On Feb. 7, a side bar of an English newspaper published the story of a mentally unstable woman who was brutalised, raped and murdered in Haryana. The lead was Delhi’s elections – a tight contest between Aam Admi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal and his challenger Kiran Bedi, the chief ministerial candidate for the BJP.
Why a gruesome rape story had to be relegated to the sidelines in the press, anyone looking for news beyond the dance of democracy would ask. After all, the race to the Delhi elections, as with most electoral processes, comprised of nothing but political gimmicks, barbs directed at each other and controversies that would even exhaust a dedicated newspaper reader.
“It’s rape coverage fatigue,” a friend, who also happens to be a new editor with foreign media, said could be the reason behind the story being mostly ignored in the press.
Probably it is fatigue. But the details, despite serving as a reminder of the Nirbhaya case, are unreadable. The woman’s body was found without key organs, and various objects – including a 16 cm-long stick – were inserted into her vagina.
Is it hard to believe that the details didn’t shake a journalist out of his or her fatigue?
But there is still time to locate her family, find out what exactly happened to her and the kind of life she led. She was mentally challenged.
Last month, journalist Arunabh Saikia did just that. In newslaundry.com, he pieced together the story of a three-year-old girl, who was “kidnapped, raped and dumped in a slum” in Delhi. U.S. President Barack Obama was to arrive in the city in less than 24 hours then, he added. Next morning, the rape story managed to find a little spot in the papers.
Saikia visited the hospital, where the girl’s father told him she hadn’t eaten anything since “that day,” except had some milk.
“I hope she eats the porridge,” the man said, standing outside ward No. 5 of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi.
Rohtak is anything but far from Delhi.