Nidhi BadyalMedia, the fourth pillar of democracy plays an important role in highlighting various issues at grass roots level but its role has abruptly transformed with the advent of so many news channels and social media platforms in today’s context. Media whether electronic, print or social strengthens the democratic set up by making things transparent. One of the prioritised area of 21st century has been women empowerment. So many legal provisions, policies, awareness programmes are being conceived and brought in existence on daily basis making role of media very crucial. This can be analysed by a case study. A girl is raped and killed brutally in a remote village. Media highlights the issue but with different angles. Switch to one channel, it will give the background of victim’s family, the other will come out with hidden aspects of victim’s family and finally another channel will break a story that the girl was Dalit and had relations with the culprit. How the image of a rape victim, whose pain was needed to be ameliorated, was spoiled on the lines of caste and religion. At this point what role media can actually play is different from what is being played. Crime against women be it rape, dowry death, molestation, eve-teasing or acid attacks are being reported every day but how different news channels add flavours to the same can’t be neglected. Right to privacy is a basic right which every citizen enjoys but when it came to media they are more interested in highlighting which dress a celebrity wears or what food he or she eats, and how many break ups and affairs they have and what is the culture of Ambanis? Does this news stuff not comes under the ambit of outraging the modesty and dignity of women? Laws are there to safeguard the interests of women but only 20 out of 50 are aware of these. Leave aside the national data, in Sunderbani a small town of District Rajouri, as per official data only 7 cases of crime against women have been registered during 2016 and the data remains 6, 9 and 2 only for 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively. On the contrary, if we go through the newspapers every day news about crimes like rape, murder, molestation, etc are being published but lack of awareness and social stigma stop women to come forward and report the cases. Here comes the real role of media in particular the electronic and social media which has become a strong tool in today’s scenario. Media should highlight the laws, create awareness programmes and bat for policies so that confidence building capacity of women should be enhanced. Every woman is facing verbal exploitation in one way or the other but how many women know that there are laws against verbal abuse also. There are one stop centres where a woman can report such cases. No doubt so many programmes are being launched for women to make them economically independent but due to lack of awareness they are not being implemented at grass roots level. Real empowerment will be done when media and awareness, media and laws, and media and policies shall go hand in hand.
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