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The Delhi gang rape urged us, as a nation, to stand up against violence. But was that enough? We must stand up for every act of violence across the nation.
Trigger alert: This post contains descriptions of violence that could be disturbing for some readers.
It was for the very first time that people were on the streets protesting against a heinous crime. The outcry was seen as a symbol of oneness and sisterhood after many years of independence.
It certainly matters when resistance against Violence Against Women (VAW) in India manifests as protests, objections and complaints. It then pressurizes the government to act, and compels the judicial system of the country to pass certain ordinances regarding rape laws.
Media, the fourth estate of democracy did a commendable job in the Delhi gang rape case by raising certain issues based on the VAW happening in India. Media played an educative role by sensitizing people about the case, women’s rights and safety, security issues, laws and the role of police, that were the top-most priorities then. Women’s issues in India started getting coverage in newspaper columns and prime-time shows on television news channels, besides being discussed on social networking sites.
Moreover, a kind of outburst of emotion was visible in the society when street protests and candlelight marches took place. Was it the media, who was responsible for this outpouring amongst the people, or was it a general response to an inhuman action perpetrated on the girl?
Media played a very event-centric role in the Delhi gang rape case, as there were rapes taking place in India even before this. However, there were two elements that certainly caused the heavy reportage; firstly, the brutality that was involved in the case and secondly, the reactions that emerged on the streets of Delhi, the national capital city of India, which is now also known as the crime capital.
Today, we have questions all around regarding women’s safety in Delhi, and India is considered a country where women are marginalized to a great extent.
Let us now take the example of the case in Rohtak, a place near Haryana, where a differently-abled Nepali girl was murdered after being gang raped. The media did not devote much coverage to this case as compared to the coverage given to the Delhi gang rape case. The Rohtak-case was as much or more brutal than the Delhi gang rape as the girl was murdered after the rape and certain elements like stones, blades and condoms were found in her private parts. In one of his statements, the examining doctor mentioned that he had never seen such a horrific rape case in his 30-year-long career.
Again here, the media remained event-centric. While this news was unleashed on the social media and people were raising questions around the scanty coverage, the media was giving a lot of time and attention to the Delhi elections (Kejriwal vs. Kiran Bedi). Politics, of course, rules the media and it has to be that way as we, the people of India, need to know how the administration of our country works. But, the Rohtak-case was important, and we need the media to be able to bring about changes in our society.
During the coverage of the Delhi gang rape case, a two-and-a-half year old girl was raped in the Halol rape case. Her parents also demanded equal attention for this case as was given to the Delhi gang rape by the media, society and police. Secondly, a girl was raped twice, first in a moving vehicle, and then at a residential area in Meerut, near Delhi, which merely received one small single column on the middle page of an English daily, and that was all. There were many such VAW stories that remained unseen during the very phase of the Delhi gang rape.
Why is Delhi always considered the most important city? Why does the media only concentrate on Delhi? Don’t we desire positive changes across the country?
With the Delhi gang rape case, women have started raising their voices against such issues of violence and demanding justice for themselves. People have started taking VAW seriously. This case sensitized the police force of our country and they now treat the victims with more respect than before. However, VAW is still happening in the country. Therefore, do we need such media coverage, which ignites fire in the hearts of the people only on a temporary basis? Certainly not.
We need the media to highlight and give equal coverage and attention to every act that violates women. We are fighting against VAW, not just in Delhi, but in the entire society.
Conceptual image via Shutterstock
Nalanda Tambe is a freelance journalist, post-graduate in communication studies and author of the
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