Bengaluru woman hacked to death, police and media dub her a ‘temptress’ who deserved it

Media Ethics

Media reports suggested “illicit affair” with her murderer as justification for her murder

 

In yet another crime committed against a woman the blame is shifted on to the woman. A 29-year-old Bengaluru woman was hacked to death in broad daylight right outside her house in Deepanjali Nagar on April 11 and media reports went on to suggest that she was responsible for her own death.

It was around 11.30 am, when 50-year-old Girish attacked Shobha outside her home while she was washing clothes. When a neighbour, Vijayamma, tried to stop him, she too was grievously hurt.

Shobha bled to death before help could arrive, while, Vijayamma is currently recovering at the Victoria Hospital.

Girish, according to Shobha’s family, had been stalking her for the past four months.

Just a couple of hours after the incident occurred, Deputy Commissioner of Police (West), M N Anuchet reportedly spoke to crime reporters, stating that Shobha and Girish were having an “illicit affair”. The damaging statement reportedly made by the police led regional news channels, including Suvarna News and Praja TV, to run special programs highlighting the crime while reporting it inaccurately.

Cartoon by Sylvia Karpagam, Justice for Shobha Facebook page

For instance, one of the channels airing a show on the murder referred to the deceased girl as a “temptress” who lured her attacker with her wiles and abandoned him later. A channel went as far as to suggest that it was because of her that the murderer’s family lost their sole breadwinner.

According to Vinay Sreenivasa from the Alternative Law Forum (ALF), Girish had been stalking Shobha for four months and in this period, she had changed her mobile number thrice because of the harassment.

“Shobha refused his advances and when Girish found out that she was going to get married, he killed her because she said no to him. Girish is married and has two children,” Vinay said.

The channels ran stories based on DCP Anuchet’s statement and claimed that Shobha was the one who had initiated the relationship with Girish. The slandering did not stop there says ALF. Some of the reports said that when she dumped him and decided to get married to another man, Girish killed her in a fit of rage.

Cartoon by Sylvia Karpagam, Justice for Shobha Facebook page

“Why does it matter if a person was or was not in a relationship or affair? A woman was brutally murdered, is that not enough to outrage the media? Why did they blame the victim? The police took four days to nab Girish. Why did the media nor the police blame him? Why did they not point out that he did not understand the word no and still stalked her? We demand accountability,” Vinay said.

The campaigners are demanding a speedy investigation in the case and also public apologies to Shobha’s family members from Suvarna News, Praja TV, Samaya News, Public TV and other channels that aired similar shows.

The family is also demanding a public apology from the DCP and a statement from Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

“We want media channels to abide by the Code of Conduct of the National Broadcasting Association. Men need to be held accountable and responsible for their actions and for violence against women and the media must not justify their actions and neither should the police,” Lekha Adavi from ALF said.

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