mulakkal will be filed this week.

Editor’s pick

In ‘The silence of men’, NewsTracker’s Anunaya Rajhans explores what people’s choice to remain anonymous or withhold comment reveals about the Indian media and the subject of sexual violence. The issue, he says, boils down to two things: “how people view news media, and how the news media talks about rape”.

Across India: news since last Tuesday

Thousands of people, many of them bearing placards asking for justice, attended the funeral of a 9-year-old girl whose body was found stuffed into the drain of a public toilet in Mumbai. The case triggered outrage when it came to light that the girl’s 35-year-old rapist and killer, Vadivel Devendra alias Gundappa, had been recently released from prison after a 2013 conviction for the rape of another 9-year-old girl in the same area, reported the Indian Express. He was reportedly released early for “good behaviour”. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday took “suo motu cognisance of a media report” on the case and issued notices to top police officials in the state for a detailed report. The suspect is under arrest as are some of his family members who threatened the police with violence.

Rape and politics

The BJP’s 2019 manifesto has been praised for mentioning women “37 times” in its 48 pages, but a typo in the document is causing the party some grief. Opposition parties have had a field day with what the Congress is calling a “Freudian slip” since the section on safety for women says that the party “made strict provisions for transferring the laws in order to commit crimes against women….” The Economic Times also pointed out that the manifesto “promised time-bound investigation and ‘trail’ for rape instead of ‘trial’…”

Kerala priest case

Franco Mulakkal, the former bishop of Jalandhar who has been accused of raping a nun multiple times, is expected to face charges today — nearly seven months after he was arrested by the Kerala police (he is currently out on bail). According to Mathrubhumi, “It is hinted that the charge sheet includes 80 pages along with 83 witness statements”. The case, which has been followed closely by the media, has polarised the Catholic church in Kerala. Several nuns who protested in support of the complainant have said they are “relieved and happy” that the case appears to be moving forward. According to the Tribune, the atmosphere is more sombre in Jalandhar Bishop House, where an “uneasy calm prevails” before the filing of the charges.

#MeToo

The workers’ union representing several women who complained about sexual harassment at All India Radio has said that no action has been taken in the matter despite the Minister for Women and Child Development calling for a probe five months ago. One complainant has said that she will fast unto death until the issue is addressed adequately, reported the Indian Express.

An IT professional has been arrested in Mumbai for “defaming” adman Sudarshan Banerjee by posting #MeToo accusations against him from fake accounts. The man has said that he acted on behalf of women friends who complained that they had been sexually harassed by Banerjee.

There has been plenty of social media outrage over the casting of actor Alok Nath — who was accused in the #MeToo movement of rape and sexual harassment — in De De Pyaar De, a major Bollywood production. According to Firstpost, the movie shows that “Bollywood continues to prioritise commerce over decency” while the Quint questioned “why” Nath was still getting “meaty” roles.

Rape culture

In Uttar Pradesh, a woman allegedly completed suicide after the man she had accused of raping her “on the pretext of marriage” refused to marry her. She was visiting the man in jail when she killed herself.

In Bangalore, a woman working at a pharmaceutical company has alleged that she was wrongfully terminated from her job after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against her supervisor, reported the Hindu.

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).

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