On 27th May 2014 India was shaken with a sensational rape case where two sisters in the Badaun village of UP, India were allegedly gang-raped and subsequently murdered and hanged from a mango tree in the village. It was a horror story coming true for many. Indian media and feminist organizations were never late in picking up the Badaun story and making it so much viral that all international media projected it as a regular affair in India.
Indians were made to believe that UP was the rape capital in India, even though in terms of a number of reported rapes every year MP had been topping the list for years. But Indian media never bothered to check the Indian rape statistics vis’- a – vis’ the global statistics before shaming India. A CBI investigation later found that there was no rape in Badaun and the initial (so-called) eyewitnesses later turned hostile and admitted that they had lied as they wanted to take revenge against the accused.
Badaun – The Biased Reporting
Rape or other sexual crimes being very sensitive, reporting on this crime need to be dealt with even more seriously and in a more sensitive way. In all, these cases media need to show extreme restraint as any wrong projection can portray the nation badly. But Indian media behaves most irresponsibly and work only towards hijacking TRP from other media. That is why they never bother to check the authenticity of the eyewitness’ account or wait for the investigation report to be out. For instance immediately one day after the Badaun instance media reported it as rape and the headlines were all over all kinds of media.
Even though most of these news items might carry some verbiage like “some people alleged that there is a rape” but their headlines always say “Badaun Rape” in highlight, keeping an everlasting impression in the minds of their readers that the Badaun gang-rape has happened. This has become another reason for some women groups to demand toilets and women rights and safety and there were campaigns designed for the same. Hundreds wrote in favour of sighting a major safety issue (ignoring the environmental issue) and demanded one crore toilets to be set up only because there was one alleged rape in Badaun.
On the contrary, when the Badaun case turned out to be false Indian media didn’t bother to take the news in a big way and the coverage was very poor. Rather a theory was floated that the case was forcefully shut because the girls were from a lower caste. But nobody raised these issues when in the initial medical test the local doctor had confirmed rape by misconstruing the menstrual blood as blood oozing out of rape or forceful sex.
False Impression Never Goes Away
Any such report that is available today in international media still holds the elements of doubt in its readers’ mind leaving it open for discussion. Many get shocked when they hear that Badaun case was false and many still think this false news of Badaun is some kind of spoof by MRAs because Indian media had never highlighted the issue in a big way.
Such is the case in reporting other gender crimes like sexual harassment. The recent case in a Rohtak bus was exposed after the second video of the girls assaulting other men in a park came to light and MRAs raised the question whether the girls were serial offenders and attention seekers. One MRA freelance journalist went to the ground, met the eyewitnesses took their account and showed it to the world that the Rohtak girls were in fact lying. But India’s mainstream media whose first responsibility is to bring out the truth and report in a neutral manner failed to do this investigative journalism. Since the time Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) brought the news out no mainstream media was bothered to check the eyewitnesses account and reported one-sided stories floated by the girls.
Media has done great injustice not only to the Badaun boys by this biased reporting but by immediately convicting the two innocent boys, jeopardizing their career, their lives and shaming the entire nation Indian media once again put their own country at risk that the media of no other country will do. That is why we see that even in the countries like the USA or South Africa the number of rape cases is more and there are much more violent rape or sexual assault cases reported there, that news never makes it to the headlines in Indian media. Indians never get to know those cases and always their country is one rape capital in the whole world. Whereas Indian rape news makes a headline in global media and even the UN Secretary-General comments on Indian rapes and asks the government to safeguard its women even on a simple report of a case.
As the Rohtak case unfolded the girls’ have changed their version of the story but as more of their earlier crimes of assaulting men in public and extorting money from them came to media now the feminists are alleging that because they are from a lower caste they are being shamed like this. The same way it happened in Badaun. Anyone who saw any of the discussions that Rohtak sisters were brought in could clearly say that they were lying.
