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‘Victim blaming’ frenzy continues as NLSIU faces eviction over rape case, police speculates widely, media buys in

Editorial: Bangalore’s police, media and educators have shown themselves at their worst in the past days, appearing intent to keep slinging mud on a law school student who was allegedly the victim of a violent sex crime.

Yesterday Bangalore University (BU) threatened to evict NLSIU Bangalore from its campus that is located on BU’s property, continuing the cycle of ‘victim blaming’ by police and the media, after an NLSIU student was allegedly raped in the BU Jnanabharathi campus forest area that adjoins NLSIU campus last Saturday.

BU has issued a circular as a “warning” to NLSIU that it could face eviction from the land, reported DNA. BU’s registrar BC Mylarappa told the paper: “If they do not correct themselves or continue to fail to keep their students under control, we will consider withdrawing our land provided to NLSIU… We are fed up with the way the students of NLSIU are behaving and also about the bad name our campus is getting because of them. We will not tolerate this anymore and will issue an official notice.” [DNA]

How about you stop tolerating that a rape allegedly took place on your grounds, rather than blaming students for ‘bad behaviour’. Sadly, for the college this approach appears to be easier than acknowledging that it failed to keep its own back garden safe and something terrible appears to have happened on their watch.

That’s not all. Several papers on Monday and yesterday reported an unnamed police source’s speculations that there may be “loop holes” in the case, before a medical report or the investigation was even completed. So, basically the police admit that they have no real idea yet, are just piecing together the evidence but one cop anonymously alleges that he thinks there are gaps in the victim’s story, and the newspapers think it’s a good idea to publish that?

If that wasn’t bad enough, papers choose to ramp this up in their headlines. DNA yesterday ran with “Law student’s rape plaint may be fake, suspect police” as the Deccan Herald’s continued the theme with Gang-rape may have been stage-managed, say police”, with apparently no more evidence than one anonymous cop’s conjecture.

Today, the TOI kept the story going with the campus rape taking a “mystery turn”, with the Times News Network-bylined article describing the alleged victim’s dress as she walked into a police station and writing about biscuit packets. No, unfortunately we’re not making this up. [TOI]

This same apparent editorial bias against women has defined the coverage of several papers right from the get go in this case.

The alleged victim’s complaint goes that she was out with her male friend, who works in an IT major in Bangalore, on Saturday night at around 10 pm when the two were allegedly attacked by up to eight local drunk men who robbed them, hit her friend’s face, and then abducted and raped her. [TOI / DNA]

However, already on Sunday the local police were reportedly quick to play down the allegations citing an absence of injury marks on the victim’s body, despite no full medical examination results having been made available yet. Already then, Deccan Herald and The Hindu were faithfully re-reporting the police’s and other’s victim blaming mindset.

The Hindu wrote:

“Sources at the hospital said that though the girl claimed that she was raped, preliminary examination revealed the girl had no external injuries like the ones usually found on rape victim.

“Upon inspecting the scene of assault, the police said that the spot was covered with bushes and thorns which could have severely injured her body if she was gang-raped. However, there were no visible signs of injuries on her body, said the police and added that they would be able to ascertain if it was a case of rape only after details of the medical report arrive.”

[The Hindu / Deccan Herald]

So, what looks like a snap judgment of anonymous “sources at the hospital” and unnamed policemen shooting their mouth off about thorniness, is apparently good enough to include in a national newspaper.

In this entire episode, the behaviour of media and police, and now of Bangalore University too, has been beneath contempt.

No matter what the facts are in this case, how can other women and men be expected to come forward with allegations of sex crime if the police, media and even educators start throwing the blame back at them in so many words before the case has even been investigated?

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