Protecting the privacy of rape victims and others

A few days back, India Today reported that National Award winning child actor Shweta Basu Prasad was arrested in Hyderabad for allegedly being involved in a prostitution racket. The report further stated that “the actor released a statement in which she said she was out of money and had no other way to support her family,” and also stated that “The police said they have also arrested several well-known businessmen along with the actor.”

THE HOOT reports that “A journalist cannot publish the name of the rape victim in the report. If he does so he will violate the Norms of Journalist Conduct released by the Press Council of India. He will also be prosecuted under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code and maybe punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to pay fine.”

In another case, a model in Mumbai has accused Deputy Inspector General of Police Sunil Paraskar of sexual assault and rape. This report by DNA mentions that the model and Paraskar “had heated arguments over the latter’s alleged closeness to model Poonam Pandey.”

This raises the following questions:

1. Isn’t it reasonable to expect that, until she is convicted, a woman who is allegedly involved in a prostitution racket is treated on par with a rape victim? This means Shweta Basu Prasad’s name should not have been published.

2. While Shweta’s name and details about the films she has acted in have been published, the names of the ‘several well-known businessmen’ who were arrested along with her have not been mentioned. Why this discrimination?

3. In the second case, the complainant’s name has not been revealed, and correctly so. However, why has Poonam Pandey’s name been revealed? Shouldn’t the report have mentioned “the latter’s alleged closeness to another model” or “the latter’s alleged closeness to a rival model”?

4. While the privacy of a rape victim is correctly protected, why is the name of the alleged rapist published? Isn’t it reasonable to expect that he should be treated as innocent until proven guilty? What if he is genuinely innocent and is being falsely implicated?