Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nice to see an article about the role of the press in addressing increased violence against women!

Opinion » Readers' Editor
July 4, 2011
Arresting crime against women: key role for press
S. Viswanathan

When the Mumbai police finally cracked the daylight murder of
investigative journalist Jyotirmoy Dey and arrested seven persons
contracted by the long-absconding underworld gangster, Chotta Rajan,
thousands of readers were still restless over the delay in discovering
the motive behind the ghastly crime. Many readers of this newspaper,
who expressed solidarity through their mails, attributed the
breakthrough to the relentless pressure from journalists and the
spontaneous support of the public, who were outraged at the brutality
involved. While one reader wrote that the police must go beyond
arresting the alleged assailants and wipe out „the entire crime
syndicate responsible for the murder,‰ another reader expressed the
view that „the dismantling of the underworld is equally important.‰
Yet another feared that „the main killers may never be apprehended‰
and advised the journalists and whistle-blowers to exercise the utmost
vigil, especially when they deal with „the underworld and political

One could only hope that investigation and prosecution reach a speedy
and successful conclusion. Even as this process proceeds, the State
government would do well to honour its own word and put in place
effective protection for journalists against their adversaries.

Rising trend in crime against women

Meanwhile, several incidents of violence targeting mostly the deprived
sections of the people in different parts of the country are
disturbing and disheartening. Growing violence against women is a
cause for great concern.

Five recent incidents of violence have been reported in Uttar Pradesh
within a couple of days in mid-June. In Kanauj district, a minor Dalit
girl was assaulted by two young men in an attempt to molest her; when
she resisted, the girl was stabbed repeatedly in her eyes. Doctors
said later that the cornea of her left eye had been totally damaged
and the chances of restoring her vision were ruled out. In another
incident in Basti district, a Dalit girl was reportedly raped. A day
later, a 35-year-old woman with two children was raped, allegedly by a
gang of three in Etah district. The same day, in Gonda district, the
body of a Dalit girl was found in a field. Three persons were said to
be involved in the crime and the police did not rule out rape. In
another incident in Firozabad district, a girl aged 15 was reportedly

In Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh, a minor girl was reported to
have been sexually assaulted and burnt on June 29 by a pastor. The
girl died of severe burns at a hospital. The pastor was taken into

In Tamil Nadu, P. Krishnaveni, president of the Thalayuthu village
panchayat in Tirunelveli district, was brutally attacked by a gang a
few weeks ago. Admitted in hospital with nine stab injuries, the Dalit
panchayat chief is recovering. A fact-finding body that visited the
victim and the village under her control said that the panchayat
president faced discrimination from the day she took charge nearly
five years ago. She was not even allowed to sit in the chair allotted
to her in her office. Repeated complaints to authorities from the
panchayat chief, the fact-finding body said, were of no avail.

Poor conviction rate

These crimes against women happened in three States and were reported
by the news media in a short span of about two weeks. It is not as
though most other States are free from such violence against women.
About two lakh cases of violence have been registered by the National
Crime Records Bureau, according to its recent data.

It is well known that discriminatory and oppressive social attitudes,
not to mention plain greed and corruption, infect the attitude of the
authorities, and especially the police, in many cases when serious
complaints go uninvestigated or are poorly investigated. Only when
investigation is free, fair, and speedy and only when the conviction
rate improves in cases where women are the targets of various forms of
violence can crimes against women be brought down. The press has a key
role to play in working against any cover-up in this area.

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