Respect Sentiments of Fellow Human Beings
The Supreme Court of India has asked the media – the print, electronic, and the social media – to not publish pictures of sexual abuse victims even in blurred and morphed formats in the wake of the alleged rape of over 30 girls at a shelter ran by a state-funded NGO in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, which shook the country. It has also restricted the media from interviewing minor victims of sexual abuse to ensure that they don’t relive the trauma again. The directive came a few months after the Delhi High Court slapped a fine of Rs 10 lakh each on 12 media houses in the country for disclosing the identity of the Kathua gang rape victim.
Well, the media shouldn’t publish photographs of people in their daily lives that could offend them, forget about the victims of rape and violence. It’s a basic journalism ethic, but some overzealous publication houses still cross the line failing to understand the pain and trauma their callous act may cause. The emergence of the internet and mobile phone technology has completely changed the way information is being disseminated to the public. It has enabled people to access news around the world in real time but it also has caused much chaos. Overwhelmed by the freedom of sharing content, many share pictures of gross violence, even dead bodies at accident sites, casually on social media like Facebook and WhatsApp. However, such irresponsible action can hurt the near and dear ones of the victims. Nobody would like to see their loved ones in such circumstances. The sentiments of fellow human beings should be respected. This is the virtue that the apex court wants the people to imbibe. It needs to be followed by both the mainstream media and the public alike.
Those who do not abide by the order of the court shall face consequences: Revealing the identity of minor victims is punishable by a minimum of six month-imprisonment under Section 23 (Procedure for media) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Anyone who reveals the identity of a rape and sexual violence victim can be jailed for a minimum of two years under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code.