Monday, December 6, 2010

'Sensitive reporting of child sex abuse must'

'Sensitive reporting of child sex abuse must'

First Published : 03 Dec 2010 02:34:48 AM IST
Last Updated : 03 Dec 2010 10:51:58 AM IST

CHENNAI: A panel discussion on the role of media in shaping opinion on sexual violence against children unanimously called for increased sensitivity to the issue among both journalists and civil society. The panelists called for strong legislation to punish media outfits that pushed the boundaries of sensitive reportage, while also calling on civil society to express themselves in ways that would pressure the government to react decisively to incidents of child sexual abuse.

Noted Tamil writer and columnist Gnani blamed the inability of the Indian society to deal with matters of sexuality for the lack of discourse or proper reaction to instances of child sexual abuse. "We are supposed to be conservative, when we are actually perverted and voyeuristic. Till we deal with sexuality, how can we address sexual abuse?" he asked. He also pointed out that the disturbing trend of parents dressing their children up like glam dolls could be one of the triggers for molestation.

The New Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Aditya Sinha on the other hand called for the enforcement of ethical commitments by media organisations. "Only one news organisation in the country has a publicly stated code of ethics. Stringent legislation is required to check insensitive publication of sexual crimes against children, as media outfits have demonstrated they cannot regulate themselves," said Sinha.

Nilanjana Bose, Features Editor of CNNIBN, said though some media houses were making attempts to be responsible, there was little feedback from the public through regulatory bodies, such as the National Broadcasters' Association.

Every member of the panel though, agreed on the need to sensitise journalists to the precariousness of victims of sexual violence against children. The panel discussion, organised by Tulir, an organisation fighting child sexual abuse, also featured Times of India Metro Editor Arun Ram and media critic Sevanti Ninan. Legal scholar Geeta Ramaseshan moderated the discussion.

1 comment:

  1. There has been a recent and similar call for more sensitive portrayal of gays and sex workers by the media. This panel discussion mentioned in this blog also called "for increased sensitivity to the issue among both journalists and civil society".

    My view is that the quoted phrase is the key one. Activists tend to be short-sighted in calling for greater sensitivity to THEIR cause. The emphasis should be on being sensitive to the issue of human dignity, and that concern for Children, victims of trafficking, people living with HIV/AIDS, dowry deaths, etc. arises from this.