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On December 16, 2012 a 23 year old female was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi. We systematically reviewed professional online media sources used to inform the timing, breadth of coverage, opinions and consistency in the depiction of events surrounding the gang-rape. We searched two news databases (LexisNexis Academic and Factivia) and individual newspapers for English-language published media reports covering the gang-rape. Two reviewers screened the media reports and extracted data regarding the time, location and content of each report. Results were summarized qualitatively. We identified 534 published media reports. Of these, 351 met our eligibility criteria. Based on a time chart, the total number of reports published increased steadily through December, but plateaued to a steady rate of articles per day by the first week of January. Content analysis revealed significant discrepancies between various media reports. From the 57 articles which discussed opinions about the victim, 56% applauded her bravery, 40% discussed outrage over the events and 11% discussed cases of victim-blaming. The global media response of the December 16th gang-rape in India resulted in highly inconsistent depiction of the events. These findings suggest that although the spread of information through media is fast, it has major limitations.
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Media coverage of violence against women in India: a systematic study of a high
profile rape case
BMC Women's Health Sample
Mark Phillips (
Fargol Mostofian (
Rajeev Jetly (
Nazar Puthukudy (
Kim Madden (
Mohit Bhandari (
ISSN 1472-6874
Article type Research article
Submission date 11 August 2014
Acceptance date 5 January 2015
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(2015) 15:3
Media coverage of violence against women in India:
a systematic study of a high profile rape case
Mark Phillips
Fargol Mostofian
Rajeev Jetly
Nazar Puthukudy
Kim Madden
Mohit Bhandari
Department of Life Science, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, McMaster University,
293 Wellington St. N, Suite 110, Hamilton, ON L8L 8E7, Canada
Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
Corresponding author. Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics,
McMaster University, 293 Wellington St. N, Suite 110, Hamilton, ON L8L 8E7,
On December 16, 2012 a 23 year old female was gang-raped on a bus in Delhi. We
systematically reviewed professional online media sources used to inform the timing, breadth
of coverage, opinions and consistency in the depiction of events surrounding the gang-rape.
We searched two news databases (LexisNexis Academic and Factivia) and individual
newspapers for English-language published media reports covering the gang-rape. Two
reviewers screened the media reports and extracted data regarding the time, location and
content of each report. Results were summarized qualitatively.
We identified 534 published media reports. Of these, 351 met our eligibility criteria. Based
on a time chart, the total number of reports published increased steadily through December,
but plateaued to a steady rate of articles per day by the first week of January. Content analysis
revealed significant discrepancies between various media reports. From the 57 articles which
discussed opinions about the victim, 56% applauded her bravery, 40% discussed outrage over
the events and 11% discussed cases of victim-blaming.
The global media response of the December 16th gang-rape in India resulted in highly
inconsistent depiction of the events. These findings suggest that although the spread of
information through media is fast, it has major limitations.
Delhi, Gang-rape, Media coverage
On December 16th, 2012 a 23-year-old female student was the victim of a gang-rape on a
moving bus in Munirka, South Delhi. The victim and her boyfriend had boarded the bus
around 9:15 PM, where the six men on the bus, including the driver, attacked them. The
boyfriend was physically assaulted while the female student was gang-raped (i.e. the female
was raped by several males) before being thrown out of the moving bus approximately 45
minutes later in Mahipalpur- a neighborhood in New Delhi [1]. The accused then attempted
to run over the woman and her boyfriend as they fled in the bus [2]. The woman and her
boyfriend were rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) before the
female victim was transferred to Safdarjung Hospital in South Delhi. Doctors commented
that the victim suffered from serious injuries to her face and head, and was in serious
condition [3]. On December 19th, the woman had undergone her fifth surgery to remove
damaged intestine. She was still in critical condition, yet stable [4]. On December 26th, 2012,
the woman was transferred from Safdarjung Hospital via aircraft [5] to Mount Elizabeth
Hospital in Singapore, where her health status was deemed to be deteriorating due to severe
organ failure. Her major injuries included lung and abdomen infection as well as brain injury
[6]. The woman eventually succumbed to her injuries and died of multiple organ failure on
December 29th, 2012 [7]. The woman’s body was brought back to Delhi later that day via
chartered airplane [8]. She was cremated almost immediately after her return to India on the
morning of December 30th in order to avoid a large media presence at the event [9]. The
news of this event spread throughout the world, resulting in protests against the current
treatment of women and laws against rape in India [10].
Protests and demonstrations were held to pay respects to the victim and bring attention to the
mistreatment, rape and degradation of women in India. The protests turned violent in India,
and resulted in the death of a police officer who was working to control a crowd of protestors
in Delhi. There was controversy over the cause of the officer’s death, although witnesses
have stated that he was attacked and beaten by a small group of protesters [11]. The
demonstrations spread globally and included a protest in Toronto, Canada [12] and
Melbourne, Australia [13].
