First person reporting on rape

IN Media Practice | 23/09/2002
Analyzing the Times of India story of the rape of a young girl on a suburban train, witnessed by its reporter

Analyzing the Times of India story of the rape  of a young girl on a suburban train, witnessed by its reporter.

 

 

                             First person reporting on rape

 

 

This report attempts to analyze the controversial press coverage of the rape
of a young woman in a Mumbai suburban train on August 14, 2002, with a view to deepen the learning experience of journalists.


It summarises the views of Mumbai-based journalists associated with the Network of Women in the Media, Mumbai (NWMM), and also includes contributions from some journalists elsewhere - both male and female - expressed through email and personal discussions. We hope this case study stimulates further debate on the coverage of this incident and also brings out the wider implications for journalists and media organisations when we are called upon to write on sensitive social issues.

 

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The original story.

 


The Times of India: 15th August, 2002

`Paralysed with fear, we couldn¿t stop him¿


By Ambarish Mishra

 

Times News Network


Mumbai:  We were worse than the Mahatma¿s three monkeys. We,  the five passengers on the last Borivli-bound train on Tuesday  night witnessed   a  youth  sexually  assaulting  a  minor,   mentally-challenged  girl in the second-class compartment.  But  paralysed with fear, we could neither effectively confront the man or  stop him. Seated  by the window, I was engrossed in a book. When the  train chugged  out  of Malad station, I thought to take in  some  fresh air. As I stood in the gangway, I saw Salim Samsher Khan sexually assaulting the girl, all of 12 or 13. He had forced himself  upon her  on the long seat overlooking the gangway. He was  struggling
to pull down her skirt. The girl was screaming. "Yeh  kyaa kar rahe ho. Stop it,¿¿ I told Salim. An  angry  Salim reminded me of the Sanskrit proverb that a person mad with sexual desire has neither fear nor shame. "Go away. Why are you here?  I shall  throw you out of the running train,¿¿ he snapped.  He  was drunk. His blood-shot eyes barely concealed a streak of  madness.
The girl struggled to shake free. The  girl¿s  screams  had  caught  the  attention  of  the  other
passengers.  They  craned their necks to gather every  detail  of what  they  thought  was one of the  routine  `tamashas¿  on  the suburban train - a quarrel, a practical joke, or some such.  What
we  saw left us numb. Salim had pulled the girl to the floor  and was raping her. Burdened with our middle-class sensibilities,  we remained silent. As  the  train  slowed down at Borivli  station,  Salim  smoothly alighted, but only after telling the girl to keep her mouth shut. She  staggered  to the nearest seat. I saw Salim  striking  up  a conversation  with someone, as if nothing had happened. I  and  a fellow-passenger,  Vasant  Kulai,  then handed him  over  to  the railway police.Railway  police inspector Jaysingh Chavan said no case  could  be registered until the girl was "produced¿¿. Then began a long trek to the car-shed between Kandivli and Borivli where the rakes halt for the night. With two constables in tow, Mr Kulai and I scanned every compartment of the six rakes, but the girl wasn¿t  anywhere in sight. Futility  seemed  to stare us in the face, but Mr Kulai  and  the police  party  finally  spotted the  girl  on  Borivli  platform. Meanwhile,  another  passenger,  Ravi  Ingole,  came  forward  to confirm the case at the police station. Senior railway

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