15 April 2018

[Note] On Revealing the ID of the Child Raped in Kathua

The Delhi High Court, to the chagrin of some, seems to have come down quite strongly against the media disclosing the identity of the child who was raped and killed in Kathua.

Just to reiterate: we're talking of homicidal child rape in Kathua. Surely, we can't claim to 'need' to know the girl's identity or to 'need' to see pictures seemingly of her corpse in disarray before outrightly condemning the crime. If we do, and we further violate her privacy, what does that say of us?

The Delhi High Court's actions aren't a disaster for press freedom, and it's a challenge to see how such limited regulation could jeopardize future legal reportage. The court is only upholding the law, and trying to safeguard the privacy of a child as required by the law. 

Kathua aside, it's worth remembering that this isn't the first time when those allegedly raped have had their identities as well as images of themselves in disarray be revealed. Photographs of the women in Badaun who were allegedly raped, for example, were shared in a cavalier manner; their corpses hanging from trees, their faces not even always blurred.

This is an issue of both law and ethics, especially since the images of raped upper claste women tend not to be thus shared to 'awaken' our supposed social consciences. It doesn't make sense to claim one must reveal victim identity or explicit details of rape to convey the gravity of the crime: crimes against upper claste women are highlighted without such intrusive violations of privacy. In fact, a rape in 2012, where the Indian media did not go out of its way to reveal the identity of the woman raped, resulted in legislative change.

Perhaps we should focus on alleged perpetrators & their defenders instead. Instead of insisting that violating the privacy of some of those who have been raped is legitimate.

(An old piece on the law protecting the ID of women & girls who have been raped: here and, 'raising awareness' shouldn't need this or, IMO, explicit detail, as argued in Equity and the Reportage of Human Rights.)

(Edited & cross-posted from Twitter.)

Update on 19 April 2018: The case number in the Delhi High Court is W.P.(C) 3725/2018; Court on its own motion v. Union of India and Ors.  

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