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Delhi gang-rape: Will victim's real name kill the real cause?

Dailybhaskar.com   |  Jan 07, 2013, 14:48PM IST
New Delhi: As the massive outcry over the brutal gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi refuses to subside, UK tabloid has triggered a debate whether victim's identity should be revealed or not.
 
As some of you may know, a British newspaper has published the name of the 23-year-old rape victim with the "permission of her father". Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, which prohibits the publication of the name of a deceased rape victim without the permission of her next of kin, prescribes a specific procedure by which this permission is to be accorded: it must be given in writing to a welfare organisation or institution recognised by the Central or state governments. 
 
To the best of our knowledge, this procedure, which was presumably introduced into law as an added layer of protection for the victim and her family, has not yet been followed. We respect the father’s wish to go public but unless he states the same in writing in the manner prescribed, one should be bound by the statute to continue withholding the name of the victim.
 
We at Dailybhaskar feel no matter what, the victim's identity should not have been disclosed. Till when it was not done, one could easily connect with the victim, feeling she could have been their sister or daughter. 
 
People have been braving bone-chilling weather since December 16 -- the day when the girl was sexually assaulted on a moving bus by six men -- to protest at Jantar Mantar. But now the cause seems to be getting diluted.
 
For weeks, protesters and newspapers has been using a series of symbolic names to refer to the student who died from the injuries inflicted on her during a brutal gang-rape. One network called her the Braveheart; another called her Amanat (Treasure). That’s because Indian law prohibits making public the names of victims of rape. The Indian press, which has reported extensively on the victim’s family, friends and hometown, has taken great care to obscure any details that may identify her.
 
Now some are questioning why. Minister of Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor wondered aloud on his popular Twitter feed what, exactly, the purpose was of keeping the victim’s name shrouded in secrecy. “Why not name&honour her as a real person w/own identity?” he wrote on Jan. 1. “Unless her parents object, she should be honoured & the revised anti-rape law named after her. She was a human being w/a name, not just a symbol.”
 
 
Spurning the claims that he had allowed his daughter's name to be disclosed, the victim's father has clarified that his daughter's name could only be used if the government wanted to christen the new anti-rape legislation in her memory.
 
He categorically denied that he allowed his daughter to be identified after a British paper revealed her name. Her identity should be made public only if a law was named after her, he told Hindustan Times. 
 
"I have only said we won't have any objection if the government uses my daughter's name for a new law for crime against women that is more stringent and better framed that the existing one," he said. 
 
"I want my daughter to be known as the one who could bring a change in the society and laws, and not as a victim of a barbaric crime," he told HT.
 
The Sunday People, the Daily Mirror's Sunday edition, quoted the father as saying, "We want the world to know her real name. My daughter didn't do anything wrong, she died while protecting herself. I am proud of her."
 
The tabloid, which put his picture and that of his family on its website, interviewed him in his ancestral village in Ballia in Uttar Pradesh. The report also named the father and the two brothers.
 
Though the father shared the family album with them, he asked them not to carry the victim's picture, the report said.
 
"Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter," the Sunday People quoted the father as saying.
 
His daughter, who was training to be a physiotherapist, was raped and brutalised by six men on a moving bus and then thrown off it. She died of her injuries on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.
 
(With inputs from Time World)
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