Call for Action in India After Gang Rape of Journalist02 Apr, 2014
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Indian Journalist Union (IJU) and the All India Newspaper Employees Federation (AINEF) are deeply concerned by the latest incident of a reported gang rape of a journalist in India on Thursday, March 28.
According to reports, a 27-year-old journalist on assignment was allegedly gang-raped by two people in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh, Northern India. The journalist had gone to Asthabhuja temple to research her story on historic temples in Vindhyachal region and was returning hotel late evening when she was abducted, taken to an isolated place, raped by the two assailants and later dumped in a forest area.
The female journalist associated with a Hindi newspaper in Uttarakhand lodged a complaint with the police on Friday. The police have arrested one of the accused and are investigating the case.
The shocking incident came a week after an Indian court found four persons guilty of gang rape of a 23-year-old photojournalist in Mumbai last year. They were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The IFJ, IJU and the AINEF are demanding a thorough investigation so that the rapists are brought to justice quickly.
“The Government should take strong action against the culprits who involved in this heinous crime,” CH Purnachandra Rao, Vice President of the AINEF said in a statement. “We are concerned that the atrocities, harassments, and gang rapes are increasing day by day on women journalists, and some of the state governments are silent spectators. We demand that the government come forward with security plans to curb such type of heinous crime against women journalists.”
This horrific case follows a concerning pattern of incidents in India’s media bringing heightened public awareness about rising cases of sexual violence generally across the country.
At a meeting of its National Executive Committee on the 28th and 29th of March, the IJU condemned the incident, adding that the case was a wake up call for all working journalists and media organisations to take steps to protect the dignity of female journalists in India.
The IJU said: “The incident highlights that women journalists are no longer safe in their profession and that they should be encouraged to speak out against all cases of sexual harassment.”
“The IJU has already appointed a Gender Cell in the Union, headed by its Treasurer and IFJ Steering Committee member Ms Sabina Inderjit and called upon all media organizations, both print and electronic media, to immediately appoint Gender cells and Committee against sexual harassment at their workplaces places as mandated by the Supreme Court guidelines issued in the Visakha case and the Protection of Women at Workplaces Act 2013.”
“Further, the NEC calls upon all the State Unions to expedite the setting up of Gender Cells at the State level and demands the same in all media organizations in their respective States.”
The IFJ said: “The culture of sexual harassment and threat in India continues to endanger women journalists both in the newsroom and out in the field. Gender equity and safety is intrinsic to press freedom and freedom of expression and as long as women journalists’ lives are threatened, there can be no true freedom of the media.”
The IFJ endorses the actions of its Indian affiliates in taking a strict and absolute no tolerance stance against harassment and sexual violence against women journalists in India. That means ensuring the safest possible working conditions for female media workers as they go about their daily duties; campaigns on gender equity and education on sexual harassment; and an independent and robust process for complaints that adequately takes into consideration the need for confidentiality for victims.