I Think: We need more advocacy from the Indian media

Judith Anthony, teacher, Washington D.C

Photo credit: Leah Weis

I am from Malaysia, but my family is of Indian origin. My grandparents immigrated from India many years ago and I identify with two cultures, my Indian traditions and my Malaysian nationality. I am now in Washington D.C; I came here for graduate studies a year ago. I am now going to start teaching high school chemistry this upcoming school year.

I would say that I am a news person. I subscribe to an email that gives me 10 news articles daily. Other than that, I read and watch content on Aljazeera whenever I can as I think they do a good job of reporting global affairs.

Most of the news that I read about India is from the south as my grandmother is from Chennai. A lot of our family members there also keep us updated through WhatsApp. Quite often the news is about local politics and elections. When they share national news, we hear about rape and sexual harassment; this is probably why I feel that I have to be very careful as a woman when I visit, especially in North India.

It seems to me that the only cases about rape that are reported in Indian news are the really brutal ones. I feel any kind of rape is terrible, so topics such as marital rape should also be reported. The last incident I read about involved the daughter of the shepherd in Jammu &Kashmir. I cried when I read that news. It broke my heart to know that they went after her just because her parents were minorities.

I think the Indian media needs to take up the role of advocacy and increase the coverage of incidents in the countryside. That is what I would do if I was a journalist there. The media no longer should have a neutral stance on such matters. They have the responsibility to create awareness about the rights people have and the laws that are in place that women can make use of. Additionally, educated people from the urban areas, NGOs and media companies need to work together to create centres where victims will feel safe to report incidents and get help immediately.

Sitting here in Washington D.C, I do feel very privileged. My family has always supported me and believed that women should be educated. Right now, as a teacher in the U.S, I have the responsibility to create awareness about the realities in other countries amongst my students. There is a very strong feminist movement here, but a lot of people don’t realize what’s happening in Asian countries. I have seen in a lot of ‘my body my choice’ slogans in the protests by white, middle-class women. That does not display the whole picture concerning problems that women have across the spectrum. The movement is definitely segregated by class and race and I feel the media here needs to focus on people of colour and women abroad.