Haryana Govt. and State Commission for Women (NCW) has behaved in the most irresponsible manner in handling this situation. Immediately after the news broke out Haryana Govt. announced bravery award for the sisters and NCW has given them an award. NCW which is already a civil court and wanted a power to arrest the accused in any woman related crime has got its power to investigate any crime against women recently. The way NCW behaved in this case and the eagerness with which they have CERTIFIED the girls for their so-called bravery raises serious questions about them being a court because no court can ever certify a person as good. Even after long trials courts will at most acquit the person saying there is “not an iota of evidence against the accused” (as happened in the gang-rape case against Rahul Gandhi) and hence the accused are released. However, when in such incidents NCW shows knee-jerk reactions, show eagerness to give a certificate of bravery to the women that itself disqualifies it of being a court. I wonder how our Supreme Court still silent in this matter and didn’t pull up NCW for their behaviour. If NCW needs to remain as a court it needs to be answerable to our apex court else this is only a parallel system of justice that will raise the question on Supreme Court itself. It is important that the apex court clarifies this immediately and orders the govt. to cancel the court status for NCW.
There is another serious issue in NCW awarding the two girls. It clearly shows that NCW has upheld the girls in-spite of them being cruel to an elderly sick woman by denying her a seat. It raises a serious question about NCW being at all considerate to the cause of women in the country. It only shows that NCW is bothered about young girls who can create some drama for instant popularity and more importantly who are vote bank for a comparatively longer duration. It also creates an impression that when the same empowered young women grow older they will NOT be treated the same way in future and thus the sanctity of NCW comes under serious question. Unfortunately, no Indian media has raised these questions so far.
Govt. giving out bravery awards without any investigation or conclusion in the case is also bringing the govt role in question. This raises the question of whether the govt. is showing that it is against men of this country, that even when men are brutally beaten up in public by a woman they will still be held guilty. Putting the bravery award on hold is only minuscule of action that shows that women can play with our nation, our legal system, our minds any time and they can hold the entire country on ransom. By giving out awards to such criminal women who violate the laws of our govt. has only shown that it is open for abuse in the hands of women. In this case, at least we have some witnesses who could speak up for the boys but what happens when there is no eyewitness?
When the feminists have totally exposed before Indian people thanks to the eyewitnesses’ account immediately the Delhi’s Uber cab incident came into focus and the attention of our media and people was deliberately shifted to that case. Initial police investigations found that the cabbie was accused of a rape charge in 2011 and spent about seven months in jail for the alleged rape before being acquitted of the charge.
Even though the cabbie was acquitted of the earlier offence, Indian media still portrayed him as a serial offender and all media reported him as a rapist at least in their news heading. Within the news item though they might have covered this incident as “Alleged Rape” but the headlines portrayed him as the serial criminal. The electronic media too is flashing his being arrested earlier for rape more often than the fact that he was in fact acquitted of the crime by a competent court. Media in a way is trying to influence people’s minds by portraying him as a criminal even before the charges are proved. We all are taking part in that and creating short terms TRP benefits for the media and very long-term and deep-rooted wound in India’s national pride. India is projected to the world as a rape capital and women being unsafe here.
The media or street justice will never stop in India until we understand the underlying danger in it. Unless the citizens boycott such media that portrays one-sided biased news and unless the media is punished for their behaviour this situation is not going to change. But in all such cases if we read the media report very carefully we will probably find the term “alleged” somewhere but their titles always carry such news with confirmation and that creates an everlasting impression in our minds. We don’t get shocked when a man is beaten to death by the public in Bangalore for alleged harassment in public, it had already become the order of the day. We shiver in fear to even think what if the Bangalore girl was also an attention seeker like the Rohtak sisters and wanted to extort some money from the man.
When media trial and street trials become the order of the day when people are made to lose confidence in the law and order of the country then anarchy sets in. Hope our Supreme Court understands this very soon, as indirectly this is challenging the existence of our courts and legal system and when that happens the superiority of the judiciary comes in question. Unless our Supreme Court takes immediate action against those who take the law into their hands they will only lose credibility. This also shows that as a nation we have not learned any lesson from Badaun and we will continue to have such knee-jerk reaction and indiscriminate killing of men in future.