When the media professionals interview survivors of gender-based violence, they must keep in mind that they are asking survivors or their families to recount an extremely traumatic experience.
Rachana Mudraboyina, creator of TransVision, India’s first YouTube channel for transgender issues, is fighting to tell the stories that others do not want to.
The news framing of an incident of rape can heavily influence how it is understood by society – as a public problem instead of a ‘woman’s mistake’.
Shows like Crime Patrol, Savdhaan India, Gunah and Sansani have made a fortune out of turning trauma into entertainment, and making a mockery of these cases under the guise of 'awareness' or 'gender sensitisation'.
Given the above, it looks like most rape reports in the news media present an incomplete picture. The public perception of rape, however, depends heavily on how it is reported.
When the family members of victims express views in favour of the death penalty as an appropriate form of retributive justice, media reports rarely provide context in the form of the larger discourse on capital punishment.
The media contributes to society’s view of women as attention-hungry liars or extortionists when it insinuates GBV cases as false rape cases.
While it is important to draw attention to cases of rape and gender-based violence, it is equally important not to turn a grievous crime into a media circus – something that begins to resemble entertainment.
The reach of media is unsurprisingly high, traversing local and international borders. Its coverage of issues like violence against women guide the public discourse and shape the opinion and understanding of its viewers and readers.
The media's language can determine whether an incident of rape is viewed in a victim-blaming manner, or in a way that affirms the agency of women.