I do not know if any of you noticed yesterdays Dawn newspaper [27th March] page 4 – which showed a picture of a 17-year old [underage] Tharparker rape victim. Its possible many may be aware of her, a local political leader from Tharparker had gang raped her on 24th January and since then she has been screaming for justice, this case has become the talk of the town in Interior Sindh but has failed to capture the fascination of the nationwide electronic and print media. Dawn did in some may have tried to help bring attention to the cause but it went a bit overboard, choosing to publish her picture and name sitting in front of Hyderabad Press Club – practically raping her all over again, and now in public – instead of protecting her even more, they go all out publishing her name and picture but did not so much as even bother to publish the name of the political leader who gang raped her in Tharparker
The issue at Dawn seemingly continues to get worse barely a month back I protested Dawn Raping the Rape Victim where they explicitly named the 20-yr old Daweoo rape victim along with some explicit details on how the rape was done, my argument even then was that if the victim had the courage to come forth to the media, they have taken a very bold step choosing to stand up against their perpetrators publicly, it is mostly seen as a last ditch effort to get some justice from an heinously skewed system that protects the powerful, and when they do, newspapers and the electronic media exploit the victim by publishing explicit details and in a way not actually helping bring the perpetrators to justice.
Sadly its a problem within our society where rape victims are subjugated to so much of external trauma after the crime itself victims don’t dare defame themselves even further by coming out in publicly. Why is it that victims of the White Corolla in Karachi did not have the courage to come forward, they could probably not bear to stand the added stigma and assault that would have been inflicted on them once their names become public, as Faisal rightly said “why do we call it Veena Hayat case, why do we call it as Dr. Shazia Case, why could they have not have been referred to as “Irfan Marwat Case” or in Dr. Shazia’s situation – “Captain Hammad Case” – it just would have pressurized the culprits more instead of putting more undue pressure on the victim. I believe the point should have been to focus on the case itself and focusing the effort of defaming the criminals, if you consider the lameness of our society in accepting the fact that its not the victim who lost her honor its actually the criminal who lost his all bit of respect. ”
Leveraging the media is important tool in helping these women get justice but there must be some degree of responsibility, I believe womens group activists, WAR and other human rights activists need to come together with media personalities to discuss, educate and empower them with good standards with the hope that the system can come together when needed to hep the victims working to – Defame the criminal but protecting the victim
I am glad to update you that on Saturday I wrote to the Editor of Dawn Mr Abass Nasir, and he was quick to respond with a very courtesos apology and followed through with the publication of a shortened version of my letter to him, and their apology.
The publication of the picture was a mistake. We apologise to the rape survivor and regret the error. — Editor
I must appreciate Abbas Nasir and the Dawn editorial team for attempting to correct the mistake, maybe its time to ensure that such a mistake is not repeated again, not only in Dawn but as well as in other print and electronic media outlets. Lets truly work hand-in-hand to try and protect the victims but do our damnedest to root this heinous crime behind bars