Ethical Questions Raised as Molestation of Young Indian Girl is Captured on Camera


The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins partners and

affiliates in India in calling for full disclosure of the circumstances in

which a shocking incident of the public molestation of a young girl by a mob of

more than twenty men was captured on video camera by a news channel reporter.


Video images of the incident, which occurred late evening on July 9 in

the city of Guwahati in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam, soon went

viral on the web, provoking mass public outrage and questions over the role of

the news reporter in the incident.


The Journalists’ Union of Assam (JUA), a constituent unit of the

IFJ-affiliated Indian Journalists’ Union (IJU) has reacted sharply to the

incident, and called on all journalists to “adhere to the norms of journalistic

conduct set by the Press Council of India and International Federation of



“Journalists are members of civil society and it is their duty to

observe decency and not be mere spectators when they encounter any preventable

crime”, said JUA President Geetartha Pathak. “Media persons should understand

that human lives and honour are more important than increasing television

ratings or circulation”.


The IFJ has learned

that human rights groups in Assam state have analysed the entire video recording

of the incident and concluded that a reporter with the NewsLive channel may

have provoked and instigated the attack. There are reports that the video

features some of the twenty strong mob striking a pose for the camera and at

least one occasion when the camera focuses on the face of the victim and a

microphone is thrust forward and inquiries are made about her name and

identity. Perpetrators of the crime are also seen brushing the hair off the

victim’s face so that her identity could be captured on camera.


The news channel

management has defended the reporter’s conduct, on the grounds that his video

footage has helped local police in identifying the perpetrators of the crime. The

management claims that the reporter happened to be passing by the area at the

time of the incident and reacted as any newsperson would, summoning the sole

cameraman on duty at the news channel’s nearby office.


The reporter has

since resigned from his job with the channel, which is owned by a powerful

local politician and minister in the Assam state cabinet.


“We are shocked and

distressed at this incident and extend our solidarity to the victim as she

seeks to recover from the trauma”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific. “We call on all

concerned journalists to join the public debate that arises from this



“The pervasive spread

of new digital technologies and the rapid and largely unregulated growth of the

visual media, make a full and authoritative restatement of the norms of

journalistic conduct in situations involving crime and the violation of basic

human rights, an absolute imperative”.





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