Privacy breached, it was 'Peepli Live' for family of 10-year-old rape victim hounded by media

With the Supreme Court declaring privacy a fundamental right, it might have come a little too late for the family of the 10-year-old rape victim.

Published: 24th August 2017 09:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th August 2017 09:19 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: With the Supreme Court today declaring privacy a fundamental right it might have come a little too late for the family of the 10-year-old rape victim as her father had to approach authorities seeking protection for his family from the glare of the media after being constantly hounded by reporters.

As the news of the 10-year-old spread in the city and grabbed national headlines with the police arresting the uncle for the alleged crime, media personnel from both television and print media descended on the servant's quarters where the family lived. Initially the victim’s father told the whole story to the media personnel who visited them with the hope that they would get justice.

But soon he got a shock when the media did little to protect the identity of his daughter and gave out identifying details to the public, such as the locality in which she lived and the background of the family that did menial jobs.

the furious father then refused to speak to the media, and left with no option, approached the social welfare department of the Chandigarh Administration asking that the media be restrained, He stated that he did not want any help from anyone including the government but only wants his privacy back. "He had been mentally disturbed by the media glare and by repeatedly being asked the same questions about the sordid details of what happened to his daughter,’’ an official said.

At that time, the victim’s father had said, "Please leave us alone. I beg of you. I want justice for my daughter at any cost and want to see him (the uncle) hanged. What happened to my daughter should not happen to anyone else’s children."

A few members of the media crossed the line by going to his house pretending to be volunteers of a Non Governmental Organization and lying that the NGO wanted to help him and is daughter in their hour of crisis. Believing them, the father in good faith told them everything in detail and the next day he was surprised to see that all the minute details had been published in the papers, sources told Express.

A police official said, "The whole life of the family has changed forever. If there was no such media publicity, it was a normal case and would have died its natural death. The family too would have slowly recovered from the horror but now it will take a long time for them to be normal. They wanted to safeguard their identify so that they would be saved from social stigma but all the details were made public (by the media)."

Even on the day the girl was admitted to hospital for the surgery to deliver the baby, the media hounded the family. The desperate
father called the police to make sure that his daughter and family, who were already facing trauma, is not disturbed. The police kept the media at bay in the hospital.

"We were told by our senior officers not to talk to the media and share any information about this case. A journalist tried to interview the girl pretending that she was a police officer but the investigating officer of the case stopped her,’’ said a police official.

The OB vans of the news channels were present outside the house of the victim’s family. The area had become a hotspot for journalists. Even neighbours came to the rescue of the affected family and shooed away the reporters, asking them not to not disturb the family again. It was a scene straight out of the hindi movie `Peepli Live’.

"The media must exercise complete restraint while reporting sensitive cases like rape and molestation where the future of girl or child is affected due to the coverage. Right to privacy is a fundamental right of everyone in this country, be it poor or rich. If one is powerful, he or she makes sure such coverage is stopped,’’ says Dr Rajesh Gill a leading sociologist, questioning the lack of ethics in the media coverage of a child rape victim.

She added that the media is still haunting the family as they were trying to find out where the newborn child was and whether anyone
has adopted her nor not.

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