Of landslides, sixteen cyclists in a bus on a dark and stormy night and of poor news reporting.

On the night of 15th August our bus from Delhi to Kullu stopped on a dark road after the driver got warnings about land slides ahead. There were some tourists and sixteen cyclists in the bus. And lots of conversation. We stayed up all night with no mobile connectivity and endless rain, joking about how the adventure had already begun.  The next morning as the traffic crawled, tea, bananas, makki ki roti and kadhi chawal were bought. That evening we checked into a hotel, waiting for the landslides and traffic jams to clear. (Everybody agreed this reminded them of ‘Mr and Mrs Iyer‘)

Partially cleared landslide from inside the bus

Camera: Sony Cybershot-DSC T90

The bananas we ate came wrapped in this news headline in Hindi.

“Chamba mein premi ne looti aabru” (Roughly translates to – ‘Her lover looted the dignity of a victim.’)

Do you think the Indian media needs a clearer understanding of sexual crimes? Being victim of a sexual crime (or any crime) does not rob a woman (or anybody) of dignity.

I also feel the use of the word ‘lover’ (premi) trivializes the accusations made by the victim who seem to have seen the man as her future husband.

There is serious taboo against premarital sex for Indian women and it seems Sunita (not her real name) would not have sex with anyone but a husband (or a future husband). So it seems this man assured her that he was going to marry her and then for years, found excuses for not marrying her. If what the victim says is proved true, the man could be charged for cheating.

If Raj is convicted he could be jailed. But maybe Sunita would rather the dishonest, manipulative, disrespectful and irresponsible man married her since Indian women are raised to believe that nothing is as important as Getting Married and Staying Married.

And sex without being married, is seen as worse than being married to an abusive man. How do such taboos and values help Indian women?

Should it be legal for media, police and lawyers (etc) to imply that the victim has not only been cheated and exploited but has also lost her dignity?? Aren’t such implications the biggest reason why Indian women and their families don’t report sexual crimes?

Camera: Samsung Galaxy S II

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13 thoughts on “Of landslides, sixteen cyclists in a bus on a dark and stormy night and of poor news reporting.

  1. SO true i would also say on that word PREMI… and true if he has cheated then he should be charged but if not found then the girl should be charged for maligning the name of the man..

    These days pre marital sex is very common and definitely not thought of a taboo these days ..

    That landslide ooops not good …

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  2. I suppose I’d have to agree with you to, some extent. I personally do not buy into the amoral notions which hold that pre marital sex is quite normal and natural. I believe it is immoral, and sinful. However, I am certainly not insane enough to insist that everyone should share my own opinions and interpretations.

    A victim, is a victim, is a victim. The nature of the act which victimizes a person is quite irrelevant to the state of their being a victim. The fact that the victim was right-handed, or that they had green eyes, or that it was a cloudy morning on which they were victimized, or that the assault was sexual in nature, has no bearing on the state of being a victim.

    In this nation, we have an extremely blinkered understanding of such abstract concepts as dignity and honor. Dignified is as dignified does. Honorable is as honorable does. The definitions vary from person to person. Like crackpot fools, like little children, Indians will insist on stuffing their utterly subjective definitions down the collective esophagi of anyone who cares to listen, and will scream it from the rooftops if, as usual, no one does. The poor reporting style that you point out is nothing more and nothing less than a reflection of that rather un-endearing character trait that this country is collectively cursed with.

    Cheers,
    Puru

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  3. I agree with the reason you cited.
    In addition to this so called loss of dignity, there is fear of the courts and lawyers who will prolong the agony of the victim. Proving rape is not easy. Any clever lawyer can find loopholes and use specious arguments that enable his client to wriggle out. The abysmal record of convictions in rape cases is another bitter fact of life which the victim’s family consider before filing a complaint.

    I am not surprised that where possible or practical the families of victims are tempted to and often do take the law into their own hands and attempt to punish the rapist themselves.

    Relieved to hear you are back safely.
    Regards
    GV

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  4. Nice post, the pictures especially brought it to life. As for the newspaper clipping – it made me want to puke. What I found worst was that the style of reporting clearly shows that the newspaper editors have no idea about gender issues, or how insulting to women it is to call a rapist a lover…I could rant about this for a long time.
    Changing mindsets is the hardest thing in the world, thanks for helping to do that with your blog posts and commentary.

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  5. I get very irritated when I read such news articles. Indian society definitely need to learn how to segregate sex and dignity! Taboo on premarital sex is not the sole reason, the general attitude towards physical intimacy – the secrecy, the forbidden fruit etc- is the problem.

    Another big problem I have with cheating cases such as these is the use of the term ‘rape’. The guy made promise of love and marriage, the girl believed him. They had sex. After some time, the guy lost interest and left her. The woman goes to police and registers a case of ‘rape’, not ‘cheating’!!! I simply can not understand, the act was consensual when it was committed. I strongly believe by crying rape, such women trivialize the trauma and suffering real rape victims undergo.

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  6. Good post and valid observations. But I know there is a section of old school journalists who would always change headlines and give them a twist to make them more ‘readable’ and ‘juicy’.

    The two words ‘readable’ and ‘juicy’ are used here from the perspective of those journalists who feel that incidents like rape and molestation are read by a large number of people who are drawn to paper by such language.

    Ironical it is.

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  7. Related to the issue of rape in India, what I find most ridiculous is the large number of cases where the headlines proclaim ‘rapist agrees to marry victim’- as if he’s already, as the cutting you found put it, ‘taken her dignity’, so he might as well ‘keep it’ to himself then.. that’s the single most idiotic thing I’ve ever read/seen. Even parents would rather the man who ‘stole the girl’s dignity/purity’ kept it and their daughter stay in what is possibly, or even probably, an abusive marriage, considering the man’s already raped her, than let her live a life not being a virgin/’pure’ for them or future husbands..

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  8. On an other side. If a guy promises her to marry and have sexual relations and later disagree to marry how can that be a sexual crime? How can that be sexual harrassment? Its dishonesty and cheating. Of course dishonesty and cheating is a crime and it should be punished, but the wrong name given to the crime helps the one’s who do that crime. Isn’t it one of the reasons sexual criminals get name and fame.

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  9. Very sad state of affairs. Journalism has become more of a marketing tool for the newspapers than being true to their profession.If only every person did their job true to their conscience,we would have been living in a totally different set up.

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  10. Pingback: Anjali Gupta suicide. « The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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