Guide to Rape Reporting

Laws and voluntary guidelines representation of rape victims in media channels With so many sexual assault and rape cases coming in to light every day and media coverage growing manifold, The Hoot has compiled the laws and guidelines for the journalists reporting such cases.
Posted/Updated Thursday, Sep 26 11:53:26, 2013

Q. SHOULD A RAPE VICTIM BE IDENTIFIED?

A. No.

1. Under the Indian Penal Code, it is an offence punishable with up to 2 years imprisonment, with or without a fine.

Exceptions under IPC: [1]  [nos. refer to references below]

a)  unless a police officer conducting the investigation authorises it in good faith

b)  unless the victim authorises it in writing.

or

the next of kin of the victim authorises it.

2.Under the press laws guide of The Press Council of India Journalistic Conduct Norms:

No names to be published or disclosed, no photographs to be used, no particulars leading to identity of victim to be published.

(While reporting crime involving rape, abduction or kidnapping  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and privacy of women, the names, photographs of the victims or other particulars leading to their identity shall not be published.) [2]

3. Identify with utmost care (Editors Guild) [3]

Q. SHOULD CHILD VICTIMS BE IDENTIFIED?

A. No

1. Minor children and infants who are the offspring of sexual abuse or 'forcible marriage' or illicit sexual union shall not be identified or photographed. (Press Laws Guide, The Press Council of India Journalistic Conduct Norms) [2]

2. With regard to minors, victims of rape and sexual crimes greatest care should be taken to protect their identity. (Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) [4]

3. The fundamental guideline for the media with regard to reporting on sexual violence against children, is to protect the identity of the child. (National Human Rights Commission) [5]

Q. ARE THERE SPECIAL RULES FOR PRINT/TV MEDIA?

A. Yes.

1. The audio-visual presentation of any content will be given in a responsible and aesthetic manner, subject to the condition that the following shall not be included in these three categories: Category ‘U’, Category ‘U/A’ and Category ‘A’. (Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) [4]

2. Use suitable techniques such as masking blurring, changing names or identities etc., particularly in the cases of minors, victims of sexual violence or dreaded diseases like HIV/AIDS or natural or other disasters unless there is an identifiable larger public interest involved. (Indian Broadcasting Federation) [6]

3. Electronic media should not to show visuals or details which could "re-traumatise" the victims or reveal their identities. (News Broadcasting Standards Authority) [7]

4. Where any proceedings are held under sub-section (2)*, it shall not be lawful for any person to print or publish any matter in relation to any such proceedings, except with the previous permission of the court. (Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973) [8]

Sub-section (1): The place in which any Criminal Court is held for the purpose of inquiring into or trying any offence shall be deemed to be an open court to which the public generally may have access, so far as the same can conveniently contain them

* Sub-section (2): Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the inquiry into and trial of rape or an offence under section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) shall be conducted in camera.

Q. SHOULD THE VICTIM’S FAMILY BE IDENTIFIED?

A. News channels should not to show any visuals of the funeral or even shots of the deceased's home or family. Channels have been asked to not air interviews with any relative.

(The Broadcast Editors' Association)  [9]

Q. SHOULD THE PERPETRATORS BE IDENTIFIED?

A. The alleged criminal and the victim and the witnesses must be identified with utmost care, with no implications of caste or religion. Only on the strongest grounds of public interest, should any of these considerations be diluted. (The Editors Guild of India) [3]

Q. WHAT ARE THE GUIDELINES ON RESPECTING THE PRIVACY OF VICTIMS?

A.

1.  A journalist shall not invade the privacy of an individual especially during time of grief or stress. A journalist shall respect an individual’s private life unless it is in the public interest or the public’s right to know. (Mizzima journalists) [10]

2. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law. (Article 21 of the Constitution) [11]                                         

------------------------------------------------

References

[1] As per Section 228 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences etc, anyone who reveals or does an act that may reveal the identity of a rape victim is liable for punishment up to two years with or without fine. The exact citing of the section is:

i228A. Disclosure of identity of the victim of certain offences etc.— (1) Whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offence under section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D is alleged or found to have been committed (hereafter in this section referred to as the victim) shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.“Respect privacy. A journalist shall not invade the privacy of an individual especially during time of grief or stress. A journalist shall respect an individual’s private life unless it is in the public interest or the public’s right to know.”
 (2) Nothing in sub-section (1) extends to any printing or publication of the name or any matter which may make known the identi­ty of the victim if such printing or publication is—
(a) by or under the order in writing of the officer-in-charge of the police station or the police officer making the investigation into such offence acting in good faith for the purposes of such investigation; or
 
(b) by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the victim; or
 
(c) where the victim is dead or minor or of unsound mind, by, or with the authorisation in writing of, the next of kin of the victim:
 
Provided that no such authorisation shall be given by the next of kin to anybody other than the chairman or the secretary, by whatever name called, of any recognised welfare institution or organisation.
 
