I Think: Reports on sexual assault should not be matter-of-fact

Rhea Narayan Kuthoore, philosophy student, Chennai

‘For an issue as violent as rape, I think it’s more effective when the reportage leverages emotion to create a larger impact.’ Photo courtesy: Risha Kuthoore

I get news from different sources, largely from my news apps on the phone. Whenever there is a notification from the BBC, the Times of India or the Hindu, I’ll give it a cursory glance. If I’m curious, I’ll read more.

I don’t read too many stories about rape and sexual violence — I’ll know about the big ones but not the ones that happen every day. My immediate reaction is disgust but the frequency of the incidents doesn’t leave me surprised anymore. It’s also because I’m not getting anything profoundly new from the news reports.

There aren’t any particular rape stories that stand out for me. For example, I know everyone was talking about the Kathua case, but I don’t think that’s any better or worse than any other rape — all are equally bad for me.

When it’s an issue as violent as rape, I think it’s more effective when the reportage leverages emotion to create a larger impact for the reader. They shouldn’t talk about it in a matter-of-fact manner and the tone shouldn’t be objective at all — they should use powerful and vivid imagery so these cases don’t become normalised in our heads.

Education can help children understand the concrete ways in which culture and society shape patriarchy. It can also help explain the nuances of sexism. Perhaps, for example, discussion-based classes could be held for young boys and girls together so that they are conversing about how gender is marked and how it affects each one of them. The idea of what it means to be provocative and what it means to provoke someone could be explored here, as could the theme of objectification of the female body. Because right now, there’s a mindset in place that needs to change.

This is one in a series of articles that NewsTracker published from 25 November to 10 December as part of the #16Days activism, aligned with the UN’s International Day for Ending Violence Against Women. This piece appeared on Day 15.