Even as a lawyer, it is really not possible to describe a crime like sexual assault. It is the most gruesome act which, though more is a crime of anger than attraction, should be dealt with very sensitively as possible.
The focus of the present post is not to give a legal perspective but to make us all think that are we really being sensitive and supportive towards the victim or just like the Peepli jokers with a cameramen and makeup staff, sensationalizing the act?
Peepli journalists’ recent coverage of rapes in Gurgaon, Haryana and the knee kerk reaction of the authorities is pathetic, shameful and borderline illegal so to speak.
After the recent incident of alleged gang-rape in Gurgaon, there were news stories like where the victim worked, her family background–married and has a kid–who she was traveling with etc etc. As if protecting identity of the victim never came to minds of authorities–apparently, it never did.
Compare this incident with the alleged assault on a foreigner studying in Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in 2009. Short of showing the photograph of the girl, nearly everything about her was in the press. That is another aspect that the case resulted in acquittal of the accused which was upheld by the Bombay High Court as well.
For media, a sexual assault is not just a news, it is THE news.
See how badly Peepli journalists presented the background of the victim, employee of the Gurgaon pub. From the timings of her job to the description of her job about the seating arrangements, arranging entries for guests in pub etc etc. What relevance it has to the assault?
So what if the victim’s predominant nature of activity was to make sure guests are seated comfortably? Does it amount to an invitation to sexual consent? It does not.
Interestingly, in 2002, Govt removed sub-section (4) to Section 155 of Indian Evidence Act which read as following:
“(4) when a man is prosecuted for rape or an attempt to ravish, it may be shown that the prosecutrix was of generally immoral character”.”
The intent of removing the provision was that Prosecution and Police will not be allowed to assassinate character of the complainant. It is another sad part that law used to allow such assassination till 2002. It is also another aspect that we see such character assassination as a matter of course in Peepli channels.
Now Gurgaon authorities have released an order that women should not be working post 8 pm. I am sure the Chief Minister (CM) of Haryana must have cogent reasons for such draconian action. We have not heard, as of now, a single statement from the Union Home Minister (HM), who is from the same party as the CM.
Fact of the matter is, for the police and Peepli media there is no sympathy for the victim but only hunger for masaala to gain TRPs.
Mr. Shekhar Kapoor during promotion of Bandit Queen said that he wants the audience to witness what exactly is sexual assault and how tormenting it is for the victim. Just that the media and police have given the sensitive aspect a go by for good it seems.