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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

'Sex crime reporting up 30% since Dec 16'

IANS  New Delhi, November 11, 2013
First Published: 22:26 IST(11/11/2013) | Last Updated: 00:21 IST(12/11/2013)

The reporting of sex crimes has increased nearly 30% after the December 16 gang-rape case, Daniel Drache, professor of political science at York University in Canada and visiting professor at Jamia Millia Islamia, said on Monday.

Speaking at a lecture entitled "Sex Crimes Reporting in the Indian Press", Drache, who is also associate director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, said the main problem India is facing is violence against women. He compared reporting of sex crimes before the December 16 incident and afterwards, and said the mass media could cause a transformation, and change the conscience of people.

"Violence against women is a permanent fixture in the Indian press, with the most brutal cases garnering the greatest attention," he said.

The gangrape case of 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who was brutally sexually assaulted by six men, including a juvenile, in a moving bus on December 16, 2012, has increased sex crimes reporting in Indian media, he said.

Drache said the December 16, 2012 case has been "taking between 10-20% of the share of rape stories, across varying storylines".

The academic pointed to the extensive coverage of that brutal crime in the foreign press, and said the media was becoming the centre for the transforming changes in society.

"The most widely covered rape case in recent history, the December 16 rape case, has been described as a watershed moment where national outrage has effectively directed the news agenda for over three months," the professor said, adding: "The globalization of this case intensified the press coverage, and it created a large public space for debate and the venting of anger".

He pointed out that rape was hardly a new crime anywhere in the world, including in India, but voices were now being raised against it.

"The globalization of the news cycle played a major role in public debate and the demand for a significant response from the government to take immediate action to protect women from sex crimes. There are many lessons to be learned from this remarkable coverage," Drache said, while speaking at the Centre for Culture, Media and Governance of the Jamia Millia Islamia.

"The Indian press needs to take a hard look at its coverage of sexual violence, if it intends to have a higher standard of journalism with a modern view of sexual crimes and violence," the academic said.

After she was raped brutally, the physiotherapy student and her male friend were stripped of their clothing and thrown out of the vehicle to die by the roadside on the cold December night.

The woman later died of grave intestinal injuries December 29 at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital, where she was airlifted for specialised treatment.

The trial court September 13 awarded the death sentence to Mukesh, 26, Akshay Thakur, 28, Pawan Gupta, 19, and Vinay Sharma, 20, convicted in the case, and referred the case to the high court for confirmation of their sentence.


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