Author Archives: zubedah

On reporting rape

On Dec 4, a partially visually impaired nine-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a former neighbour. Hindustan Times carried a detailed report about how it happened, the filing of the police complaint and the subsequent arrest of the neighbour —

In the Times of India report, a single column story, the headline was: Blind girl ‘raped’  —

The report goes on to give the same details as the HT story. Why then has the word rape in the headline been put in single quotes? There seems to be no doubt about the case, at least in the way it was reported: the victim identified the perpetrator, he was arrested and a case registered. TOI doesn’t make a practice of this — on Dec 6, they carried a story of a Rwandan woman raped with the headline: Rwandan woman gang-raped near DU.

The use of single quotes here, feels like the report is calling into question the veracity of the crime, and perhaps making it seem like less than it was.

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Cop shot dead trying to protect daughter

On December 5, Hindustan Times carried a report about a Punjabi sub-inspector of police who was shot dead by three men when he confronted them about harassing his daughter. The report in the paper — talks about how no help arrived despite his daughter, who also sustained injuries, as well as locals raising an alarm and calling the police.

In a commendable series of stories following the incident, HT followed this up the next day, with a front page report on the arrest of three men, including an Akali Dal general secretary. The report also mentioned the suspension of the local station house officer —

On the same day, the paper carried an editorial, ‘No country for women’ ( which talks about how ‘eve-teasing’ is a euphemism for public sexual harassment, and is often considered a ‘soft crime’ and brushed under the carpet.

The editorial ties in very well with another report on the same day (, that said the local police had not taken any action on the sexual harassment complaint the girl had lodged with them. Not just that, they had not turned up despite repeated calls by frantic locals, giving the men a chance to come back again with a rifle and shoot the police officer in the chest. The report quotes locals as well as the girl and her mother. The last quote by the daughter, where she says she wants to shoot her father’s killer however, could have been avoided.

The online version of the first report though (, consistently uses the word ‘tease’ rather than ‘harass’ (she was stalked and several lewd comments were passed over the course of several days), which detracts from the serious nature of the crime.

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Naming the school

In a report of a class VII student who was sexually abused by his classmates, Hindustan Times has named the school — one step closer to identifying the victim —

I’m wondering why, since the paper is normally careful not to name victim or school. TOI’s report (  merely says it is a private school in Rohtak. Was it because this happened to be a popular, reputed school?

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On headlines

Hindustan Times recently commissioned a survey, following the spate of sexual assault cases in Haryana. A report on the survey — which questioned men on their views on marriage, abuse, abortion etc — with quotes from experts, has this headline: Beauty and the beast.

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Not only is it insensitive, its irreverence in this context detracts from what the report is trying to say — that national crime statistics reveal an increasing number of crimes against women.

The report too, could have attempted to explain why experts felt this was happening and what women in distress could do.

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Police vs family and activists

The case of the rape of a four-year-old girl in Delhi and the subsequent involvement of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party has been widely reported, largely because party workers were allegedly beaten up by police.

It is interesting to note how Hindustan Times, Delhi has reported this —

The basic facts are similar in all the reports — the child was raped by a 50-year-old neighbour and the family was attempting to register a case of rape.

HT in its story on Dec 2, has titled its report: Drama at police over ‘rape’ case. No other report — in TOI, The Hindu or Indian Express has called the rape into question. The entire report is based on what the police has said. No member of the family has been spoken to, nor have the members of the party been quoted. The police have been quoted as saying that since a medical examination did not confirm rape, a case of molestation had been registered but that the family was insisting on a rape case. The report mentions ‘scores’ of activists protesting at the police station, but no mention of why. The last few lines mention ‘disciplinary proceedings’ against three police officers for ‘apparent inefficiency’ — again a quote by a police officer. Again, no details as to why or what happened.

TOI in its report ( has said the family said the neighbour was caught red-handed, and that the police refused to file an FIR. It quoted AAP activists saying they had been roughed up, and also quoted them as saying three police officers had been suspended. It however, did not quote the police. Giving the family’s version makes it more clear what the issue was all about, and why the protest had been staged in the first place. HT’s report makes it seem like the police had done their jobs, but the family was just being unreasonable.

The Hindu, in its report (, makes it clear there are two conflicting versions. It gives the family’s version through quotes from AAP activists and then quotes the police giving their version. More balanced, yet puzzling, as the police’s quote says the family made a statement, but did not mention rape or molestation. What statement did they make then?

Interestingly, HT in a related web version of the story, has an agency report — — which quotes only the activists and lists tweets by Kejriwal.

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A govt intitiative: a national helpline for women soon

In the Hindustan Times on Nov, 23:

This is being mooted as one stop relief-cum counselling helpline for women across the country. It sounds good on paper, but the child helpline (a similar model) in Chennai has had to contend with problems of inadequate, untrained staff. And also, will this be linked to the police in case of a real-time emergency — that’s a concern.

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In the Hindustan Times: Man jailed for deceit

A man is jailed for living with a woman for 9 years, while she believed they were married, and then forcing her out of the house, saying she wasn’t his wife:

The man was jailed under Section 493 of IPC , which prescribes upto 10 years in jail for: “Cohabitation caused by a man deceitfully inducing a belief of lawful marriage”

The question the Supreme Court faced was: does this action attract penal provisions? The court decided it did.


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