It is an unfortunate reality of the times that we live in that rape cases and other similar crimes are reported on a daily basis. And while the media often finds itself tasked with bringing these rather sensitive cases into the public eye, there is a certain balance that must be struck.
To give an example, one should not name a rape or assault victim, or unnecessarily malign or speculate on the circumstances. Nor should minors - whether accused or the victim - be named and shamed by the media. And above all, one really should not barge into the house of a survivor and take pictures and so on. Not only are these ethical obligations, there are legal repercussions attached too.
The Network of Women in Media on Sunday put forth a statement of sorts condemning the "attempt to harass and intimidate the family of a minor rape survivor" by a journalist. The NWMI identified the scribe in question as "Samsul Rehman, a stringer from the Guwahati-based DY365 news channel and Amar Asom newspaper." Many twitter users have also taken up the issue now.
The NWMI article, posted to their website says that Rehman had visited the family in their Guwahati home on August 4. On the pretext of reporting about the case, he had clicked photos against the family's wishes. "As they tried to prevent him from taking photographs, he reportedly said that he knew his job, 'so don’t tell me (how to do it).'" the article adds.
Contacting the editor of his organisation too did not yield the hoped for results. While the editor said that action would be taken against the reporter, that very night Rehman allegedly called up the family and threatened them with a legal case for “misbehaviour”.
"The next day, the reporter visited the family again, with four fellow reporters – from News 18, Prag News Channel, Ishan TV and Asamiya Pratidin newspaper," NWMI adds.
The matter did not end here. A day later, on August 6, an article appeared in Amar Asom newspaper regarding the matter. This news report named the victim's sister. This seems to have been a breaking point of sorts for the minor survivor, as she reportedly went missing for two days after this incident. "When she was found, she said she had intended to kill herself," NWMI adds.
Echoed by many outraged Twitter users, the NWMI has called for action against Rehman and his associates as well as Amar Asom.
"The misuse of power by members of the journalistic community must be condemned in the strongest terms. The police and administration must make all efforts to reassure the survivor and her family that their identity will be protected at all costs, and their safety ensured," the letter adds.