Indian media stoke religious tension over brutal murder instead of focusing on femicide
Issued on: 29/11/2022 – 10:17
The murder and dismemberment of a 26-year-old woman in India in May and the recent arrest of her boyfriend has gripped the nation and media. But instead of focusing on the issue of femicide, a journalist and an activist say that Indian media is using the fact that the victim was Hindu and her alleged killer was Muslim to further polarise the nation. FRANCE 24 correspondents Léa Delfolie, Anida Saifi and Navodita Kumari report.
Shraddha Walkar was allegedly by her live-in boyfriend, who then allegedly cut her body into 35 pieces and discarded them across New Delhi. The boyfriend was arrested on November 12.
Journalist Somya Lakhani is shocked at the insensitivity of Indian covering the case: Rather than sparking a public debate on domestic violence, the horrific murder has taken a political turn because Walkar was a Hindu and her boyfriend is a Muslim.
“The theatrics around this case by the media are appalling and at the same time I think they are just belittling of the woman who has died,” Lakhani said. “It is a at the end of the day. I mean you may want to see it otherwise to suit our agendas, but it is a gender crime.”
Rights activists say the case is being used to target the Muslim community.
“So instead of looking at it as a case of domestic violence and talking about what needs to be done, media is playing a major role in further polarizing the society,” said Shabnam Hasmi, a human rights activist. “It is showing this case as a ‘Muslim versus Hindu case’ and how Muslim boys are luring Hindu women and how they are attacking them and killing them.”
Talking about domestic violence remains taboo in India, but 30-year-old Mubeena, who did not give her last name, agreed to speak to FRANCE 24. Four years ago, her parents married her off to a man they chose. Soon after, her husband began to mentally and physically torture her.
“He really crossed his limits when he threatened me with a knife saying that he’s ‘going to kill me’” Mubeena said. “I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I was afraid that my husband might actually kill me.”
Mubeena was later rescued by her mother.
Almost a third of Indian women have experienced physical or sexual violence, 80 percent of which is caused by their husbands, according to a government survey.
Click on the vidoe player to watch the full report.
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