But I'm on the same page as you, Laxmi

BY BACHI KARKARIA| IN Media Practice | 06/09/2013
I am disturbed that this critical issue is turning into a territorial conflict, a my-sensitivity-is-better-than-yours.
BACHI KARKARIA~s response to Laxmi Murthy~s "Rape victim~s identity-disclosure for whom".

I am surprised by Laxmi Murthy's 'response' to my Edit Page piece 'Don't Make Her Lose Her Face' in the Times of India. And disturbed that this critical issue is turning into a territorial conflict, a my-sensitivity-is-better-than-yours. We cannot let it become a cat-fight instead of jointly, and each in our own way, attacking what endangers the entire gender. 


I also take objection to the suggestion made here, and privately to me as well, that my article was a) written in defence of the Times of India's coverage, and b) was meant as a counter to Kalpana Sharma's piece in The Hoot which criticised the TOI's 'revelations'. I have felt as strongly as my 'feminist' peers on shame being attached to the 'victim', 'survivor', call her what you will. And I have come to believe that she should help cast it away. She can do so by jettisoning the 'anonymity' which reinforces the perception of 'dishonour'. Any objective reading of the piece should show this quite clearly. 

I have nowhere justified the word 'survivor' which I think is only a marginal improvement on 'victim'. Certainly nowhere have I suggested that journalists should unilaterally start naming the person, or even publish give-away details. As it is, as a profession we have begun to appropriate too much self-importance. The very first sentence of the article lays down a caveat. And emphasises that the decision to reveal identity is one that only the affected woman is entitled to make, she and her immediate family because they too go through the same emotional trauma. 

Of course, as Laxmi has said, it is not a decision that can be made without a serious weighing of the consequences. I am not that naive that I do not understand the social implications; indeed that too is clear enough. What I have said is that the woman must reclaim her own honour and self-respect, because a self-righteous society will not surrender its right to point fingers. 

I have always recognised that women's groups and journalists who speak for them have been important change agents, and the piece says so. Accept it at face value. In the process, be open to the point made that abandoning the raped woman to facelessness is also a form of gender violence. Let us fight the issue, not each other.
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