“On the morning of December 17, 2012, reports began to filter into Delhi’s newsrooms of a rape that had taken place in the city. Police officers, the main source of information for these types of stories, told journalists that a student in her 20s and her male companion had been attacked by a group of men inside a moving bus before being thrown from the vehicle. The girl was said to have been gang raped.” (emphasis added)
Writes Joanna Jolly, South Asia editor of BBC and former Harvard Joan Shorenstein Fellow in her research paper titled “Rape Culture in India: The Role of the English-Language Press”.
Joanna has been doing a research on sensationalizing of Indian rape by English Language media and found premier Indian media like Times of India and India Today has written a lot of imaginary stories related to the December 2012 Delhi gangrape.
So the initial police information of gangrape in a moving bus gradually given a gory picture by media. Per her research, for the editor of Times of India, three facts stood out when the reports of this rape first came to Times house (comments in braces added)–
- The girl was a student (young in ‘20s, so we know why media is behind proving young women as saints)
- She had been to an upmarket mall (shows independence) and
- She went to watch an English Language Film – “Life of Pie” (shows she was educated)
Jo found that India’s English Language newspapers thrive because of ever growing English speaking population and details out how media chooses to select rape cases in the first place.
After talking to different editors and journalists Joanna found that the Delhi Physiotherapy student’s case had three important parameters to be selected as a trigger event –
- She was perceived to be from the right class (which was not true but media perceived like that because she went to see an English Language film to an upmarket Delhi mall)
- She was perceived to be blameless for the crime, and
- She was raped by the strangers
Joanna further detailed out how media selects rape cases with a concept known as PLU or ‘People Like Us”. India’s English language papers are predominant with upper class educated masses and they chose cases where the victims and attackers could be related to the press workers or the readers. The reason Dec, 2012 case fit in there was initially media thought she was a medical student so media thought she was from upper / middle class family (she was actually a physiotherapy student), she was from well to do family (actually she belonged to a lower middle class family) and she had a modern social life (because she went to see an English movie in an upmarket mall).
Media later did find out that she didn’t belong to the PLU category but by that time the story was unstoppable. In fact, in her interview with Manoj Mitta former TOI editor, Manoj referred to Nirbhaya as PLT (People Like Them). The category that does not get much coverage from English Language media in India.
Also to note, that it is same English language press in India that decides on what should be reported and what not. Hartosh Singh Bal, editor of Caravan told her the same. So it is imperative for the English Language media to be responsible. However, the important factor as evident from Jo’s research that worked in favour of the story was “Stranger Rape”. Joanna describes this as following –
“One of the key reasons this case caught the public imagination was because she was raped by strangers. Her attack confirms the universally popular, horror-story narrative that the biggest danger for a woman comes from leaving her home and social circle and entering a world of unknown men. This narrative persists in India, despite National Crime Record Bureau figures that consistently show that around 90 percent of rapes are committed by perpetrators known to the victim, such as partners, family members, neighbors and work colleagues.” (name of victim removed from the narrative)
If we recall the facts after Dec 2012, Delhi gangrape it was English language media (both print and electronic media) showed Indian cities and particularly Delhi as unsafe for women. Any comment made to women were shown as there harassment and potential threat. One English media channel ran a campaign where the female reporter were going to places and showing on camera how women were being harassed that no one understood anything about but still the craze of India’s Damini made them believe the paid media lies. So it was English language media that had to continuously sustain the terror to fuel the news.
Coupled with this was coverage from international media that showed India as rape capital of the world based on stories created by global press. Joanna found that the sensational aspects of the case like gang rape, sodomizing by six men, attack by iron rod or pulling out intestine got more coverage to sensationalize the case. Joanna said – “In some cases journalists took information from leaked police reports, and used these as the basis for highly imaginative reporting.”
In this respect she mentioned this India Today report that was imaginative from the perspective of one of the accused –
“The high point of his life was when he thrust his tightly clenched right fist into the womb of the bruised and battered 23-year-old on the night of December 16. Nothing beat the excitement he felt when he heard her muzzled screams, saw her writhe in extreme pain and watched the blood spurting from her young body.” –
Clearly this was purely imaginative and without any basis. Here the India Today journalist just written another porn story based on imagination that he was sure to have well taken by his readers without raising the following pertinent questions –
- How can one insert one fist in a young woman’s vagina? Is it physically possible?
- How did the journalist know about the feeling of the accused? Or
- When media also reported about inserting iron rod and then fist, how was the victim still surviving?
- Why so much emphasis on her being “23 year old” or being “young”?
As Manoj Mitta told Joanna – “The story was inherently sensational and the coverage was driven by the conviction that people were very curious to know about it and there was competition with other newspapers,”
So in a competition to sell more papers Indian English newspapers created more porn stories. No wonder why TOI or India Today banked heavily on her being young and tinkering their readers with the thought of a young woman’s body, which in a way was another rape of the victim by so called feminist media who were out there to save her dignity.
