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I Think: Men are not taught to see women as human beings

Sunanda Ramaswamy, content writer, Mumbai

Photo courtesy: Sunanda Ramaswamy

I get my news mostly from the media organisations I follow, like the Hindu, the Wire, Economic and Political Weekly, Vice — which I realise have become more sensational! — and from social media. I also subscribed to Caravan magazine, which is kind of ‘slow news’. It’s hard to juggle work and follow up on all the news, so I go on social media to quickly catch up and know what’s happening in real time.

Maybe because of the kind of news outlets that I have subscribed to, I think sexual violence is not being covered as much as it should be. For domestic violence, in particular, the statistics are pretty shocking, which makes it clear that these issues are not given as much attention as they should be. There’s a greater news focus on politics and moral policing issues.

Most recently, I remember reading about the rape of a child. My honest emotional reaction to it was to push it away…

I expect a few things — one is to see more reporting and the other is to see the focus shift from the victim to the perpetrator. The focus currently is always on the victim! There are conversations about what the woman should fear for herself, rather than anger over what the perpetrator has done. We also need less details on what the woman was doing or what she was wearing and more about the incident. The news media should also have a follow up on the legal process of what happened to the culprit. Often the coverage drops off before we get to that point.

I think we are missing rape and sexual violence reports on the LGBTQ+ community and they also matter. The media tends to sensationalises the community rather than giving them the respect they deserve.

The government and society are both responsible for how things are. The government because of what they make their agenda — I don’t think they give priority to any women’s issue now, except triple talaq and that’s a religious matter — and society for how it does not teach men to see women as human beings with an identity. .

My message to journalists would be to focus on the culprit and to talk a lot more about how rape survivors get past what happened to them. Another message would be to make sure you are taking care of yourself, since covering stories like this affect our mental health.

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A conversation on the news coverage of rape and sexual violence in India. A MAAR initiative

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