News & Events

Panel moots change on rape reportage

“Most women who have gone down as rape victims — whether it is Bhanvari Devi or Maya Tyagi — have been from poorer sections of society, from rural areas and the working class, who haven’t had the luxury of hiding their names,” said Laxmi Murthy, associate editor at the “Himal Southasian.”

She was speaking at a panel discussion on “Sexual violence and the Media: What Must Change?” organized by the Media Action Against Rape (MAAR) project along with the Department of Communications at St Joseph’s College Autonomous on November 29. Murthy said there was an element of class, caste and community to who can choose to reveal their name and who does not. Ammu Joseph, the moderator of the panel discussion, shared her own views on the topic, saying the media often violates people’s right to privacy and confidentiality. Joseph also addressed issues like revealing the name of the accused.

Dr Jagadeesh Narayana Reddy, a forensic science professor and medico-legal consultant, mentioned the recent state of violation of privacy and confidentiality of sexual violence seen in media. He also talked of how journalists have been found to file reports without understanding the medical or legal processes.

Sandhya Menon, who now works as an independent journalist, spoke about the lack of diversity in a newsroom and its impact on what gets reported and what doesn’t. Uma, the founder of Jeeva — an organisation for the transgender community, talked about silence of the media on violence against the transgender community as well as harassment they face at police stations. The panellists also discussed topics like the lack of sensitivity and sensationalising of news by media as well as within news organisations, and then fielded some questions.