The crime of rape has many drivers, all of them unacceptable and in urgent need of deep societal reform. A less realised factor is the role of media reporting. We assume that media reporting raises public consciousness and ire, and ensures action against the perpetrators. This is often not the case. High pitched coverage, details of the attack, the inevitable conveying of the victim’s trauma, arouse deviant instincts and result in further copy cat assaults. News reports of procedures and trials also reveal inherent biases against women, and that rapists are rarely brought to book. This leads to a heightened sense of impunity. How can the media report on this too prevalent crime without inadvertently promoting it, and what protocols should it be following?
Sameera Khan is a Mumbai-based independent journalist, researcher and co-author of the critically acclaimed book, Why Loiter: Women & Risk on Mumbai Streets which examines women’s access to public space.
Vakasha Sachdev is Associate Editor (Legal) at The Quint where he reports on proceedings of courts across the country, and analyses and explains judgments, legislation and policy from a domestic and international legal perspective.
George Jose is Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology at NYU Abu Dhabi. He directed programmes in the field of arts and culture, and taught in architecture, design, and management institutes in India.