Category Archives: Good

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 — http://paper.hindustantimes.com/epaper/viewer.aspx 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 — http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Punjab/Day-after-cop-s-murder-Akali-leader-held-and-officer-suspended/Article1-969055.aspx

On the same day, the paper carried an editorial, ‘No country for women’ (http://www.hindustantimes.com/editorial-views-on/Edits/No-country-for-women/Article1-969423.aspx) 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 (http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/NorthIndia/Punjab-police-ignored-ASI-daughter-s-Dec-1-complaint/Article1-969437.aspx), 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 (http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Punjab/Cop-shot-dead-trying-to-protect-daughter-from-molesters/Article1-968859.aspx), 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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Eve-teasing before the courts

On December 2, 2012, The Times of India carried a report “Harassed on bus? Drive to police station: SC” on its Page 1 (with the rest of the story featuring guidelines to deal with “eve-teasing” as laid down by the court on Pg 10). The prominent display of the article is commendable. The coverage could have been improved with a little more context on the issue of “eve-teasing”, perhaps. Also the fact that the provisions of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill pending at Parliament not being enough to curb the problem, is something that could have done with elaboration. What does that Bill have to do with the harassment that happens at bus stands and at parks. Also, while “eve-teasing” is the phrase used by the Bench, I think that the media should have a problem with accepting that phrase and when quoting someone who uses the phrase should consider putting it in quotes.

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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 — http://www.hindustantimes.com/IndiaSectionPage/Chunk-HT-UI-HomePage-TopStories/Drama-at-police-post-over-rape-case/Article1-967032.aspx

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 (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Arvind-Kejriwals-party-activists-allegedly-thrashed-by-police-in-Delhi/articleshow/17445170.cms) 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 (http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kejriwal-supporters-take-on-police-for-not-registering-rape-case/article4154352.ece), 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 — http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/Chunk-HT-UI-HomePage-TopStories/Police-thrash-Arvind-Kejriwal-s-supporters-over-minor-s-rape-FIR/Article1-967032.aspx — which quotes only the activists and lists tweets by Kejriwal.

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Stalkers and Acid Attacks

Wednesday’s ToI (November 28) has a report on “Techie blinded in acid attack after turning down stalker“. The report is sensitively presented (though perhaps the hospital picture could have been avoided) and details the victim’s side (through her family) of what happened. The last paragraph points out that a complaint had been made against the accused in the past, but that the police let him off with a warning. A box along with the story has a quote from women’s rights groups with some basic statistics of crimes against women. ToI followed up the story the next day (Nov 29), analysing the legal and cultural aspects to stalking and acid attacks (“Stop stalkers in their tracks”, “Portrayal of women in films fuels violence” and “Activists renew demand for harsher law”). Interestingly, it looks beyond the act of an acid attack itself and enlarges the debate to cover the  more pervasive phenomenon of stalking. This goes beyond the limited way of looking at street (and other) harassment prevalent in society.

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Dharmapuri and Cuddalore

Reports on violence against women have been few and far between in TNIE this week. However two stories caught my eye for the apparently female-centric view they take of caste violence. (TNIE has also dedicated two full pages to stories of inter-caste marriage this week). The first piece appeared on Pg 2 of the paper on Sunday, November 25 and is titled “We are as good as walking corpses”. Though a report on a panel meet constituted by the Women’s Coalition for Change in Chennai, the display given to the story puts the focus on the way Dalit women are affected by caste-based violence. Unfortunately the report does not go into too many specifics of how the violence affected the women — by the second column the narrative shifts back to the male testimonies. The second report appeared on Wednesday (November 28) on Pg 5 of TNIE and is titled “8 Dalit houses Burnt in Caste Violence”. In this case the violence against the Dalit community was triggered by the alleged harassment of a ‘caste’ hindu girl by Dalit men. In this case, the two out of the three Dalit villagers quoted in the report are women and provide a female point of view to the incident. (Contrast this to  ToI’s report on the same incident, that appeared on the same day, “Dalit houses torched in Cuddalore”. The report sticks to the official version of events and though it includes a picture of women affected, does not convey the horror of the violence.)

On Thursday (Nov 29), TNIE follows up on the Cuddalore incident with a report titled “Cuddalore tangled in caste mesh”.  Though mostly an interview with a member of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, it raises some interesting points about the forms untouchability takes on as well as how it affects Dalit girls and women. “A Dalit woman aboard the bus is usually teased… Dalit girls are even afraid of going to schools or colleges by bus.”

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Reporting Sexual Abuse

The Chennai editions of both The Times of India (“Woman alleges sexual abuse by step-dad, uncle”)and The New Indian Express (“Sex Abuse Victim Seeks CoP’s Help”)on November 24, 2012 carry reports on on a victim of sexual abuse seeking help from the City Police Commissioner. The reports are very similar, both quote the victim and both change the victim’s name, ostensibly to protect her identity.  The sensitivity in reporting the crime is commendable, however, one thing struck me. For one, English newspaper reports often change the name of victims of sexual abuse, but rarely change the names of the alleged abuser, family members, area they hail from, school name, etc. When one takes all the facts available, finding the victim’s real identity is child’s play. As a journalist I understand than the more details one adds to the story, the more authentic and credible the report, but one wonders where we should draw the line. For instance, in the reports of this crime, both newspapers change the victim’s name, but they mention the name of her foster parents, where they live and who her alleged abusers are.

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