Former Tehelka editor Revati Laul explained these porn stories by media like this – “All our reporting has become more tabloid across the board. So we’ve become voyeurs who are like T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men – with heads full of straw,”
So it is the media and especifically English language media and the so called elite class is creating these voyeurs through their reporting.
What is surprising is the fact the Dec 16, Delhi victim’s close relatives and family members were also against publishing these gory details by media. In an interview with The Indian Express via phone they expressed the feeling as mentioned in Joanna’s research – “they thought their daughter might live to witness it”
This feeling expressed by the physiotherapy student’s family members raise another question – Whether the attack was really so serious and gory (inserting iron rod / fist, pulling out intestines etc.) that she could survive the attack? Already questions arise because immediately after their rescues the girl gave statement to police. How could someone who was found in extremely battered condition and was in a vegetative state give her statement to police?
A research by Daniel Drache and Jennifer Velagic of York University on reporting of December 2012 Delhi gangrape by English language Indian newspapers found that reporting of the crime was as outcome of lust rather than force.
So Dec 2012 gangrape has generated certain keywords in crime reporting industry. These are catchphrsaes as mentioned in Jo’s paper. Words like “Juvenile”, “Nirbhaya”, “Damini”, “Gang rape” started to be used increasingly and it was also found that their searches have increased too.
Joanna also spoke about India’s patriarchy and demanded that even worthless and most ignorant men get more value because of India’s patriarchy. I am not sure how did she get this comment and would like to know more on this with examples. I am sure if she is holding such a prestigious BBC post and a fellow from a coveted institute, she would be able to give some examples.
The most vicious and worrisome discovery in Joanna’s study was the Times of India campaign to lower the age of criminal responsibility. She mentioned that TOI created and run a campaign that the “Juvenile” in Nirbhaya case was most criminal. Smriti Singh who was following the story as legal reporter for The Times observed –
“Suddenly out of the blue, one report came in one newspaper which said the police had claimed the juvenile was the most brutal of the accused…. So it was a gospel truth. No one questioned it, how it came about, whether the police had said it or not, whether it was the reporter’s figment of their imagination.”
– Smriti Singh, legal reporter The Times
From Joanna Jolly’s research paper on Dec 2012, Delhi gangrape
This was same the observation of Indian MRAs as well. Media has created many stories out of the blue but when Indian MRAs tried to tell the same as false they were viciously attacked by everyone in all forums. Only the MRAs with strongest conviction to save the future generation and juveniles could survive the constant threat of murder, battering and abuses by feminists. Many MRAs like me have lost their friends, supports but stood taller in the times of emergency that has later taken away right to peaceful existence from our juveniles with amendments to JJ Act.
Because TOI had an agenda to show that Indian juveniles (only boys) have become cruel they did not publicize the news that the Juvenile in Nirbhaya case was actually NOT most cruel. Avanti Singh, a TOI reporter told Joanna about the hardships she had faced for publishing the news that the juvenile was NOT most cruel because TOI management had their agenda and did not want to publish the same. Later they published it with a question mark diluting the news.
Ex Times of India editor Manoj Mitta, who wanted to correct some of those stories published by TOI without verifying the facts was also gagged. As mentioned in Joanna’s paper, Manoj was told by editors – “we have taken an editorial stand on the subject. We can’t afford to confuse our readers”.
This is the reason when JJ Act amendment was passed in 2015, Times of India celebrated that as their victory with the news – “Now, 16-18-yr-olds won’t get off lightly for serious crimes.”
How TOI celebrated after their campaign of lies that Juvenile was most criminal
So, it is evident that salacious and baseless stories that can be categorized only as porn stories published by leading Indian media like Times of India and India Today have shaped India’s future. Leslee Udwin was another such criminal who created a scripted (read this) documentary. She paid Mukesh to say certain things and filmed that in the name of exposing the “rape culture” in India. The movie was named India’s Daughter to give it a perspective that daughters in India are looked down upon and has no security. Leslee paid Mukesh Rs. 20,000 and it was evident from the video that he was speaking from a script. Many words used by him, were not supposed to be known by an illiterate person like him and are used by feminists to describe India’s patriarchy and mindset of Indian men. That is the way BBC created another salacious porn around Dec 2012, Delhi gang rape.
So what happens when people trust media blindly without knowing these insider information? They get rewarded like the amendment of JJ ACT that now makes a 16 year old boy a rapist even when a 30 year old woman forces herself upon him. That is the future of our boys who will now be easily termed as rapists thanks to the baseless porn stories created by English language elite Indian media.
Joanna Jolly’s complete research can be found by clicking the image below –