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Minor thrashed for not resisting rape by father exposes the limits of news

Kishwar Desai
Kishwar DesaiMar 05, 2016 | 12:00

Minor thrashed for not resisting rape by father exposes the limits of news

Don't you think news channels based in Delhi give the capital far too much importance where news is concerned? Everything that happens here is blown out of proportion, but what we forget is that when we move away into the neighbouring states, or into villages - all the sound and fury seems to become meaningless. And the fact is that often some local issue is far more important for social change, than any event in the TV studios of India.

And yet, like everything else, news is largely homogenised and fed to us. The same anchors who accuse politicians of being overbearing can be accused of being unnervingly similar to them. All channels will almost invariably cover the same top stories in hot competition, each convinced ( or persistently convincing us) that they are the ones with the breaking news.

Yet it is a matter of concern that even important news coming from the states is now reduced to a lowly space. And international news is rarely considered at all. If one were to only watch some of the prime time news bulletins beaming out of Delhi, it is difficult to imagine that anything even occurs outside the capital. It is astonishing that even the Hillary Clinton/ Donald Trump face off barely gets a minute.

But in this prime time race those stories which require to be highlighted, given much more than a minute are tragically left unexplored.

The pathetic story of the 14-year-old girl who was whipped because her father had raped her, fell into that category. The news came from Maharashtra, with visuals because thanks to smart phones most people can, even if they don't do anything to stop it, at least record the atrocity.

What could that poor girl have done to protect herself? Very little information was shared with us about her, even though she was beaten at the behest of the panchayat. This Taliban style of punishment is becoming common in areas where patriarchy still exists and rule of law is completely missing. The local police is often nowhere to be seen, and very rarely the case registered.

One shudders to think what would have happened with the young girl after that pubic humiliation. She has already been traumatised and abused by her own father, which makes her a pariah in the community. She has nowhere to escape, as she now bears a stigma.

The police arrived after the incident, two days later, and while the girl is said to have received medical treatment, what about her psychological trauma? What about her life, as she is pregnant as well?

The way the story was covered, it was obvious that this young woman would disappear completely - nameless, because there are far too many important political issues we must worry about.

Yet this is precisely the kind of case the media and more importantly, the National Commission for Women, should take up. And for this, one wishes the media would move away from the capital and cover cases like this more thoroughly, so that their reportage could lead to genuine social reform.

One hopes that perhaps on March 8, the prime minister might take the opportunity to revamp the National Commission for Women, and make it into a more actively vigilant body with investigative and judicial powers. Whilst it is a good gesture that the voices of women parliamentarians will be heard on Women's Day - we can only hope that the voice of that young girl is not crushed forever.

Last updated: March 05, 2016 | 12:05
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