RIUJ for caution on reporting of rape cases
ISLAMABAD: The Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) appealed to the media not to overplay the issue of a five-year-old rape victim. In a statement on Tuesday, it was said certain ethical lines about the coverage of rape cases should be followed, particularly if a minor is involved. The newly-elected body of the RIUJ led by its President Afzal Butt appealed to political parties not to politicise the issue by visiting the victim. Instead, they should raise pressure for the arrest of the accused in the parliament, he added. “Such cases need to be covered with utmost care and family consent must be sought,” the statement said.
The statement said the media hyped the issue, which perhaps did not help the child’s case but, on the contrary, added to her family’s trauma. The RIUJ said some of the newspapers had even published the photograph of the victim while some channels, including the state-owned PTV and print media also disclosed her name. All this was the violation of the ethical code. The RIUJ believes that all editors and director news must play their role and programming heads must also handle the story with care. The case should not be used for “ratings”, the statement said.The RIUJ wondered whether TV channels had any SOPs or not, regarding the coverage of such heinous crimes. How much coverage was required for such stories and how they should be treated whether it’s a 5-year-old from Lahore, 13- year-old from Faisalabad or 14-year-old from Sanghar.
The RIUJ appealed to the Pakistan Broadcasters Association, PBA, All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and all director news of TV channels and professional editors to urgently agree on certain SOPs for the coverage of such events. The RIUJ suggested that the news channels and print media must keep in mind the impact of such stories on a society, particularly on children. Merely putting a parental guidance (PG) sign and asking children not to watch such programmes may not help much, the statement said. Instead, the coverage should be reasonable. Secondly, the selection language should also be kept in mind. Thirdly, everyone including the police should know that a five-year-old child could not record her statement or tell her stories.
The statement said the news should not be missed and there was also no doubt that it was a heinous crime, however, the problem was with the coverage like in Sikandar’s case. The statement asked whether the family’s consent to air their story was sought as they were the victims and for them it was an unending trauma. It also asked whether showing the child’s visuals time and again was necessary. The RIUJ said they would soon call a meeting of senior journalists, editors and owners from the print and TV channels to address the issue of the coverage of such sensitive cases. Online