Media is a tool of mass information spread to the global community when an event such as
this occurs [14]. Media professionals must understand their ability to aid in the shaping and
development of an appropriate response to situations within health-related fields [15]. The
information of this particular rape case in South Delhi was spread world wide in a matter of
days through the professional media. Previous research that analyzes the dissemination of
information throughout professional media has not studied instances of violence against
women as the event that triggers the media spread. Social movements are capable of
providing transformation of current cultural aspects, particularly when a crisis arises that
results in a rapid uprising. Media’s presentation of controversial events provides numerous
tools in which individuals are drawn to the social movement, making media a major tool in
the development of social movements [16]. It is important to understand how the spread of
media information affects social movements after a rape event within the local and global
population, as previous reports suggest that media plays a crucial role in social movements
and the formation of global protests [17]. A thorough understanding of media’s role in the
spread of information regarding rape and other women’s health issues as a spark for social
movements is valuable in aiding in current and future women’s health movements,
The objectives of this systematic review of professional media sources are to inform and
visually represent media’s role in spread of the information from a local to a global scale,
using the December 16, 2012 gang-rape in Delhi as a case example, and outline the
capabilities that media possess to spark social movements regarding policies to protect
women. The report also provides a content analysis of information distributed by the media
regarding this specific rape case.
This study applies the methods of a systematic review to examine media coverage of the
gang-rape in Delhi.
Data source
We used two comprehensive databases (LexisNexis Academic and Factivia) to conduct this
media analysis. These databases provided large online collection of sources and included a
comprehensive search function similar to journal databases like Pubmed. LexisNexis search
functions includes over 350 full newspapers, legal proceedings and company information
( Factivia database provides access to
newspaper, television and radio transcripts, web and blog content, profile for companies and
photographs. ( We adapted previously published
methodology in our search strategy [15].
Search strategy
Two reviewers piloted a preliminary electronic search using a variety of relevant search
terms, and selected 5 media reports that were appropriate to the topic. Key terms were
identified from these media reports and used to develop our main search strategy (Table 1).
Table 1 Search strategy
Search sources/databases Search terms Search strategy
Local Delhi Television 1. 23 year old 1 and 2 and 7
Business Standard CNN 2. Bus 1 and 2 and 8 and 10
Hindustan Times NDTV India 3. December 1 and 6 and 7
India Today CBC 4. December 16 2 and 4 and 7
Tehelka BBC 5. December 2012 2 and 6 and 10
Zee News CTV 6. Delhi 2 and 6 and 7
Indian National CityTV 7. Gang rape 4 and 6 and 10
The Times of India Global 8. India 4 and 6 and 7
The Hindu Europe 9. Medical Student 4 and 9 and 7
Canadian National BBC World News 10. Rape 5 and 6 and 10
Globe and Mail Other/Social Media 11. South Delhi 5 and 6 and 7
The National Post Blogs by professional newspapers 12. Student 6 and 10 and 12
Huffington Post Newspaper Databases 6 and 7
United States LexisNexis Academic 7 and 11
Washington Post Factiva
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
USA Today
We searched the electronic newspaper databases LexisNexis Academic and Factiva for
relevant media reports that were published from December 6, 2012 to January 7, 2013, using
a combination of the identified search terms (Table 1). Additionally, we conducted a manual
search of several newspaper and television websites using the same search terms. One
reviewer conducted the systematic search of media reports.
Inclusion and exclusion criteria
Newspaper articles, online television videos, webcast, blogs and other forms of professional
media were included if they fulfilled at least one of the following criteria: 1) description of
the events, 2) rape victim’s condition, 3) rape victim’s death, 4) protests as a consequence of
the event, 5) testimonies of events from victim, witnesses or the accused. Additionally all
media reports included were in the English language published from December 16, 2012 to
January 7, 2013. Professional media is defined as any source of news produced by trained
journalist and accredited to a licensed broadcaster. Only English sources were chosen
because of the authors’ inability to interpret or translate sources in other language sources.
English is a very commonly used language for international articles, which is why we felt that
the inclusion of only English articles would be sufficient.
Media reports were excluded for one or more of the following reasons: 1) Focus not on the
specific gang-rape in New Delhi, 2) Focus on police conduct 3) Focus on the trial/ court case,
4) Focus on government response to the events, 5) Focus on suicide of the accused, 6) Social
media sources authored by non-professional sources 7) Focus only on emotional response or
opinion of family and friends of victim. We refrained from inclusion of police conduct and
information regarding the trial and court case because it was not directly related to the events
of the gang-rape and introduced dimensions of what is considered criminal justice, which was
beyond the scope of this study. The trials began on January 7
, 2013. This is also the reason
for our timeline ending on the aforementioned date.
