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Enforce reporting rules: Women media network 

By Matters India Reporter

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala’s women media persons in have demanded the state government to issue an order to reinforce existing media guidelines especially in reporting sexual harassment and rape cases.

“It is quite unfortunate to see that much of visual print and online reporting is a blatant violation of all the existing guidelines and norms,” the Network of Women in Media, Kerala, told state Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on July 13.

The network pleaded the chief minister to issue a guideline applicable to every category of media, including visual, print and online, and ensure its compliance.

The group met Vijayan in the backdrop of the arrest of a leading cine actor of Kerala in connection with rape of an actress.

Gopalakrishnan Padmanabhan Pillai, who uses the screen name Dileep, was arrested on July 10 and subsequently remanded for conspiracy of kidnapping and rape attempt on the actress.

“The unnecessary detailing of the attack on the actress and the discussions over the nuances of the nature of the attack was nothing but a brutal violation of the privacy of the survivor and thus the violation of article 21-right to life –the fundamental right entitled to the survivor by the constitution of India,” the network asserted.

Such media reports, they warned, “will only traumatize a survivor over and again, who has already undergone severe physical and mental torture .”

The network wants a comprehensive policy that adheres to section 228 A of the Indian Penal Code that stipulate disclosure of a rape survivor’s identity as a punishable offense.

Various sections of the code award imprisonment up to two years if someone prints or publishes the name the survivor or any matter that can reveal the survivor’s identity.

The women also want the government order to highlight the Press Council of India’s 2010 norms of journalistic conduct. The norms ask reporters who cover sexual assault cases to avoid raising questions on the chastity and character of the survivor.

The Norms section 6 says: “While reporting crime involving rape, abduction or kidnap of women/females or sexual assault on children, or raising doubts and questions touching the chastity, personal character and privacy of women, the names, photographs of the victims or other particulars leading to their identity shall not be published.”

A Code of Practice for Journalists issued the Editors Guild of India 3. states that “In reporting crime, particularly crimes of sex, and more so crimes involving children, utmost care should be taken to see that the report itself does not become a punishment, which may blast a life without warrant.”

Similar self-regulation is also stressed in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s 2008 guidelines for broadcasters.

The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has also issued detailed guidelines to broadcasters for reporting cases of sexual assault. It asks electronic media not to show visuals or details which could “re-traumatize” the survivors or reveal their identities.

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