Do’s and Don’ts of media reporting regarding child sexual abuse was highlighted by assistant professor of JNIMS Psychiatry department, Dr L Nelson on Saturday. He advised against re-victimising victims by re-living events while reporting and not to depict them as insignificant.
Dr L Nelson was speaking as a resource person on training and sensitisation of media house and community leaders of all tribes on Child Sexual Abuse cum release of IEC materials held on Saturday at JNIMS’s MS building, Porompat.
It was organised by the department of Psychiatry, JNIMS in collaboration with the department of Justice, ministry of law and justice, government of India.
Explaining details about POCSO Act-offences, punishments, amendment, linkage with other child related legislations, Dr Nelson stressed on media roles and responsibility under POCSO Act, anecdotes.
Dr Nelson said don’t disclose the identity of the victim or the victim’s family; to not sensationalise or glorify acts or sexual abuse or exploitation of children; not to make the child re-live the abuse by asking him or her to recount the abuse or exploitation; not to re-victimise the child by repeated or incessant questioning; not to depict the child as insignificant; not to treat the child as a sexual object; not to glorify either the crime or the offender; not to project the child as powerless or without legal support and not to stigmatise the child family or community.
Instead, in all reporting, keep in mind the best interest of the child, bring the issue of sexual violence against children into the realm of public knowledge and debate, present the issue of sexual violence against children as a serious violation of children’s right and universal human rights, not just an offence against children, he said.
Dr Nelson also called for creating an urge to work together and tackle the problem effectively, ensuring that the human rights of all concerned are respected. Cross check facts or context and circumstances and insist on accuracy, he added.
“When reporting on sexual violence against children, ask yourself if the chid victim and potential child victims benefit from the story and be aware of the possibility of vested interest”, Dr Nelson said.
Don’t forget to report steps taken by the authorities, follow up the case until action is taken to punish the perpetrators, Dr Nelson appealed.
Mentioning some news stories that go on talk about details of the incidents and at times even divulge personal details of the child and the family, Dr Nelson said that it is in complete violation of the principles of confidentiality under POCSO Act, 2012 and Juvenile Justice Act.
According to a study by Min WCD, government of India, Prayas and UNICEF, 2007, among 12,447 children in 13 states, 2 in 3 physically abuse, 88 percent by parents, 65 percent by teachers, 66 percent emotionally abused, 53 percent sexually abused (47 percent girls and 53 percent boys) and 21 percent of all respondents reported severe sexual abuse. 50 percent of abusers were known to the child or in a position of trust or authority. But most children did not report the abuse to anyone.
Explaining about where our system fails, Dr Nelson said that socially, lack of awareness and knowledge of effects of sexual abuse, excessive exposure to sexually explicit materials, image or videos, inadequate child care facilities, deficient school systems and victim blaming and stigmatisation.
Medically, it is lack of awareness and availability of medical protocols or policies, lack of training for medical staff, inadequate documentation of history and findings, chain of custody procedures not followed, medical certificate delayed and incomplete and incorrect language in certificate, he added.
Child sexual abuse prevention measures should be taken up by all stakeholders, children, families and communities, professionals and institutions in both government and civil society, he ended.
Manipur State Legal Services Authority (MASLSA) member secretary, Ojesh Mutum, speaking on the function said that child abuse increases three times, the act or legislature impact requires to be examined.
Talking about customary law, Ojesh Mutum said that no authority is asking one to delete customary law but to change customary law based on the judiciary system of India or Universal law. Most of the time the act or law seems to be violated in the state particularly in elopement cases, he said.
Sharing his thoughts and experiences, Ojesh Mutum questioned whether the law should be able to form a law that would be able to hide the accused until and unless the court announces the verdict.
All Manipur Working Journalist Union (AMWJU) president Wangkhemcha Shyamjai said influence and trolls on social media is becoming high in Manipur, whether it may be victim or accused. It should be controlled in time before it’s too late, he said.
JNIMS director L Deben called for joining hands to create and raise awareness about abuses everywhere in the state.
During the function, Information Education Communication (IEC) materials on child sexual abuse in different tribal language was released.