A year later

We started out with good intentions and grand plans but didn’t do too much work on this blog. I’ll now be trying to correct that. And just to get things going, here’s the link to some news that got me re-started really —
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/cityarticlelist/-2128932452.cms

In case the page refreshes, this was the text around midnight on January 25, 2012:
Gender ratio in Delhi not healthy: CM PTI | 5 hrs ago | Admitting that the skewed child sex ratio in Delhi was a matter of concern, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today said the government has initiated a range of welfare measures to improve the gender disparity.
Nine-yr-old girl ‘gang-raped’ in Cuttack TNN | 18 hrs ago | Yet another case of alleged rape has surfaced in the state, this time the victim is a nine-year-old girl from Bhadrak.
Kidnapped girl has miraculous escape  TNN | 56 min ago | An 11-year-old girl had a miraculous escape on Tuesday when she was kidnapped by two unidentified persons, who later abandoned her near railway tracks.

Three stories relating to women/girls on the landing page when you click on the ‘City’ tab on TOI’s homepage. Would that be something the internet editor chose to hightlight? Why? One relating to policy, one a serious crime and the third another crime, though somewhat odd. Do more people read about women? Did those stories just get the attention of the person whose job it is to chose the reports to highlight?

The Sheila Dixit story is a regular policy story, reported exactly as she must have spoken of it and butressed with facts and figures that can easily be found in the census report summary. It’s straight reportage and clearly written. But the comments from readers at the end are rather interesting. They touch on everything from the need for such welfare measures and lack of safety in Delhi to dowry harassment and divorce to abortion. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Gender-ratio-in-Delhi-not-healthy-matter-of-concern-Sheila-Dikshit/articleshow/11617041.cms)

The next link leads to the brutal gang rape of a child. It’s a very badly written story though the horror and gravity of the crime comes through. It refers to “another” child rape but provides no information on when or where the previous case was reported. For someone happening upon just this story it’s a bit puzzling. How many other similar cases were there? The report mentions that the police were informed, but was a case filed, an investigation begun? It quotes only a doctor, not the police. It’s a story full of holes but the comments run on and on. Some, as always, are rants and arguments. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/Nine-year-old-girl-gang-raped/articleshow/11610237.cms)

The third story is fairly clear though it is rather ambigious about why the child might have been abandoned. Is it a tale made up by the child, was she really abducted, we don’t know but it’s probably been written as well as a reporter on the beat could have with the  information s/he got. Not too many comments on this one, but a reference to sex trade. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/vadodara/Kidnapped-girl-has-miraculous-escape/articleshow/11619886.cms)

 What I found interesting about these stories is really the comments. Stories on women and girls — especially relating to violence — seem to get people riled up enough to take nasty cracks at each other, comment freely and randomly and even make some good points along the way. The nature of commenting on the internet is that you get a lot of strange as well as sensible stuff. (One could quite reasonably say that this whole post is a lot of pointless postulating, but that’s a whole other subject.) The good thing, I like to think, is there seems to be a great deal of interest on gender issues and inequality, and people have an opinion on it. Whether the interest leads to doing more research and reading, and whether the knowledge is accurate are completely different questions. Interest is a good starting point, don’t you think?

Postscript: Four hours after I’d first seen the page, done a whole lot of other reading, written this and returned to it, the top stories on that page were the same.

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