Media fact-check for Modi, rapist to hang on March 2, dog ‘rescues’ woman

The 4 February edition of Note This — our round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticised for a recent statement in which he said the death penalty for rape has given “visible results”. Photo: Narendramodiofficial/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The death penalty for rape hasn’t made India safer for women and the criminal justice system is still beset with delays and inefficiencies. Many media reports came to this conclusion last week as they fact-checked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claims at a large public event that the death penalty has had “visible results” in India. Modi has also been criticised for suggesting that the media is not doing enough to “instill fear” in rapists.

Editor’s pick

Harsh punishments such as the death penalty are “merely a band-aid for inflamed emotions”, writes NewsTracker’s Yashi Jain as she explains why we need to make far deeper changes to our society and legal system to effectively counter rape culture in India.

Across India: news since Thursday

Last week, Asian News International (ANI), a news agency, quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as saying that rape convicts in India are now “hanged within 3 days, 7 days, 11 days and a month”. A deluge of fact-check articles and opinion pieces have appeared in the media since.

The Quint adopted a tongue-in-cheek tone to dispute Modi’s claims that the media’s portrayal of sexual assault cases is misleading.

Several stories have focused on ANI’s mistranslation of Modi’s Hindi speech, clarifying that the PM meant that sentences are handed out with great speed rather than the actual hangings. Others, such as HuffPost India, have pointed out that even keeping this correction in mind, Modi’s claims regarding rape are not backed by “credible crime statistics” and that “advocating speedy trials… water down standards of due process set by the law for awarding the death penalty”. Firstpost says “speaking of rape as a function of capital punishment numbers is reductive” and “insensitive”, while the Quint breaks down why it is disingenuous to castigate the media, and also brings attention to the lack of recent data on sexual crimes.

Assault of minors

A Madhya Pradesh court has issued a “death warrant”, or the final order for execution, to schoolteacher Mahendra Singh Gond who was convicted for raping and grievously injuring a four-year-old girl in June 2018. Gond will be hanged on March 2 unless the Supreme Court stays the execution. This execution if it is carried out will be the first to take place under the new law prescribing the death penalty for the aggravated sexual assault of children.

The arrest and confession of a suspected serial child rapist in Delhi has received nationwide coverage. The Hindu this week published a profile of the suspect, Manish Chaddha — a departure from the norm in most sexual assault cases where biographical information about perpetrators is rarely provided in any detail.

Two cases of suspected gang-rape of minors have been reported in the national dailies. In Rohtak, a seven-year-old girl was abducted from a railway station and left “profusely bleeding” at the site of the crime; one out of four suspects has been arrested. In Bengal’s Murshidabad district, a 12-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped and killed while she was on her way to deliver lunch to her father.

In the nick of time

A stray dog who “saved” a woman in Bhopal, MP, from being sexually assaulted has made headlines. The dog, whom the woman fed regularly, was reportedly in her home when an intruder entered and tried to molest her. The dog “immediately launched himself on the attacker” , getting stabbed in the process, and scared him away.

In Khatushyamji, a man was caught by locals while he was in the process of raping a four-year-old girl. The man, a neighbour of the girl, had lured her away to a cremation ground to assault her, but family members and locals searching for her heard her cries. The victim is under treatment as is the offender, who was reportedly “severely beaten up by the crowd”.

Rape culture

In Delhi, a 22-year-old woman was attacked with acid for not withdrawing a rape case, reported NDTV. According to the police, she had been in a relationship with the accused at one point.

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal has sent a notice to the police for not taking appropriate action against five suspects in the alleged rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl. The police has also been asked to respond to allegations of harassing a supporter of the victim’s family.

MeToo

Many of the accusations in the #MeToo movement are “frivolous, trivial…some are bare-faced lies”, author Nayantara Sahgal has said in an interview in the Scroll. She also noted that “In a democracy, no citizen is guilty because someone said so” and that she will avoid literary festivals where there is a “blanket ban” on men named in #MeToo. A large portion of the interview text, rather strangely, comprises attempts by the interviewer to endorse #MeToo to Sahgal.

Writing in the Quint about sexual harassment in academia, Dipti Tamang, an assistant professor at Darjeeling Government College says “the situation is almost hopeless and miserable in smaller universities and institutions” and calls for more women to speak up.

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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