This is how a journalist made millions in 45 days

Documenting Rape - NY Times
The NY Times coverage on this project

Call it Indian rape story and get huge international viewership including publication in media like NY Times and donation worth millions INR. To add more viewers claim that you or your close relative was raped in childhood and see the money multiplying. This is how feminists are creating hue and cry globally on Indian rape.

A few months ago photo journalist Smita Sharma generated a funding of INR 2.5 Million in the name of documenting stories of Indian rape victims. Her project named as Chronicle of Courage says that–

“This project is about the rape survivors and their lives after rape. The idea is to give voice to the women who are treated as living corpses, shamed and ostracized for life”.

This was published in NY Times to give it more edge. This NY Times report claimed that she was molested by a professor in her school but when she spoke she was condemned. Ironically her relative died recently out of similar incident as she claimed. It was projected that this kind of victim shaming is predominant in India.

What she claimed in this report that she wanted to give these victims a voice. Let’s look at some of the stories that she had covered –

  1. Hemanti – Hemanti’s 20 year old daughter was allegedly gangraped and murdered and then paraded naked by some people in a village. The same report also states that the accused were in jail. This makes us think that when legal action was already taken then what was the point in making it a project in the name of “giving voice to the victims” as if the victim was not getting justice.
  2. Sonia and Prajuna (both 14) – In this story too we find that a case was filed and the legal process was going on. Even though the story claimed that some rogues tried to intimidate the victims but still didn’t show that society was trying to shame the victims as claimed by the original project. There are criminal provisions to file complaints against such people who tried to intimidate them so the original premise that as a society we have predominant victim bashing is completely made up by the author.
  3. Beena (15) – Was allegedly raped repeatedly by a relative. Even though in this case too, the story says that accused was in jail we don’t get to know how the victim was ostracized and shamed for life. The few threats given by the accused family as mentioned in the story does not prove that rape victims in India are ostracized and do not have justice.
  4. Pinky (12) – In this case too, we find that the legal process started by police and do not understand how this was a case to show injustice to the victim.

Other than these stories there are other stories in all of which it is mentioned that some legal action was in force. Even though there were additions of stories of threats by the accused or some goons but these goons cannot represent a society like India. Indian society does not approve of such threats or give them legal sanction.

Surprisingly, this project was not only published by NY Times as a project of photo journalism but it could attract 421 investors and could raise USD 37, 326 or INR 2.5 million within 45 days.

What is alarming in this case was she had an association with a project named “Rape in India Project”. Clearly the aim of such projects are only to create and blow up rape stories and project India as a rape capital. The name itself shows that there are some feminists that are running projects to show only rape cases and show there is lifelong victims shaming or ostracizing. Whereas when we carefully look into such stories we find that in all cases legal process was underway and so the assumption that Indian rape victims don’t get justice or shamed for life by the society is clearly wrong.

Reading the NY Times report we find that she had at times stayed with the victims for days, shared life with them and could not click any photo because she could not concentrate. Her project showcases one or two photographs of each victim and she could not even click one photo sounds so absurd.

The NY Times blog also says that Smita had discovered that “mostly the village girls are raped when they go out in night”. However, in none of the cases she presented in her project shows the same. So how did she find this out is a great mystery. Clearly the author tried to make emotional fools out of his readers.

The NY Times article ended with a mention that recently gang rapes have increased in India and it claimed that Ms. Sharma found in her research that in most cases police or society tried to blame the victim. A feminist myth created and nurtured carefully. That is how we see how a Bangalore feminist could claim of being slut shamed by an auto driver recently until her story was proved fake.

It is thus not a surprise that in the name of giving rape survivors a voice she had collected funds and ensured her free travel across India. There already exists a legal framework to help such victims. India definitely does not need photographers to collect such stories and these photographers can’t be the parallel legal system. If we consider this project as social justice project by a warrior for social justice we find it irrelevant as the necessary legal recourse is already in place.

Unfortunately in India we have many Indians like Ms. Sharma who wants to do business and make some quick money in the name of rape. The 50-100 word stories published on her website has no sanctity and value in the courts of law. This project had only one aim – raising money for funding her own travel and shaming Indian society and Indian legal system. This is particularly shameful when India has many stringent laws against rape and the false and frivolous cases are not punished. This project getting support from 421 people from around the globe in a matter of just 45 days show how people are interested to hear more such rape stories. It is a kind of sadistic pleasure that these people get. What was the point of her telling that she was molested by a school professor in her adolescent days, other than gaining sympathy and trying to raise more finds?

These kinds of projects get worldwide visibility and contribute to making India a rape capital. These create a false perceptions that in India rape survivors do not get justice and create a false sense of emergency in the minds of women. All of these damage for someone’s personal benefit.

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