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How Rape is Reported Around the World

by on April 29, 2014

As we discussed in class about how to go about reporting on rape stories, it occurred to me that we only focused on how it was reported in the United States. I decided to look into how rape was reported in Somalia and India where this topic is extremely taboo, even more so than in the States. This intense cultural stigma lends to the low rate of women who even come forward about such crimes against them.

The Somali police are not interested in reported sex crimes, and there is a consensus among authorities that is not even considered a “serious” crime. According to an Al-Jazeera article, “Abdalle Muumin, a Somali journalist… said much of the country’s media ignored sexual violence, leading to an enduring stigma faced by rape victims….Another reason why you don’t hear anything about IDP [Internally Displaced Persons]-related news is because editors and media owners are not interested in that. When reporters file news regarding IDPs it is not aired; in fact it’s referred to as shuban biyood [“diarrhoea”].”  The journalist who wrote this piece, Laila Ali, was later arrested for writing this article when she brought up this sensitive subject that is usually swept under the rug. She was released a week later due to international pressures.

When I then looked into how rape was reported on in India, I found that there was a general trend by the Indian media to shift blame onto the victims.  According to the New York Times, “Sexual assault is so common in India that news outlets often use a rubric to go with articles about rape, or reuse an illustration, photo or “bug” whenever a rape story comes up….Often these seem to have a common theme. Instead, almost inevitably, the art to go with a story about rape depicts a “shamed woman.” Sometimes, this woman also happens to be somewhat scantily clad.”

As we can see from both Somalia and India, there is both shame and lack of reporting on rape. I think that we can take a minute to appreciate how we here in America report on it, but keep in mind that we, too, are not perfect in this sensitive area of discussion.



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  1. I think this raises an interesting point in the sense that American media is not perfect in the sensitive area of discussion of rape. As said in class several times, we are a very tame media compared to the rest of the world, and I believe it’s past time to move forward to publish more graphic stories.
    The world we live in today has graphic and controversial events that occur on a daily basis, and it is our job as reporters to make sure the public knows about it.
    I think that to keep this kind of information from the people does no good, in fact it only does harm.

  2. I think it would be interesting to look into countries that perhaps deal with rape and sexual violence stories “better” or more effectively than the US. Of course, it’s no secret that the US is advanced in many ways, but there is a long way to go on this topic in both society and the media. Instead of comforting ourselves with the reminder that we aren’t the worst, finding a role model would be helpful.

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