Why I am furious about the ZeeTV interview of the #DelhiGangRape victim’s friend

Yesterday, Zee TV interviewed the victim of the assault, in which his friend was gang raped. The interview itself contained nothing new, except putting a face to the tragedy. The information was already public apart from the personal expression from the victim’s mouth itself.

Many imagine that the wrong was disclosing the identity of the victim. This wasn’t done, actually. Nor were the details of the rape talked about. What the victim of the assault (friend of the victim of the gang rape and assault) described was everything else. He spoke of how they got on the bus, how the altercation happened, how he got hit, described his injuries, skipped the rape, described how they were dumped on the road, abandoned without help by the citizens and police who arrived late spent time arguing about jurisdiction and the hospital not attending promptly or even giving him something to cover himself. All this is public news, but as the story is now devoid of new masala, the emotion arousing face of a man who actually saw it first hand is a fresh breath of TRPs, to put it very cynically.

It is not about revealing victim identities per se. Many times victims have given media interviews with faces blurred, their family members have spoken to media.

I dislike this practice of milking a story by repeating information in various ways, through what is best described as putting human suffering on exhibition for voyeurs. However, that too is a media reality. My problem is the whole interview itself.

The chargesheet had been filed when the interview happened. The fast track case has its first hearing today. Police have asked for death sentence for the rapists based on the death of the victim. This is what most people want, however India does not have the death sentence for rape yet. It is her death being attributed to the assault that has enabled the police to ask for it within the parameters of the law of the land. The system indeed will face a huge backlash if the rapists don’t get a death sentence.

At the same time, it will be a perversion of our legal system itself to judge a crime by inventing a law that did not exist when it was committed. That is not how the legal system is supposed to work. It sets up a dangerous precedent for the possibility of hyping up a crime enough to rig the punishment criminals get. The police are trying to frame charges as per existing laws, and the charge of murder hinges on the death of the gang rape victim being due to the assault and gang rape.

On the day before the trial begins, you have Zee TV putting what they call the “only witness” on air, talking about everything except the brutality of the rape (thankfully). Instead, he describes the plight of the victim on the road, not helped by citizens. The time wasted by police, the lack of any help offered by them, the callousness of the hospital (the biggest problem the victim fought was infection). He speaks of how the victim should have been taken to a better hospital like Apollo or Fortis instead of one like Safdarjung where facilities may not be adequate (remember, police admit casualties daily – who pays?). In other words, he detailed the role of everyone except the rapists in her death in a most convincing and emotion evoking manner. It clearly blames a lot of people for what the victim (and he) went through – except the rapists – who were outside the scope of the interview.

The trial begins today, where the court is asked to hang rapists for murder. What exactly is Zee TV trying to do here? Of course police are furious! Where are they supposed to ask the much demanded death penalty if channels run media courts condemning their role the day before trial begins? Particularly when the information is already known as well as endless opportunity to air any time later. What does it mean to arouse anger about everyone except the rapists the day before they are on trial for murder?

Sure, many issues need to be addressed. But for me, when I read/see anything in media, I definitely use a filter of “why this, why now”.

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About the Author

Vidyut
Vidyut is a blogger on issues of National interest. Staunch advocate of rights, learning and freedoms. @Vidyut

10 Comments on "Why I am furious about the ZeeTV interview of the #DelhiGangRape victim’s friend"

  1. Hi,
    Though I am a business man in California, I think that you are absolutely right. Every media journalist should change his journalism style. Thanks. Keep it up.

  2. Hi Vidyut,
    I am writing to you on behalf of a women’s magazine. Was wondering if you would like to write for us. Can you please send me your contact details so that we can discuss it further.

  3. Hi,
    I am agree with you. This is very useful quote to all media “I dislike this practice of milking a story by repeating information in various ways, through what is best described as putting human suffering on exhibition for voyeurs. However, that too is a media reality. My problem is the whole interview itself.” Nice you have quoted. Thanks for it.

  4. I hope the Adchoce advertisement on your blog to “Buy Utsav Salwar Kameez” is not way for you to make money,lest it just deflates the very point of argument in your blog!!!!

  5. Zee TV must have felt that the outrage tank was running low so they had to pump it up again with what you very correctly describe on twitter as “pain porn”. Seriously, this was just a sad TRP stunt. In agreement with you on this. Which is why I refused to watch this circus.

  6. The reaction of responsible persons in society to the new revelations made is adequate response to this blog. I was happy Zee did the story. It helps prevent the story from fading away, which is what the govt wants.

  7. You. have pointed out everything that was right with the interview

  8. “The interview itself contained nothing new, except putting a face to the tragedy.”

    NOT true..

    ” he describes the plight of the victim on the road, not helped by citizens. The time wasted by police, the lack of any help offered by them, the callousness of the hospital. He speaks of how the victim should have been taken to a better hospital like Apollo or Fortis instead of one like Safdarjung where facilities may not be adequate (remember, police admit casualties daily – who pays?). In other words, he detailed the role of everyone except the rapists and government in her death”

    Isn’t this new information? Isn’t the callousness of the place, the shocking apathy of the public & hospital staff something to think abt?

    Like a news headline put it “how Zee did the right thing by doing the wrong”. Frankly I think we are still waiting for a lot more info to come out. The girls name, photo, abt the secret funeral. The story is hardly dead. I think protests are STILL ON. Yes, some ppl hv still not abandoned the cause & the movement.

  9. I dont know about Zee TV, at least the victim was trying to say not only the rapist are the culprits but people who did not come out and help, police who took two hours to admit them in the hospital and the hospital karamchaaris who took further time to finally start treating are culprits as well. Today you will pass the death sentence to the rapist, but what about the silent bystanders who are seeing the ‘tamashaa’. When is this going to change? When is the attitude going to change. These are the question which the victim is trying to ask and evoke in us.

  10. i thought it was a long overdue reality check. i have worked in this system for a long time on VAW and the one hopeful sign is that people are talking (repetitively even) and giving visibility to something that has remained in silent storage forever as far as women are concerned. You’re right it’s not about a “rape”, its about the context within which rape happens, a culture of silence and non-accountability- that’s why this interview was so remarkable for women like myself who have been part of a women’s movement, when 20years ago no one talked with us or stood with us. Today, its the youth, the men and yes, electronic media (with all its limitations) that is making what affects the daily lives of half the population a mainstream concern. I salute this young man

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