Silences in journalism, rape threats after protests, MP ‘sex scandal’

The 31 December edition of Note This — our weekly round-up of media reports and opinions on sexual assault

Asavari Singh
Dec 31, 2019 · 5 min read
Feminist writer, publisher and Padma Shri awardee Urvashi Butalia believes that journalists are not trained adequately in reporting on sexual violence. Photo: Rohan Surti

“It is very important for journalists to unlearn a lot of what they have learnt,” says eminent feminist author Urvashi Butalia. In an in-depth interview with NewsTracker’s Sanya Chandra, Maanya Saran, Biplob K Das, and Yamini Krishnan, she also discusses the critical silences that punctuate the media “noise” around sexual violence.

Editor’s pick

Across India: News since last Tuesday

Image is representative. Photo: Dewang Gupta/Unsplash

The use of sexual violence, or the threat of it, during conflict situations is well-documented. According to a report in Firstpost, Muslims in Kanpur have alleged that policemen threatened to “rape their sisters and wives” in a “crackdown” in certain neighbourhoods after protests broke out against India’s new citizenship law. There have been several reports of police brutality targeting Muslims in Uttar Pradesh.

‘Media, politics, sex’ in MP

An in-depth Hindustan Times report titled ‘Untangling a scandal that rocked Madhya Pradesh’ explores the “complicated web of property, media, politics, bureaucracy and sex” that put the city of Indore “in the spotlight” recently. The so-called “sex scandal” part of the story involves allegations of human trafficking and rape against Jitendra Soni, the owner of a tabloid that recently published reports of a “honey trap case” .

Transgender Bill

A ‘queer pride’ flag. Image is representative. Photo: Sharon McCutheon/Unsplash

Protests across the country greeted the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 (now, an Act) because of its vague provisions and lack of protections for transgender people. A detailed report in Frontline outlines why so many people from the community are upset, including the prescription of “only six months’ to two years’ punishment for perpetrators of sexual violence on transpersons as against seven years’ punishment in the case of sexual violence on cisgender women, thereby legislating a secondary class of citizenship.”

Rape culture

Several recent news reports have highlighted that even after reporting sexual assault to the police, many survivors/victims continue to remain in a vulnerable position.

In Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, a 17-year-old girl and her parents attempted to kill themselves by consuming poison outside a police station. They wrote in their note that they were doing so because the police had failed to take appropriate action after the teenager was gang-raped. The police have said that the girl and her family were attempting to ‘sensationalise’ the case.

In Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, a teenage girl was stabbed to death by a man who was out on bail two months after he was jailed for stalking and molesting her. According to the Quint, which has been running a campaign to make stalking a non-bailable complaint, the ease of obtaining bail makes survivors vulnerable to “acid attacks, rape, and even murder”.

How the law fails #MeToo cases

In ‘#MeToo cases require a more sensitive approach’, advocate Gautam Bhatia writes in the Hindustan Times that two recent court orders “reveal that the judicial process is too blunt an instrument to address the causes that have triggered the #MeToo movement, and the specific form that it has taken.”

Death penalty

The Gujarat High Court has upheld the death penalty for a 22-year-old man who was convicted of sexually assaulting and killing a three-year-old girl in October.

A POCSO court in Tamil Nadu has sentenced a 34-year-old man to death for the March rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl in Coimbatore. The child’s mother, however, has said that forensic evidence indicates that two men committed the crime but only one was arrested, reported the Times of India.

Reading list:The Temple Bar Woman’

In her novel The Temple Bar Woman, author Sujata Parashar attempts to portray the anger of a rape victim who decides to seek “revenge” rather than go through the judicial process. In an interview with the Hindu, Parashar says she was inspired by the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case to write a story of “female fortitude and gumption”. The (highly contentious and problematic) theme of extra-judicial “justice” has recently been the subject of much debate in India after policemen is Hyderabad shot dead four rape suspects during an “encounter”. Last week, a 24-year-old woman in Tamil Nadu was also in the news for killing a man who she said had been raping and blackmailing her for several years.

Read more

See the full list of rape and sexual violence cases reported this week and earlier on our web tool, NewsTracker Data. Use our search function or select one of our boards (such as #MeToo, #KeralaPriest, or #PoliticsofRape) to read reports on specific cases and/or themes.

Follow us

NewsTracker

A conversation on the news coverage of rape and sexual…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store