Supreme Court Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan has commented that the newspapers are irresponsible when it comes to reporting 'Rape'. In Mumbai, last week, he said that, ethically, the newspapers should not divulge any details pertaining to the victim. He also said that the newspapers are not revealing the name of the victim but are giving enough clues to the readers to know who the victim is.
The Chief Justice is right and there is every reason for him to comment because the newspaper he reads with great respect every morning (did) does it. The Hindu, the newspaper that is known for responsible reportage of incidents such as 'rape' in its edition on Saturday, 25th October, 2008, published a photograph of the victim allegedly raped in Kandhamal on August 25 this year. The nun covered her face with a veil. Very few people outside Orissa knew the name of the nun. The Hindu is largely circulated in the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and Kerala.
The Hindu and Deccan Chronicle published the photograph like ToI and The New Indian Express, but the two newspapers gave the name of the nun. Is this responsible Journalism?
The telugu newspapers too were irresponsible. Major newspapers including Eenadu and Andhrajyothi too gave the name of the nun.
Justice Balakrishnan is right. Newspapers that do not name the alleged rape victim, cover her face but parents or the relatives standing next to her are exposed. Television channels too do the same. The face of the victim is masked, her name not disclosed but the face, name, village and every other detail sufficient enough to identify the victim are revealed.
Lets be responsible. Lets be sensitive. Lets formulate dos and donts while reporting atrocities against women.