Explanation:
For the purposes of this sub-section, “recognised welfare institution or organisation” means a social welfare institution or organisation recognised in this behalf by the Central or State Government.
 
(3) Whoever prints or publishes any matter in relation to any proceeding before a court with respect to an offence referred to in sub-section (1) without the previous permission of such Court shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.
 
Explanation
The printing or publication of the judgment of any High Court or the Supreme Court does not amount to an offence within the meaning of this section.
 
CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCE
 
Para I
Punishment—Imprisonment for two years and fine—Cognizable—Bailable—Triable by any Magistrate—Non-compoundable.
Para II
Punishment—Imprisonment for two years and fine—Cognizable—Bailable—Triable by any Magistrate—Non-compoundable.
Comments
Name of victim to be suppressed
Section 228A of I.P.C. makes disclosure of identity of victim of certain offences punishable. Printing or publishing of any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an offence under section 376, 376A, 376B, 376C or 376D is alleged or found to have been committed can be punished. True it is, the restriction does not relate to printing or publication of judgment by High Court or Supreme Court. But in view of the social object of preventing social victimization or ostracism of the victim of a sexual offence for which section 228A has been enacted, it would be appropriate that in the judgments, be it of Supreme Court, High Court or lower court, the name of the victim should not be indicated; State of Punjab v. Ramdev Singh, AIR 2004 SC 1290.
 
[2] The Press Council of India Journalistic Conduct Norms
(2010 edition; http://presscouncil.nic.in/norms-2010.pdf) prohibit the visual representation or photograph of not just the victim, but also her family or relatives to avoid identification. The exact citation is:
 
6. Right to Privacy
 
ii) Caution against Identification: 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.
 
iii) Minor children and infants who are the offspring of sexual abuse or 'forcible marriage' or illicit sexual union shall not be identified or photographed.
 
iv) Intrusion through photography into moments of personal grief shall be avoided. However, photography of victims of accidents or natural calamity may be in larger public interest.
 
Further, Section 8 about recording interviews and phone conversation states that: "iii) Intrusion through photography into moments of personal grief shall be avoided. However, photography of victims of accidents or natural calamity may be in larger public interest.
 
[3] A Code of Practice for Journalists (http://vimarshaki.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/code-of-practice.pdf) issued by The Editors Guild of India 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.
 
The alleged criminal and the victim and the witnesses must be identified with utmost care, with no implications of caste or religion. Only on the strongest grounds of public interest, should any of these considerations be diluted.
 
[4] According to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB)’s Self-Regulation Guidelines for the Broadcasting Secto (Draft2008;
 http://www.mib.nic.in/writereaddata/html_en_files/Codes/codes_bro/ContentCode100308.pdf):
Audio – Visual Presentation: The audio visual presentation of any content will be given in a responsible and aesthetic manner, subject to the condition that the following shall not be included in these three categories: Category ‘U’, Category ‘U/A’ and Category ‘A’.
Further, the MIB content code that applies to DD, AIR and private broadcasters, as well, states that “With regard to minors, victims of rape and sexual crimes greatest care should be taken to protect their identity.”

[5] The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Guidelines for Media on Sexual Violence Against Children  (http://www.nhrc.nic.in/Documents/Publications/MedGuideChild.pdf):

“According to the Indian Constitution, every citizen has the right of freedom to speech and expression. But these rights have restrictions. The fundamental guideline for the media with regard to reporting on sexual violence against children, is to protect the identity of the child. Under Section 21 of the Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection of Children), 2000, publishing, disclosing the name, address, school or any other particulars, photographs, etc., which can identify the child, is prohibited.

 Section 228 A IPC punishes whoever discloses by printing or publication the identity of the victim of a rape.

Section 293 IPC prohibits the sale, hire, exhibition or circulation of obscene books, print material, figures to persons under 20 years.

Section 327 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits any reporting of a court case that deals with the sexual exploitation of a child, without the specific permission of the court.”

The NHRC has now proposed that these guidelines be extended to all rape victims, regardless of age (http://nhrc.nic.in/Documents/recomm_verma_committee_2012.pdf)

[6] Indian Broadcasting Federation’s (IBF’S) Content Code & Certification Rules 2011 (http://ibfindia.com/pdf/1337260899.pdf)

Short title, extent and commencement. – This Code and Rules may be called the Indian Broadcasting Foundation “Content Code & Certification Rules 2011 (hereinafter the IBF Content Code 2011)”, as approved and adopted by the board of Indian Broadcasting Foundation. It shall extend to all general entertainment and non-news and current affairs television channels operating in India. It shall come into effect on the date as notified the by Board of the IBF Reveal the identity of an individual or his family or location of his home or fail to protect the privacy of his personal or private activities by failing to use suitable techniques such as masking blurring, changing names or identities etc., particularly in the cases of minors, victims of sexual violence or dreaded diseases like HIV/AIDS or natural or other disasters unless there is an identifiable larger public interest involved.

