I Think: The conversation on rape is taking place in an echo chamber

Sourya Reddy, founder of Bastion Media LLP, Delhi

‘It is extremely important to bring regional newspapers on board and have a coordinated attempt to create change with them.’ Photo courtesy: The Edict, Ashoka University

I read the news every couple of hours. The most information I get is from the online space and newspapers. That would largely be the Hindu, the Indian Express, the Times of India and Economic Times.

My reaction to reports on sexual violence depends on the reportage itself. Something that is directly quoting a victim is much harsher than an article which says ‘this incident happened’ and ‘now this is happening [in the case]’. Stories about child abuse and paedophilia, where a young child has been raped by an older man, are what shock me the most. In terms of the manner of reportage, I prefer reading articles that take a particular case and relate it to a series of events happening or to an existing narrative — even though I can’t think of an example off the top of my head right now.

I think information coming from the relatives of the victim or the victim herself, must be included in the reporting of the event. This must be done in a way, however, that doesn’t put the person in a piteous state… to attract sympathy and make it a ‘pity read’.

It’s also important, no matter how grotesque the crime, to hear the rapist’s side and publish that as well. In a way, the manner in which the crime is reported is dependent on the victims themselves, because a majority of the information is given by them.

The conversation about rape culture is largely dominated by the elite, English-speaking circles. There is no point in having only English newspapers talk about it. It is extremely important to bring regional newspapers and news teams on board and have a coordinated attempt to create change with them. Their contribution and opinion must be included to make a difference. Otherwise, the English media is just creating an echo chamber for itself.

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 9.