March 13, 2008

life in journalism: shameful reportage of the Goa rape case by DNA newspaper

All the Indian media has been covering the shameful incident of a rape of a British girl in Goa recently and how that girl's mother is trying to seek justice in a state where the police and politicians are more mafia-like then probably the mafia itself. Read about it here, here, here, here and here.

But I have noticed that at least one newspaper has completely lost is sense of values in reporting on the issue. I refer to DNA newspaper. Read this story on front page of DNAs' Bombay edition today. The second statement in the opening para states "But the 'home' they will be returning to is far from the idyll she would have us believe."

So what if the Scarlett family is staying in caravans? How does that matter in the rape case? Staying in caravan is not a crime and neither are those staying in caravans criminals. It is like saying all slum dwellers in urban India live in ramshackle homes so they have loose values and are criminals. The editors at DNA have become anti-democratic in their writings of late if one goes by their stance on the Goa rape case. I wonder if the DNA editors have carefully read the constitution of India or any other democratic country for that matter? Does it say that people not living in cement-and-brick fancy apartments be treated as having loose character? I am ashamed to see the abuse of journalism by DNA.

Fiona MacKeown left her daughter alone for a few days. So what? Does that give Indians a right to rape all daughters whose mothers leave them alone. How many journalists in the urban offices of DNA newspaper are young women journalists who are staying far away from their families. Does that mean if, God forbid, they are sexually abused in the city, their mothers won't have the right to seek justice?

In my journalistic career, many of my female colleagues have been single girls living alone in Bombay away from their families who stay in other cities or towns. Some of these collegaues are rebellious and are working here alone against the wishes of their mothers and fathers. Does that make them easy objects for sexual offenders? The DNA editors should take a poll of all their female reporters to find out.

Even if Fiona (the mother) was on drugs, as some newsreports suggest, on the day her daughter was raped, her rights for justice don't evaporate. Don't affluent Indians taken fancy designer drugs themselves at most parties? Does that mean that if their loved ones get sexually abused when they are in their drug stupor they don't have a right to seek justice?

Come to your senses, DNA. I have not very often seen such extreme form of distorted reportage from any English Bombay newspaper in the last three decades since I started reading newspapers here in Bombay (I am 38 years now).

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