An Assamese TV station is being slammed on social networking sites after it aired a report on “scantily clad” women, calling them a summer-time nuisance that went against the local culture.
The report on Pratidin Time, which ran with an “exclusive” tag, began by showing shots of monkeys wearing clothes and then of women in short skirts, with a voice in the background saying while animals were keen on putting on clothes, women appear to be shedding them.
The channel uploaded the report on YouTube in May, but the video went viral recently, prompting massive outrage online. After this, the TV station pulled down the video.
However, a copy of it has gone viral on Facebook and Twitter. The video shows snippets of women and teenagers in short skirts and hot pants with the popular Bollywood song “Kanta laga” playing in the background.
The reporter of the story then remarked that such clothing went against Assam's culture and tradition. The 3.420-minute video that mostly focuses on women’s posteriors and legs without their consent ran with a ticker: "Fashion means expose".
The reporter of the story, Hemen Rajbongshi, also asked some local women about their opinion on wearing shorts. Most of them said they had no problems with wearing them.
Several people, including Bollywood actor Adil Hussain, had also filed a petition ‘practice ethical journalism’ on Change.org against the news channel.
When HT contacted Rajbongshi on Thursday over the controversy, he said: "My motive was not to disrespect women... If you go through the news, you will understand that I reported from a psychological point of view of our society. In April, renowned singer Zubilee Barua had to leave the stage during a Bihu function in Chandmari for refusing to dress in traditional attire as requested by the organisers earlier."
The reporter also clarified that he was not against western dress, but there should a "right place and a right occasion" to wear them.
On being asked about why he didn’t focus on men wearing similar attires, he replied: After doing that report, I even met a psychiatrist.
He told me that…when a man walks pass a girl wearing shorts, he doesn’t stimulate her... It's opposite in a girl's case." Pratidin Time’s executive editor Khagen Kalita, however, said the editorial could have edited the report in a better way and warned the reporter of not repeating the same.
“We have learnt a lesson from the incident, but there is a section of the state media, which has misinterpreted the story. We ran stories on men wearing similar attires, but those were never highlighted.”
Three years ago, a local TV reporter was arrested for allegedly instigating a mob which molested and assaulted a teenager girl outside a bar in Guwahati.
Following the growing outrage, the channel released an official statement later on Thursday evening.
"Pratidin Time had broadcast a particular news around one and an half months back that has come to our notice as being taken up by some people through social media to create an unnecessary stir. The news was presented based on certain widely discussed topics in Assam's social and cultural spheres. The news was neither meant to insult nor disrespect anybody. If it has in anyway, then the channel. 'Pratidin Time', is apologetic towards those concerned," said the statement in Assamese.