Dinamalar needs a refresher course in laws against identifying sexual assault survivors

They even mixed up sex and rape, and the headline in one of their editions was appalling.
Dinamalar needs a refresher course in laws against identifying sexual assault survivors
Dinamalar needs a refresher course in laws against identifying sexual assault survivors
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It's not Women's Day today, so obviously, there's no need for the world to show any respect or consideration towards women. All that's done and dusted with March 8.

That's probably what Tamil newspaper Dinamalar - and even Tamil The Hindu - thought before going to press with an article that not only revealed the name of a survivor of sexual assault but also did it in a context not related to the crime.

Let's read that again: the newspaper was NOT reporting on the crime itself.

The article published across the newspaper's editions in Tamil Nadu, chose to announce that the survivor of the crime had got engaged to her long-time boyfriend while giving great prominence to the fact that she'd been sexually assaulted just a few weeks ago.

Why is this relevant at all?

Does Dinamalar always publish the details of crime that a person has committed or experienced along with their name when the context is something entirely different? Do they do this to politicians, especially men? Say, if Donald Trump was visiting the Taj Mahal, would Dinamalar recount the sexual harassment charges against him in the same piece?

The connection here is fairly obvious: victims of sexual assault, in public imagination, are no longer "marriage material" because we live in a toxic culture of victim blaming and shaming. Therefore, it becomes juicy gossip when one such survivor goes against the norm.

The Erode edition of the newspaper took the cake with its headline, identifying the victim as someone who'd been subjected to "sex kodumai" (loosely: sex torture) and was now getting engaged. The fact that they mixed up sex and rape shows how limited their understanding of violence against women is. Tamil The Hindu also mentions the survivor's name, and details of the crime, in a copy about their engagement - which, for some reason, has a headline about the sexual assault case. 

Not only has the newspaper gone against common human decency and journalistic ethics, it has also violated the law - Section 228(A) of the IPC forbids media organisations from revealing the identity of a person against whom an offence falling under Section 376 (rape) has been committed.

When the news of the sexual assault broke out, several media houses revealed the name of the victim and published her photograph before the nature of the crime was fully known. Many of them later retracted her identity from their articles.

The survivor has shown immense courage in filing the complaint, despite being a celebrity and knowing that the media will have a field day with the news. However, she has not expressly given her consent to be named and that is a choice we must respect as members of the media and general public.

The survivor is clearly keen to move on with her life and not make this one incident define who she is. Dinamalar and all those who're keen on bracketing her as "sex kodumai" victim should move on, too - from the medieval ages in which they reside.

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