#MeToo claim triggers media gag, Muzaffarpur charges, Bilkis Bano case

The 2 April edition of Note This — our weekly round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

Bangalore politician Tejasvi Surya, a rising star in the BJP, obtained a media gag order in the wake of #MeToo allegations against him. Image is representative. Artwork/photo: Charlie Day/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Last week, the Congress party accused Tejasvi Surya, the BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Bangalore South, of “abusing” a woman based on a social media post made by her. The news was picked up by the national media, but on Saturday Surya obtained a court order barring the press from publishing “defamatory” statements about him. Ironically, however, the gag order has intensified media attention on the 28-year-old politician.

Editor’s pick

The journalists who covered sexual assault survivor Anitha’s story made her feel as if they were doing her a “favour” she says. In an in-depth interview with NewsTracker’s Tasmin Kurien, Anitha (name changed) speaks about her case and how the media handled — and sometimes mishandled — it.

Across India: news since last Tuesday

Early last week, a woman in Bangalore posted on Twitter that she she could prove that BJP Lok Sabha candidate Tejasvi Surya was an “abuser and woman beater”. The Karnataka Congress was quick to invoke the #MeToo movement and accused Surya of being “another MJ Akbar in the making”. However, within a couple of days, the woman said she did not wish to pursue the matter and her Twitter account vanished, leading to some media speculation about her being “threatened for her revelations”.

All such speculation has now been put to rest after Surya got a temporary court injunction barring the media (including social media) from publishing anything “defamatory” about him, said a News18 report. The court order has ignited a controversy, with an Indian Express editorial calling it an expression of “disregard for constitutional values and the sanctity of elections” and the Scroll criticising how the court “buys, wholesale, Surya’s pathetic ‘why now’ defence against the allegations”.

Case updates

A Delhi court on Saturday framed charges against 21 accused in the Muzaffarpur shelter home case, in which more than 30 minor girls were systematically sexually abused. Incidentally, earlier in the week, Patna-based journalist Nivedita Jha claimed in a plea to the Supreme Court that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe was “hogwash” as it excluded “crucial leads”. She also said that the charges were not “grave” enough and and that “real perpetrators” were shielded.

The Tamil Nadu government has ordered the transfer of three policemen for the mishandling of the Pollachi case, in which a gang of four men allegedly preyed on several women. Their modus operandi included sexually assaulting, robbing and blackmailing women they groomed on social media. According to a detailed report in Frontline, “Tamil Nadu has not witnessed a scandal of this magnitude involving sex, perversion and politics”.

The Supreme Court has asked the Gujarat government to “complete disciplinary action” against police officials who were convicted by the Bombay High Court in the Bilkis Bano gang-rape case that unfolded during the 2002 communal riots. Bano, who was five months pregnant at the time of the rape, has refused monetary compensation from the Gujarat government.

Notorious rapist and serial killer Mohan Kumar (nicknamed Cyanide Mohan by the press when it came to light he murdered 20 women by lacing their “anti-pregnancy pills” with cyanide) has been sentenced to life in prison in two cases of rape and murder. He has been convicted in nine of the 20 cases against him so far.

Assault of minors

In ‘Why an 8-month-old rape survivor’s parents stare at a CCTV all day’, the Quint revisits in intimate detail a harrowing case of child sexual assault (and its aftermath) that took place in Delhi last year.

A 32-year-old interior decorator from Coimbatore has been arrested for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl. According to the Hindu, he repeatedly sexually assaulted the girl in a two-room house that he shared with his grandmother.

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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