- Posted January 2, 2013 by
San Diego, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
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Delhi gang rape: Indian media's monetization of rape
The recent rape of a 23 year old girl has shocked not just the rape capital of the country, Delhi, where the crime took place, but also the whole nation. Going by the furor of the protests, one would think rape is a rare event in India. But open any newspaper, any particular day, and you’ll see rape headlines splashed across the tabloids; so many headlines on rape that you’d flip to thinking India was the rape capital of the world.
But the fact is rape is universal - and I’ll come back to that. What is different is the way the media perceives it.
It just happens that rape is considered highly news worthy in India. It sells. Either Indian people seem to like reading about rapes… or the Indian media seems to think Indian people like reading about rapes. Overall, the media accomplishes its goals. It sells its newspapers, but the common man is left with a feeling that the country they live in, the country they take pride in, has reached unlivable conditions, especially for its women.
Let’s now look at American newspapers. You will be hard-pressed to find a single article on rape. One would think rape doesn’t exist in America. But the fact is rape is just as prevalent, and if statistics are to be believed, more common than in India. Here are some facts about rape in America according to the department of justice:
1. Number of women raped in 2007 under the UCR definition: 91,874
2. Number of sexual assaults in 2007–which includes rapes the FBI leaves out–according to the National Crime Victimization Survey: 248,300
3. Dept. of Justice estimate of how many women are actually raped each year: 300,000
4. Number of arrests for rape in 2007 (UCR): 23,307
5. Percentage of rapes that result in incarceration: 0.35 percent
Compare those to the 20,000 odd rapes reported in India each year. Of course a vast number of rapes are not reported, but statistics show that a vast number of rapes are not reported in America as well - more than 60% to be specific. As I mentioned in my previous article, rapes are crimes of shame and shame is universal.
So why do American tabloids rarely report on rape. As mentioned before, it’s probably because rape doesn’t sell as well in America as it does in India. Secondly, it’s almost impossible to report each of those 90,000 odd rapes that take place each year in America.
So why does the Indian media make it a point to report each and every case of rape, on the front page, every day. Let’s thank Bollywood for that. For years, Bollywood has used rape to sell movies. Bollywood rapes provided cheap thrills to its audience in a country where all media was strictly censored, a sexual vent in a society that was as repressed as anywhere in the world. Hence, today we are stuck with a media that thinks that rape sells just as Bollywood rapes sold its movies. Protests in Delhi may bring about a change in law enforcement, but it’s time to also change the mindset of the Indian media. Let’s not make rape a selling point. It’s important to raise key issues in national media, but let’s not over do it for cheap thrills and to sell newspapers.