India, as a country is pigeonholed into a rape country due to the high number of rape cases. (In the month of January, year 2018, a small girl child aged about 8 years, was forcibly abducted, drugged, sexually assaulted in a remote village, named Kathua, situated in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir ).The rape and murder was of brutal nature because of which it attracted public outcry and national and international news coverage. Rape is not uncommon in India but this particular rape case became commonly known as Kathua rape because of national interest and importance. In 2015 the total number of rape cases that were reported across the country was 34,651 making India the most unsafe country for women in the world. Publics understanding about rape is formed by media, hence analysing newspapers is important. Newspapers can both bolster and mirror cultural Myths and beliefs (Koran and Efrat, 2004). People’s basic understanding of crime is formed and framed by newspapers, most of the time, as most individuals, mentioned by the newspapers, are not victims or criminals personally. Mass media in India has been changing rapidly and it has gone through a massive change in the last two decades.
Mass media is assisting in the process of building and communicating cultural influences in public sphere.People often believe that whatever they read in newspaper is true hence the media plays an important role in projecting images. Newspapers depiction of crime affects the public’s attitude and understanding.
The Print Media, that is, newspapers generally, create, built-up, explain and reflect the way public understands rape as a crime. It is mostly important to study and research how media displays cruelty against women because concerns like the nuances of the language used and the processes of deciding what is included and what is excluded does not just carve the recipients view of the world but also influences their actions and attitude in lives in a palpable way (Meyers,1997).This study seeks to understand and analyse how the Kathua rape case was reported in a major Indian newspaper? What are the different frames that were present in the coverage? These questions will be explored in this paper with content and framing analysis of relevant text from a major and leading in circulation and readership Indian newspaper, The Times of India.
In the month of January 2018, dated 10th, the news spread like wildfire that a small child, aged around eight, belongs to Nomadic tribe, Asifa Banu was missing in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir’s remote village Kathua. After a week long painful search resulted in finding her body by the villagers and when the body was examined and the autopsy report confirmed that the child was subjected to brutal gang rape and murder (Nayak Dutta, 2019). Asifa Banu belonged to a Nomadic Muslim tribe, Bakherwal . The Bakherwal often traveled around the forest near Kathua which is a Hindu majority city in the region (Wallen, 2019). A four month long police investigation found that the minor was kidnaped , held captive, drugged, starved and sexually assaulted, repeatedly raped for a almost more than seven days in a sacred place, Hindu temple before she was strangled and battered to death with a stone (Zargar ,2018).
When Asifa was grazing her cattle and horses in a grassland, a boy persuaded her into the forest and once she followed, he caught the girls neck and forcefully made her take sleeping pills and raped her in the jungle after which he took her to the temple (Devasthan or Mandhir in local language) where she was locked, sedated in a empty stomach and raped again and again by three men for four days. The victim was mutilated to an extent that her uterus was injured but the viciousness did not come to an end. But, in the end one person still wanted to rape her one last time and then she was strangled and bludgeoned to death with a rock, this was done to make sure she was dead (Parashar,2018). According to the fifteen page charge sheet the rape and murder of the eight year old was a carefully pre-planned strategy to remove the minority Muslim community from the area as few Hindu farmers complained about their land and resources being used and stolen, so to terrorise the minority Muslim community the child was targeted so that the Bakherwal would leave due to fear factor .
After charges were slapped and charge sheets were filed against eight people belongs to Hindu community, the story of Kathua child abuse, rape and murder created global headlines (Dhaliwal 2019). All the eight men accused were arrested and out of that eight two were police officials who were also involved and taken active part of the heinous crime. Kathua rape case was sensationalised and also was known by the name of victim Asifa Banu, thus imprinted and expressed as Asifa Banu rape case .