How our media, activists and police can play a part in reducing rapes
After my previous opinion piece about how we as a society are not exactly known for our maturity, one of the readers asked me to specifically post about our media, police and activists too. So here it goes.
Media: Our media and news channels in particular are running behind TRPs. After any event, you can see a ticker at the bottom or a brand new ad declaring the said channel as ‘No. 1’ with leading the TRP percentage and leading in viewership. However when it comes to incidents of rapes not one channel leads in sensitivity. In there blind race for TRPs, at worst they reveal the name of the victim or at best try to sensationalize the incident. A particular Hindi news channel is not exactly covering itself in glory by performing dramatic reenactments of these incidents. It did during the Nirbhaya Case of Delhi and the recent Disha Case of Hyderabad, even though by different anchors. However the modus operandi was same, send the female anchor to retrace the different events of that fateful night by going to the different locations, riding the same transport as the victims and even showing the same number of the perpetrators. Then there’s another channel which does ‘sting operation’ by making their female reporters stand late at night on deserted roads to prove that women are not safe. A sting operation is done to bring to light something which is hiding in plain sight, but this is not exactly some breaking news when we have rape incidents being reported daily and almost everybody agrees that women are not safe in public areas
Furthermore, our news channels start giving impetus to a particular type of story when they want to. For 15-20 days there will be a major push to similar stories but after that regular service is resumed. It is this trend which the media needs to be wary of. Why can’t they raise an issue as important and serious as rape 365 days 24×7? Why does a case like Nirbhaya or Disha wakes up the media from its slumber, only to report about crimes for a few days, make a campaign and then back to square one ? Why can’t every rape be reported on the same level? Why is the inequality in reporting standards and airtime allocation dependant on the potential to garner TRPs alone ? The quickly the news channels start fixing these issues the better it will be for them and their reputation.
Activists: If our Media is irresponsible in its reporting, our Activists are plain prejudiced in their reaction. An activist who first needs to know the religion, caste, ideology and political affiliation of victim and perpetrator or the location of incident and the party in power before giving the reaction or even protesting is not an activist but a paid propagandist who just furthers the cause of its masters. Sadly most of the professional and part-time activists in India belong to this category. If the public pressure towards a particular is too much to ignore then they will just pay lip service. If push comes to shove, they will organise the favourite activity of their; a candle march. How much a candle march has ever helped in any case in India can be a subject of a PhD which I’m sure nobody in JNU will be willing to persue.
A true activist instead of doing knee jerk reactions in form of a candle march should actually educate the society about how to tackle this evil. They can coordinate in organising self defence classes for females. They can also work with state education boards to try to educate the teen male adolescents about how to interact with the opposite sex and what to never do. Additionally they can organise camps among the poor uneducated people living in slums so that the males living there to make them know what will happen if they do something like this and to make females aware of what to do in the unfortunate event happens in their neighborhood. Lastly they should work with the media and investigation agencies in cases where the accused is a rich person to make sure he can’t misuse his influence to be acquitted.
Police: Let me take this opportunity to first thank the honest, dedicated police officers for their service to the nation. However not all of the police officers are doing their duty as they should, particularly in incidents of rape. We’ve seen cases where the disinterest of police officers coupled with shoddy investigation has resulted in accused being acquitted or the victim being harmed more. That’s not to say that the police doesn’t want to bring these perpetrators to book. But it’s also a fact that we have a shortage of cops and as a result they are over worked. Further, they have to deal with VIP Security, Internal Security, Murders, etc so rape cases are just another type of case for them. Adding the lack of modern forensic investigating tools completes the dismal picture.
Its for the government to tackle this problem. Not only should they increase the budget and appoint more personnel to the police force, they should also take care that the percentage of women officers particularly at the junior ranks is increased. The decision of government to have a women desk at every police station is a welcome step in that direction. I would even suggest to further have at least a woman officer in every patrolling vehicle. Additionally I think its time now to have a Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) which only deals with heinous crime like rapes, murders etc and leave the rest of the policing matters to regular police. Having a dedicated agency will not only help in honing the specialization of its officers but using modern technology to solve crimes with dedicated labs and personnel will also decrease the lead time in solving of cases. Special Courts can also be formed and special prosecutors can be appointed to prevent any interference from anyone in the government who can try to influence the case.
I’m personally against the encounters like the one done today by police in Hyderabad. The police should investigate, prosecute and convict the accused by the court to bring a sanctity to the whole process. If the police itself wouldn’t follow the law how will it make ordinary citizens follow it when the police itself has no trust left in it?
I hope these and many more steps which I’ve missed and you can suggest will help in if not eradicating but at least reducing the number of incidents of rapes spreading like a wildfire which if not tackled properly and in time can even burn our society.