I am disgusted by the way Nepali media has been reporting rape incidents: these crimes are reported/published as if some brave souls did some heroic deeds; as if the victims were not humiliated and disrespected enough already; as if the incidents will somehow create awareness in our society and bring people together. Readers are in shock & horror already just by reading the title. The media does not do any good by magnifying the story.
Here’s what they have been reporting of these incidents, almost every time they happen:
- where & when the victim was raped
- how the victim was raped
- how many people raped her
- the names, ages, and general attributes of the rapists
- if other rape incidents have happened within that day/week
You may say that by reporting these incidents, the media is just doing its job. And to a point, I agree. But I vehemently disagree on how they do it. I mean, why in the hell would anyone describe rape? – including how the girl was ‘caught’ and dragged to a certain secluded place; in what manner four or five boys overpowered one helpless girl. What is the logic behind providing these grueling, unnecessary details? Is it really necessary to say something like ‘4 boys took turns …’. Rape is rape, period. Doesn’t matter if it was 1 person or 10 people who violated her. Stop making it sound like if it was a scene from a snuff movie. It was not. It was a cruel, inhumane criminal act.
I think providing detailed characteristics of the rapists and the incidents ‘inspires’ others who see themselves as similar as the criminals, and therefore feel as if they too can indulge in the same activity if their ‘models’ of similar demographics were able to do it. And this is terribly bad… almost to the level where the media is encouraging for this repulsive act.
Also, what about the emotional/psychological bearings on the victims? I say victims because of 1) how our society reacts to rape incidents – as if the lives of these innocent girls/women are now over because she got raped & 2) the media portrays the rape incidents – one helpless girl is overpowered by ‘brave’ rapists. The way our media tells the story, and the way our society perceives it are both condemnable. It is difficult for the victims to walk back into the society, and move on with their lives. Many have committed suicides to relieve themselves of the mental agony they have to go through, thanks to both the media & the society.
I am not saying these incidents should not be reported at all. I do believe in media rights (freedom of speech and such). However, I also believe that sensitive things like these, especially in fragile society like ours, must be taken seriously. If and when the media report these incidents just for the sake of fulfilling their reporting obligation (or to fill their pages; to get ahead in the publishing race with competitors… who really knows!), and do more harm than good, I say we need to take a stance on where to limit media rights. Selling these types of stories doesn’t do anyone any good.
It is time we become responsible in a country where most others in power are not. We need to be careful that these stories do not further downgrade our ethical responsibility.