The plague of rape culture in India is not going to eradicate anytime soon.
Besides the obvious reasons one can give e.g. the imbalanced male to female ratio, education levels, misogyny & patriarchy, Media esp. newspapers are playing a unique role in reporting selective cases in insensitive manner as a device to increase sales add
India reports on an average of 6 rape cases every day and, if get lucky, may be 3 of them get covered by leading news papers on the 4th of 5th page. What is troubling in the ones reported is the content and graphics perpetuate victimisation. A case where there is a no masala (spice) of gruesomeness, a case that does not involve a cultured middle class or somehow not political in nature will be hard to shine in the eyes of editors.
Thankfully, for the ones reported there are News Broadcast Standards under law to not show any photographs of the victim, but that does not stop the media to capitalise the sensational sell of the news by the graphic representative image of the reported cases besides the horrifying novelistic style reporting language. In almost all representative images the female victim is depicted as this fragile scared individual, either sitting in a corner, with her head down between her legs, or horrified face with a hand on her mouth either of hers or of the perpetrator’s, or a screaming women lying or sitting on the floor of a dark dungeon black room.
To add more drama to the graphics, thereis red blood & the half cut shadows of the perpetrator and a red hand. With a final touch the girl depicted in the graphics has to be lean and beautiful, sometimes a bindi on her head. Then in some cases her saree turns into a torned Indian flag being pulled by a hand.
As Joanna Jolly mentions in her paper titled “Rape Culture in India:The Role of the English-Language Press” (https://shorensteincenter.org/rape-culture-india-english-language-press/); The Indian News editors seek reaction with words like brutality, juvenile or gang rape as trigger words to consider it as sensational news that will sell. So are we trying to sell rape?
The media and society tries to first find reasons to blame victim i.e if the patriarchal society rules were broken or not, then possible pity for her in the crime, followed by fake mourning over the lack of honour it brought to the Indian flag. As long as this trend continues instead of ethically reporting the news focused on rape as a social issue & role of patriarchy, the logical sensitivity towards the victim privacy, India can not see change in the mentality of victim blaming and further perpetuating similar crimes in the society.
If rape victims are continued to be seen through the lenses of social policing and sensationalising story characters, India remains in the global headlines with the highest statistics of rape in the global context.
The media should stop cheap journalism and step forward to report rape as a social issue instead of narrating & depicting it as a one time horror story.