How media can do more for #MeToo, 20 named in teen’s assault, anti-rape gadgets

The 6 December edition of Note This — our round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

#MeToo and #TimesUp have taken up many column inches, but now it is time to talk about #HerToo — the women in India who don’t have the privilege or social power to speak up. Photo: Marc Nozell (CC By 2.0)

The #MeToo movement has grabbed headlines in India since late September and has been named as the “second most influential Twitter moment” of 2018, but how many ‘success stories’ will it really see in this country? In ‘Let’s get real about #MeToo India’ we explore what journalists can — quite easily — do to make the movement have a greater impact, even for women who don’t know their way around a hashtag.

In I Think, where we capture public opinion on the news reporting of sexual violence in India, Bangalore-based filmmaker Sandeep P S points out that news reports make it easy to picture the victim, but not the rapist, and that most stories add nothing to the information given in the headline. Tanvi Mehta, who studies in Sonepat, Haryana, also says that perpetrators need to be fleshed out in the news, and that sexual violence is often misdiagnosed by the media as “a problem of safety, instead of one of ideology”.

NewsTracker is publishing a series of articles, from 25 November to 10 December,as part of the #16Days activism, aligned with the UN’s International Day for Ending Violence against Women.

Editor’s pick

The media’s choice of terms can reveal cultural biases and problematic attitudes towards gender-based violence, says NewsTracker’s Saumya Agarwal . Combing through 16 issues of a Hindi daily, she analyses why there’s a preference for euphemisms or English words to describe sexual violence instead of the correct Hindi terms.

Across India: news since Monday

A case that has disturbing echoes of the Chennai sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl by 17 men has emerged in Parassinikkadavu, Kerala. A 16-year-old girl has told the police that as many as 20 men sexually assaulted her at various locations and then used a video of her to try and extort money from her brother. According to the Deccan Chronicle, 13 people have been taken into police custody, including a Democratic Youth Federation of India (DFYI) leader and the girl’s father. According to some reports, the survivor has told the police that she was sexually assaulted by her father two years ago. It is unclear whether he participated in the gang-rape.

A similar case that has received less coverage in comparison is alleged repeated gang-rape of a 17-year-old girl in Andhra Pradesh by seven persons, including two former armymen.

Assault of minors

A 50-year-old schoolteacher in Bhimtal, Uttarakhand, has been arrested after he was accused of molesting a nine-year-old girl for several months at a government primary school. The police have said that the teacher is believed to have molested other girls at the same school, as well as at another one where he had worked previously.

In Jharkhand, a 15-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by three men who intercepted her when she was returning from the market. Passersby heard her cry for help and managed to restrain two of the three assailants. The third man is still absconding.

Rape culture

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government over the “police personnel’s apathy and sheer negligence” in the case of a woman who was molested by two men but turned away by the police, after which her assailants set her on fire. The NHRC noted that “timely action” by the police would have prevented the second attack.

India does not recognise marital rape as a crime, but that’s what a man in Kolkata has been booked for after his wife complained that he forced himself on her. The Times of India quoted women’s rights activists who said that “the real test” would be the police chargesheet and that the woman “might have to pay heavily for her brave act” in terms of ostracism by her family.

In Nagpur, a superintendent of police who headed the anti-corruption bureau has been booked for sexually harassing a woman constable over a period of time. He allegedly stalked and harassed her over social media and reportedly threatened to “take action” against her for not submitting to his advances.

Crime and punishment

A fast-track curt in Nuh, Haryana, took just 22 days to sentence a man to three years in prison for the sexual assault and attempted abduction of a 13-year-old girl. The Hindu quoted the complainant’s lawyer, who said that speedy trials in sexual assault cases would act as a deterrent.

A district sessions court in Gurugram, Haryana, has sentenced a juvenile to the “maximum sentence” of 20 years in prison for the 2016 rape of a 6-year-old girl. The court tried him as an adult for the “heinous” nature of the crime, reported the Times of India in a detailed report on the crime and the juvenile justice system.

Tech ‘solutions’

The tech industry’s answer to #MeToo is a chatbot called ‘Shakti’, which claims to help women fight against workplace harassment by guiding them on what constitutes sexual harassment and what to do if they experience it. The bot can be accessed by sending a Facebook message to the MeTooIndia page.

Other recent innovations for women include the government of India’s ‘Shout’ feature in the ‘112 India’ mobile app, which is connected to the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS), and safety keychains equipped with “panic buttons” for minor girls in rural Maharashtra.

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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