Rape reporting and rhetoric

In today’s New York Times, there is an article about the trial and conviction of five men who gang-raped a photojournalist, and other women, at an abandoned mill in Mumbai.  According to the reporters, the men had used the mill on several occasions, communicating with one another that “the prey has arrived.”

As I reached the concluding paragraphs of this article, I was utterly perplexed. The journalist had previously introduced both Mr. Ansari and Mr. Jadhav as two of the five men who used the abandoned mill as a gang-rape site. Yet the article ends by presenting their plights, evidently to curry the reader’s sympathy. Here is the text:
“Outside the courtroom, the wife of Salim Ansari, who is in his late 20s and has two young children, reached into a cloth bag and produced a small metal box containing rice and meat. Mr. Ansari’s son Saadiq, 10, threw himself at his father’s legs, pummeling and biting him, while Shaafiq, 6, scraped bits of plaster from the wall with a finger.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Mr. Ansari told his wife, taking a liter bottle of a mango drink that she had brought. “Our family is your responsibility.”

Vijay Jadhav, another of the defendants, sat on a wooden bench at the back of the courtroom and wept into a handkerchief because no one from his family had come to see him. A police officer, who guarded him, advised him to be patient.

“There is no one to see if I’m dead or alive,” Mr. Jadhav said.

What is this rhetoric about, and what is its  effect? I recall a similar storyline used about the Steubenville rape case, and the television journalist who concluded her segment by asking what was to become of the young  men and their promising futures in the wake of the rape they had committed.  What is the perverse message being communicated about sexual violence and its legacies?  Who are these journalists portraying as the victims of these bloody acts of gang rape?


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