Media should not re-victimize the victims

Media should not re-victimize the victims

The article 228A of the Indian Penal Code declares it to be an offense to disclose the name(s) of anyone who is a victim of any offense committed under article 376,which deals with rape and its various forms. I don’t even require to mention the ambit of article 376.It is a ‘gift’ of our media that even children who would falter if asked about their Fundamental Rights or Duties – know about article 376.But that is another talk to have some other day. So, coming back to our question- it’s quite logical because we need to protect the identity of a victim in rape or molestation case in order to relieve her of the social stigma attached to it in our society. Hence the victim and their relatives are protected from the vagaries of insolent society. But that’s the case of victims under article 376. Apart from this, every day, thousands of people suffer from a similar problem in a quite different way; but nobody bothers for them. There are no constitutional safeguards against them. These ‘victims’ are not in a position to raise their voice against this malpractice, probably they are in a situation where they have plethora of other things to worry about. Could you guess the group of people I am referring to as ‘victims’ here? If you couldn’t, let me tell you that I am talking about the families of the people, who are gunned down or blown into pieces or mowed down by vehicles everyday.
Whenever any such incident is reported in the newspaper, the details of the incident are mentioned along with a photograph usually captioned ”The wailing relatives of the deceased”. What do our journalists and editors want to convey through this? Isn’t it an infringement on the right of the lady who lost her husband or the boy who lost his father? Well – it may not be a right constitutionally, for I am not very well versed in laws, but I know one thing for sure – it’s the moral duty of the editor, not to publish such images. What do they want to convey by publishing images of women, with broken churis, disheveled hair, the vermillion powder dislocated from its position and mouths wide open in loud lamentation for her beloved? I don’t get the point of it and I am clueless how the editors see the logic behind publishing it.
Had it been some sort of thing that made the news spicy or appealing to the general public, then it would be acceptable as a marketing practice. In that case,it would be justified because ‘everything is fair in love,war and the market’. But I don’t think any sensible person enjoys going through these images. So, it’s not even in the interest of the newspaper. It’s just a practice, or more specifically, a habit that has crept in with time if not dealt swiftly would soon take a malignant form. 
This was the case of the print media. Moving on to the electronic media, the situation is simply sordid. In most of the cases, it is for the first time in their life that the family members of the deceased find themselves before a cameraman and his camera knowing that the world is watching them. They are made to appear before the world in a condition, which is more like a trance, and narrate the dreadful story – intermitted by sobs. Isn’t this embarrassing for them?
The most inhumane part of this ordeal is yet to come. It’s when, in the middle of their appearances before the camera, a question is popped up, asking-”Kaisa Lag raha hai aapko?” (How do you feel?),and the person simply bursts into tears once more, this time with a loud wail. It was only once I found someone long ago, who was an exception to this. The case was that his son was mowed down by a tractor and a protest was going on for the same.The reporter requested the man to narrate the incident, which he obliged . But when the reporter asked the question that how he was feeling, the man simply said -” Just like you would feel if I kill your son ” and the camera went off instantly. The news reader suggested some connection problems at the venue and moved on to other news. What a reply! I clapped for the man. But, everyone cannot respond like that when placed in such a difficult situation. Usually people would love to deny appearance before the camera but they are in such a state when they simply don’t know what to do, for all the while, they are lost in the worries about the problems that the immediate future is going to unfold before them. Therefore, I think, it’s the duty of the reporter not to insist on such appearances.

The entire journalist community should take a ‘suo motto’ cognizance of the matter as there will be no one to appeal against this practice. It’s high time now that the editors woke from their slumber to put an end to this impudent malpractice.

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