About audio –visual presentation, the IBF’s voluntary code states that “ The audio visual presentation of any content will be given in a responsible and aesthetic manner, subject to the condition that the following shall not be included in respective categories below:  

Category “G” i.e. programmes for unrestricted viewing and/or under parental guidance:

-- Show explicit images of sexual activity or sexual perversions or violence including rape, molestation etc.

Category “R” i.e. programmes which may not be suitable for children & young viewers:

 -- Show explicit images of sexual perversions or acts of sexual intercourse being performed. Show explicit images of violence including rape, molestation etc., unless the storyline, or subject matter or context justifies its use.

[7] The News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) chaired by former Supreme Court Chief Justice J S Verma recently issued following detailed guidelines to broadcasters for reporting cases of sexual assault. NBSA urged electronic media not to show visuals or details which could "re-traumatise" the victims or reveal their identities:

1. News channels must bear in mind that news coverage of crime influences the mindset of the viewer and has a significant impact on the public perception of such crime.

2. In reporting on matters involving sexual assault, news channels are advised to carefully balance the survivor’s right to privacy and that of the survivor’s family with public interest.

3. News channels must ensure that no victim of sexual assault, violence, aggression, trauma or a witness to any such acts, is featured in any news report or program, relating to such victim, without concealing the identity of such person. In conformity with this principle any visuals shown of the victim must be completely morphed.  

4. In reporting on cases of sexual assault on women, victims of child abuse and juvenile delinquents, to respect their privacy, the name, photograph and other details that may lead to disclosure of their identity or that of the family shall not be broadcast or divulged.

5. News channels must exercise sensitivity, discretion and sound judgment particularly in the following cases:

 5.1. When disclosure of details of the sexual assault would only serve to re-traumatise the survivor;

5.2 When details of the sexual assault are needed to be disclosed to secure a safe environment;

6. News channels must take special note of the provisions of Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code 1860 and of Section 21 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 which provide for protection of the identity of victims of sexual offences and of juveniles in conflict with the law.

[8] As per the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPc), rape trial proceedings be held "in-camera trial", meaning there must be very few people permitted inside the court room during the trial and shall be only those who are connected to the incident, like the accused, police, judge, lawyers of the case, experts like a forensic doctor, witnesses, if any. The exact citing is:

(1)ii The place in which any Criminal Court is held for the purpose of inquiring into or trying any offence shall be deemed to be an open court to which the public generally may have access, so far as the same can conveniently contain them:

Provided that the presiding Judge or Magistrate may, if he thinks fit, order at any stage of any inquiry into, or trial of, any particular case, that the public generally, or any particular person, shall not have access to, or be or remain in, the room building used by the court.

iii(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), the inquiry into and trial of rape or an offence under section 376, section 376A, section 376B, section 376C or section 376D of the

Indian Penal Code

(45 of 1860) shall be conducted in camera:

Provided that the presiding Judge may, if he thinks fit, or on an application made by either of the parties, allow any particular person to have access to, or be or remain in, the room or building used by the court.

(3) Where any proceedings are held under sub-section (2), it shall not be lawful for any person to print or publish any matter in relation to any such proceedings, except with the previous permission of the court.]

[9] After the highly-publicised Delhi gang rape case, The Broadcast Editors' Association issued detailed guidelines to ensure that the privacy of the victim's family is respected. In its guidelines, the editors' body has asked news channels not to show any visuals of the funeral or even shots of the deceased's home or family. Channels have been asked to not air interviews with any relative.

The BEA said that information about arrival of body and funeral can be provided, but the location of the funeral should not be made public. It also asked channels not to show shots of arrival of the body and not to chase the funeral van.

[10] A Code of Ethics was adopted by Mizzima journalists in Delhi, India on October 1, 2004, states that:

“Respect privacy. A journalist shall not invade the privacy of an individual especially during time of grief or stress. A journalist shall respect an individual’s private life unless it is in the public interest or the public’s right to know.”

[11] Constitutional Framework of Privacy

The right to privacy is recognised as a fundamental right under the Constitution of India. It is guaranteed under the right to freedom (Article 19) and the right to life (Article 21) of the Constitution. Article 19(1) (a) guarantees all citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression. It is the right to freedom of speech and expression that gives the media the right to publish any information. Reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right can be imposed by the State in the interests of sovereignty and integrity of the State, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. Article 21 of the Constitution provides, "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law." Courts have interpreted the right to privacy as implicit in the right to life.

____________________________________

iIns. by Act 43 of 1983, sec. 2 (w.e.f. 25-12-1983).

iiSection 327 renumbered as sub-section (1) thereof by Act 43 of 1983. sec. 4.

iiiIns. by Act 43 of 1983, sec. 4.

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