Written by Madhumitha Dhanasekaran.
Did you know that India is one among the three most dangerous nations in the world for journalists?
For a country that has no separate media laws, since it all comes under Article 19, Freedom of Speech, using that freedom doesn’t necessarily mean that the journalists are free to voice out their opinions. Being a reporter, a journalist in India is difficult. Voicing out for justice or simply voicing one’s own opinion can get them into trouble.
This does not just end with online threats or bad comments; it extends to the level of breaching their security and safety. Though this extends to both men and women, the kind of treatment women receive is entirely different. If the decision to kill a male journalist comes up in 20 minutes, its just 10 minutes for women because our society clearly hasn’t sunk in the fact that women have a voice, a powerful voice.
In the early 1960’s journalism was completely a male job, women were never hired. However, as years passed, and many journalism schools started to appear, women also climbed the ladder. As always, it was difficult, but they did it and became bosses. Though women do everything to prove they are equal, they are never treated the same. The number of rape threats and trolls a female journalist faces every time is unimaginable. We may be in the 21st century but things have worsened in today’s world of WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook.
This is not new; women journalists always have faced challenges. On assignments in crowded areas, women journalists have often complained about being groped, teased, or pinched. From a simple comment on a movie or a start to fight against violence and prejudices, anything women do seems to provoke somebody.
So many journalists in India have lost their lives for voicing out their opinions; it has gone to a point where if you search in Google, “Journalists killed in India”, and you would land on an exclusive Wikipedia page titled the same, also, the page says, “This is not the full list”.
The recent to join the list was Gauri Lankesh, from Karnataka. Unknown assailants shot her to death outside her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar on September 5, 2017, for reasons not yet clear. Gauri has been a staunch critic of the right-wing Hindutva politics. In 2003, she opposed the Sangh Parivar’s alleged attempts to Hinduise the Sufi shrine Guru Dattatreya Baba Budan Dargah, located at Baba Budan giri. In 2012, while participating in a protest-demanding ban on communal groups in Mangalore, she stated that Hinduism was not a religion, but a “system of hierarchy in society”, in which “women are treated as second class creatures”.
Narendra Dabholkar and M. M. Kalburgi are other famous journalists who were shot to death recently, similar to Gauri Lankesh. Just when the whole country was mourning for her death and people were voicing out how journalists in India had no safety, The News Minute’s Editor-in-chief Dhanya Rajendran received a threat in her twitter handle.
The tweet asked her to be “very, very scared”. See the tweet below:
If this is the case for every women journalist, and for anyone who voices out in general, where exactly is the nation going? Are we moving forward or just as fashion and other old cultures that seem to be coming back again, are we moving backwards? To a time where Independence was our longtime dream.