Reportage of a different kind
In today’s day and age, where information has become a mere commodity, the art of reporting has become a risky business. The battle with one’s bulging conscience gives rise to an existential turmoil, as we are faced with the mountainous task of segregating information relevant to the mass populous. Every narrative, paragraph, sentence, or word can be tactfully used to allow bias to creep in. It is this predicament that I faced, as I bore witness to an incident, that I believe was worth reporting. However, my intention was to throw light on the situation rather than the singularity of the incident.
A fortnight ago, a group of students gathered at one of the popular student hangouts in Manipal, after the conclusion of an event in their college. The group was decked in ethnic wear, taking selfies and socializing. Amongst the chatter and the merriment, no one realized that they were being filmed. Suddenly, it was noticed by a male student that an outsider, who had successfully managed to mingle in with the group, was using his phone camera to take pictures and videos of the girls present there. Immediately raising an alert, the perpetrator was caught red handed and his cell phone was seized from his possession.
Initially, after a few voices were raised and the trespasser was in tears, it was decided against calling the cops. It was a relief to see the students handle the whole scenario without evoking any self-imposed situational justice.
Talking to one of the students, I enquired why they did not call the cops.“He is a poor guy and if a report is filed, he will lose his job. We deleted the pictures and explained his mistake to him. I don’t know if you noticed though! The girls, whose videos were being taken, were in saris. I wish some of the ‘great minds’ of our countries that propagate draping women in cloth for their safety, could see this,” said the student.
It was unbelievable how he had compressed the whole situation in a few words while bringing out the hypocrisy. It was this answer of his that made me change my purview of reporting this incident. We are in possession of the perpetrators name, his workplace, his ethnicity, his religion, the location of his ancestral hometown etc. It is therefore a conscious decision to not make it public because we don’t want this incident to become another mere statistic. There are but questions that keep on ringing in my head.
Who is to blame here? The perpetrator who thinks it’s okay to defy a woman’s private space just because she is a woman, or the society at large which has methodically groomed such men to believe that it is okay to violate women, in any manner possible? Is this because of the male gender dominance, resultant of the more than five thousand years of patriarchy prevalent in the India? The questions stand.
Rounak Bose is a reporter at The Manipal Journal.
The views expressed in the blog are personal.