Did Sunday People mislead about rape victim’s name?


8:45 am - January 7th 2013

by Sunny Hundal    


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Yesterday the Sunday People newspaper splashed with a world exclusive story: India gang rape victim’s father: I want the world to know my daughter’s name is **** ***** *****.

The newspaper quoted the dead woman’s father as saying: “We want the world to know her real name. My daughter didn’t do anything wrong, she died while protecting herself. I am proud of her.”

The story shot around the world and racked up millions of hits. But the newspaper may not have had permission from the father to reveal her name.

According to Indian law, media outlets cannot publish the name of a deceased rape victim without the permission of her next of kin.

Yesterday the Hindustan Times reported the father as denying that he allowed his daughter to be identified. He said he wanted her name made public only if a law was named after her.

I have only said we won’t have any objection if the government uses my daughter’s name for a new law for crime against women that is more stringent and better framed that the existing one.

I want my daughter to be known as the one who could bring a change in the society and laws, and not as a victim of a barbaric crime.

The Indian media has conspicuously avoided mentioning the dead woman’s name.

The editor of the Hindu newspaper told readers (ht @bananarahmana):

As some of you may know, a foreign newspaper has published the name of the 23-year-old rape victim, apparently with the approval of her father. Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits publication of the name of a deceased rape victim without the permission of her next of kin, lays down a specific procedure by which this permission is to be accorded: it must be given in writing to a welfare organisation or institution recognised by the Central or State governments.

To the best of my knowledge, this procedure, which was introduced into law as an added layer of protection for the victim and her family, has not yet been followed. We respect the father’s wish to go public, if that is indeed what he wants, but unless he states the same in writing in the manner prescribed by statute, The Hindu will continue witholding the name of the victim.

If the Sunday People did in fact reveal her name without explicit consent from her father, that would be a grave breach of journalism ethics.

Update: I don’t think there’s any point pretending the name hasn’t already been published, in the UK at least. We won’t be using it again but the point of this story was to highlight the Sunday People’s actions. I’ve taken the name out now anyway..

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. So Much for Subtlety

If the Sunday People did in fact reveal her name without explicit consent from her father, that would be a grave breach of journalism ethics.

Sorry but what journalistic ethics would it breach? It may be a breach of Indian law. In which case the editor had better not go to Goa this holiday.

Strangely enough, for once, I am with Germaine Greer on this. She said once that it shouldn’t be rape victims that have their name protected, it should be rapists. There is nothing shameful about being a rape victim. We should not treat them as if there was.

Could you not have written this article without using here name?

3. Richard Gadsden

If you think it’s wrong to reveal the victim’s name, then I suggest you amend this posting so as not to reveal her name in the link to the People.

I don’t think there’s any point pretending the name isn’t out already (especially in the UK).
The point is about Sunday People’s actions.

Does it really matter? I don’t understand why rape victims aren’t normally named – surely it’s no different from being a victim of another serious crime?

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 5 Chris

“I don’t understand why rape victims aren’t normally named – surely it’s no different from being a victim of another serious crime?”

Victims of most other serious crimes aren’t frequently ashamed to come forward. People don’t treat you with kid gloves all your life because you were a victim of attempted murder or GBH one time. It’s not equivalent.

Lets not forget.She wasn’t just raped she was murdered. Poor girl

8. Alex MacDonald

Actually the key point is that she was murdered – you can reveal the identity of a murdered person in this country, basically because, well, the dead can’t sue.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262723/Gang-men-groomed-young-girls-sex-drove-terrified-victim-14-woods-night-threatened-cut-head-off.html..i think the indian press and media have every right to question what is going on in are own back yard before we judge them as a soceity.


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