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The Indian Media Needs To Rethink How It Reports Rape

It all started off on 16th Dec 2012, when a young 23-year-old girl decided to board a bus in New Delhi with her male friend and the rest is history. What happened that night was considered one of the most heinous crimes that were committed in the country. What followed in the coming days was the unprecedented wave of media coverage of this issue. This incident really jolted the nation awake.

Previously, issues like “rape” and “sexual violence” were seen as rural issues but when such a gruesome rape happened in the country’s very own capital, it became an urban issue. The raped in the country’s capital made this an urban issue and hence the English language newspapers decided to report it since now the urban middle-class crowd could relate to now.

This incident brought to light a lot of issues that needed to be dealt with but had been conveniently pushed under the rug.


Media organizations really need a crash course on how to report rape, sexual assault, and gender-based acts of violence.

photo courtesy: Twitter
Starting from terming it “rarest of the rare" to "most brutal and diabolical attack ever committed in the country" sending spiral shock waves throughout the nation. When a rape case is filed, it is often sensationalised. Why does the brutality of it have to matter and make headlines?. It is quite sickening that the media would do anything for its TRPs. Even Indian women's rights activists agreed that rape is not specific to a country like ours nor is it new. But how the media wants to report it, makes it seem like nothing else happens apart from rape.


Front newspaper headlines of screaming with gruesome details and overly detailed descriptions of the crime which is completely unnecessary.

photo courtesy: India Link
It’s a competition for newspapers to see who gets more TRPs in being more outrages to a point where papers have used an exclamation marked in the headline. However, in doing so, the who point of the argument is missed. Things get reported, but the argument to reduce the violence against women is not talked about.


Irrelevant details and language used to describe victim.

photo courtesy: YouTube
As per Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code disclosing the name of the rape victim is illegal. Despite that being a law in our country, there were still pictures of the victim taken at the hospital and her name was revealed to the media. The media needs to be more sensitive towards rape reporting. Since it emotionally affects the woman.

Women who go out at night have only themselves to blame in case they attract the attention of male molesters, Mukesh Singh - driver of the bus.

This shouldn’t be front page headlines to encourage such rapists. This doesn't deserve any coverage or front page views. This just shows, however, developed a country you are, the mentality isn't going to change. You need start small and start the changing of mindset at home.


Reinforcing the victimhood of woman through images.

Indian Media reinforcing the victimhood of woman through images
photo courtesy: Khabrain Group
How newspapers portray women also play a huge role. Some are shown hiding or violently being silenced. These images propagate stereotypes unknowingly to the mass public that women are helpless victims. This further reiterates that woman need a man and need their protection. The way rape is viewed in media needs to change. Images really speak a thousand words and hence the way newspaper depict women should bring out a positive notion, not feelings of fear and trauma. If you have ever noticed, victims of rape are always shown as fearful and helpless. Which is not true in everyone's case.

But then media generalises everything and hence it has taken in the wrong sense. However the media has decided to report it, certainly has encouraged a number of women to speak up against issues, that wasn't talked about before like molestation, harassment, stalking etc.

Nevertheless, leaving you with words spoken by the victims father, underlining the societal changes emerging out of a personal disaster.

Let us not forget, it was because of her sacrifice that all these changes have taken place and I believe there will be more positive changes in the future.

Written by
Payal Singh

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