The gruesome rape and murder of a 26-year old veterinary surgeon at Shamshabad on the outskirts of Hyderabad has shaken the entire civil society across the length and breadth of the nation, drawing protests and condolences from various sections.
After having faced criticism for their callousness in dealing with the case initially, the Cyberabad police quickly jumped into action and arrested the accused within 24 hours. It was a commendable job.
But what was shocking was the way the mainstream as well as social media covered the whole incident.
Though the media persons also followed up the case meticulously and seriously, what they forgot was the basics in reporting such rape and murder incidents: they are not supposed to disclose the identity and details of the rape and murder victim.
According to a Supreme Court judgement delivered last year, the media should not disclose the identity of victims of rape and sexual assault to "arouse public opinion and sentiment" as these issues need to be dealt with sensitively.
A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta said the name and identity of victims of rape and sexual assault, including those who had died, cannot be disclosed "even in a remote manner".
“If a campaign has to be started to protect the rights of the victim and mobilise public opinion it can be done so without disclosing her identity,” the apex court said.
But look at the way the Shamshabad rape and murder story was covered by the media. They have been using her photograph, disclosing her name, details of her family and her job profile without any inhibitions, caring a damn for the Supreme Court judgement.
Just to sensationalise the incident, the media, irrespective of whether it was the electronic media or print media or the social media, have been liberally using the victim’s details much to the agony of her family.
Only a few sections of media, particularly the national media, refrained from using her name and that of her family. Some national websites used a pseudonym to indicate the victim’s name.
What is worse, even our poitical leaders – right from Congress president Rahul Gandhi to Telangana IT minister K T Rama Rao to Union minister G Kishan Reddy – everybody mentioned the name of rape and murder victim in their condolence messages over twitter.
This is really disgusting. It is time the courts take up the matter seriously and send a strong message to our politicians as well as media!