It is illegal to reveal the name, address, religion, and face of a crime victim. The 8-year-old girl who was kidnapped, gang-raped and murdered in Kathua hasn’t been paid adequate respect after her death. Her face was photographed in high definition, the crime scene easily traced, her name revealed and spread like wildfire by a select category of the media, and her religion is the center of a whirlwind unrelated controversy.
An eight-year-old, who did not know the centuries old dilemma between Hindus and Muslims, the decades ago division of land between Pakistan and India, has been embroiled postmortem in a debacle viewed globally. How is this a march towards justice? How is the rape of a child the voice of politicians, religion-men, and the displayers of false curtsy?
It seems as if we have learned nothing from the Nirbhaya case, the proclaimed daughter of our nation. The laws and amendments that were created in her name, the surge of pain that we felt for a victim of a heinous crime has dispelled. Now we are left with remnants of desire for seeing a crime reach a justifiable end, to provide solace, to create fear and panic in attempts at criminality. We have now reached a place where we demand action yet do not pause to ponder the immense pain, trauma, and burden the girl and her family has felt.
Our desire for justice has weakened as our need for finding out ‘why’ the crime has happened has surpassed the basic human instinct of pain and empathy. ‘Why’ was the girl raped? ‘Why’ did these men commit such a crime? ‘Why’ does not matter, whether or not the dispute was regarding land or religion doesn’t matter. Simply put, a child was raped. The act of rape is hidden behind the justification for defining a greater purpose. Rape isn’t justifiable.
Rape has no ulterior motive. Rape is a despicable action, a rapist dominates and feels ownership of a body that is not his own. Rape makes the rapist feel powerful, and it has nothing to do with religion or land. Rape is a crime against an innocent person. Creating a back-story to this heinous crime is a distraction; repeatedly giving life to a traumatic event with distorted perspectives is what a select category of media is feeding on.
Cultivation theory is one of the top three theories regarding the psychology of people created by mass media. The hypothesis of this theory is that people tend to believe whatever is shown on the news. News channels target audiences that enjoy chest-thumping, hollering, aggressive anchors that are a medium of everyday personal frustration.
The louder, meaner, aggressive, rude an anchor is, the more negative the news and vivid the back-story, the greater the negativity bias of the viewer. We humans are naturally attracted towards negative news than positive, it gives us a thrill and keeps us engaged. There are so many cases of rape, molestation and murder that are flashed on the television screen as ‘breaking news’, spread throughout a newspaper or displayed on digital media.
A bombardment of despicable news continuously makes the viewers feel fear of the real world, creating a mean world syndrome, the belief that the crime rates are higher than they actually are. Finally it leads to moral panic, fear that some evil community threatens the well-being of society. Moral panic is the end goal created by mass media. Moral panic is what has been created in the Kathua case.
The media has been given the right to influence our minds, swaying us in a direction they deem fit.
Out of all the rape cases, child molestation cases, they choose one and hone into it. The more gruesome the details and bigger the conspiracy, elaborate thickening of a plot, the more we are fed this impunity.
We, the public of India, have created a gloomy and depressive media, we have created our own moral panic. We have done this by supporting the media to speculate and debate about situations we have no first-hand knowledge about, it gives us something spicy to discuss at a gathering and flaunt our pseudo-intellect. Events have become distorted, news is broadcast selectively, and we are washed away in the moral dilemma rather than the judicial accuracy of a case.
The millions of people watching television at home have created a storyline based on a victim they don’t know; we have passed judgment on criminals that may or may not be guilty but are pronounced so before they reach court, about corruption and politics of which we have no primary sources.
We have become armchair auditors, political scientists, communal experts, doctors, activists; but we fail to step out of our homely abode to provide tangible and resourceful help. We have collectively created a convoluted reality and are the fuel to the fire started by the media, we have made ourselves helpless through inaction and are willing fools.
The Kathua case is trending on social media, and many people have stated that they are ashamed to be an Indian, or a Hindu, or part of a specific community or religion.
Selected cases of our nation have been showcased in foreign nations where we scream from the top of our lungs, “this is because of communal violence and we are ashamed to be called Indians!” Many lay citizens follow suit like sheep to a herder, but has anybody paused to see the statistic of rape in India compared to the rest of the world? Our activists have gone to the U.S. and U.K. to cry foul, they have cried foul in front of nations that are in the top 10 rape countries of the world.
Ours is a third world nation, with centuries of oppression, still reeling from colonialism, falsely created discriminatory hate, extreme illiteracy, and dominant patriarchal oppression. Yet the West is touted to be modern, educated, well-bred Caucasians that are the ‘saviors’ of the world, our World Powers, why then are the superior race in the top five list of rape crimes? Why is India a country to be ashamed of? Is it so hard to see that rape isn’t affiliated to the boundaries of land created by humans, or based on the color of your skin?
It is pervasive, it resides in all classes as seen in the #MeToo global campaign, rape happens to children and adults alike, by strangers and trusted people of the victim. So let’s put this mess into context: rapists are self-motivated degenerates and should not define a culture, religion, gender, or nation.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.