The focus of this study was on published professional media, thus social media sources and
any media reports not authored by professional journalists were excluded. Additionally, we
identified that most articles after January 7, 2013 did not focus on the events of the December
16, 2012 event, thus all we limited our search to date range from December 16, 2012 to
January 7, 2013.
Two reviewers independently screened the media reports for inclusion based on the title and
full-text using the above eligibility criteria. We resolved all disagreements by a consensus
process that required the reviewers to discuss their rationale for their decision. If consensus
could not be reached a third reviewer (another author) was consulted. In the case of exact
duplicate media reports with differing dates of publication, the earlier publication was
included, due to the time sensitive nature of this research. Additionally, if a duplicate report
appeared but from different sources both media reports were included.
Data collection and data synthesis
Reviewers abstracted information on each media report using an a piori data abstraction form
created by one of the authors of the study. The forms included the following headings: the
date and time of publication, the media source and its location focus, which included regional
(i.e. Delhi), national (i.e. India), or continental (i.e. Indo-Asia) coverage in some cases.
All included media reports were then assessed by the reviewers and grouped based on
location, date (converted to India Standard Time (IST) for consistency) and theme. The
theme categories were determined a priori, and included: 1) Description of event, 2) Victim’s
health condition/ medical decisions, 3) Protests as a result of the event, 4) Testimonies
(victim, victim’s friends, witnesses, accused or family member), 5) General public’s response
to the event (excluding protests).
These grouping categories were then used to analyze the media reports for content and their
sources of evidence. The reports in each theme category were compared for similar content,
representation of events and sources of evidence use to support claims. The results were then
reported using descriptive statistics (frequency and percent of reports which shared these
Additionally, a visual map of the transfer of information from December 16, 2012 to January
7, 2013 was created. This map is based on an online tool called the “Harassmap” created in
Egypt to track cases of sexual harassment [18]. Number of media reports from each location,
the date and time of first publication for each location category were represented on a world
map, to show transfer of information from local Delhi to international news sources. For
news reports that did not report time of publication, attempts were made to contact editors
and authors. If no time of publication was determined, papers were reported based solely on
the date. Additionally a histogram of the number of news reports daily from December 17th,
2012 to January 7th, 2013 was created. The cumulative number of reports since December
17th, 2012 was also plotted.
Assessment of agreement
We conducted inter-rater agreement for title/full text screening step using a weighted kappa
(κ) statistic. We decided a priori that Cohen’s κ values of less than 0 were rated as less than
chance agreement; 0.01-0.20, slight agreement; 0.21-0.40, fair agreement; 0.41-0.60,
moderate agreement; 0.61-0.80, substantial agreement; and >0.80, high agreement [19]. All
agreement analyses were conducted using SPSS v.18.0 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA).
Search results
Our media search identified 534 potentially relevant citations and 351 total media reports
were relevant for inclusion (Figure 1). 171 media reports did not meet our inclusion criteria
and 12 media reports were duplicates. Inter-rater agreement was fair for the title and full text
screening stage (κ = 0.50, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 0.436-0.558).
Figure 1 Screening flow diagram.
Characteristics of reports
From the 351 included media reports; 26 were categorized as description of event, 112 as
description of victim’s health conditions or medical decisions, 134 as description of protests
as a result of the event, 24 as testimonies (victim, victim’s friends, witnesses, accused or
family member), 55 as general public’s response to the event (excluding protests).
Reports in the media were most prevalent within India, and the following frequencies are the
percentage of reports that originated in each region: Delhi (115/351, 32.8%), the rest of India
(98/351, 27.9%), the United States (51/351, 14.5%), Canada (42/351, 12.0%), the United
Kingdom (28/351, 8.0%), Asia (13/351, 3.7%), Australia (3/351, 0.8%), and France (1/351,
0.3%) (Figure 2). We identified the first report of the incident to be published by The Hindu,
a national newspaper in India, on December 17, 2012 at 9:28 IST [20]. Following this
incident report, local Delhi reports, reports in Asia, France, UK, Australia and then North
American countries ensued. By December 18, 2012 the events had gained global recognition.
Figure 3 depicts the number of reports published daily over the time from December 17th,
2012 to January 7th, 2013. Three spikes in publication occurred. The first spike occurred
from December 17th, 2012 to December 19th, 2012 (71/351, 20.0%). The next spike of
publications occurred from December 22nd, 2012 to December 25th, 2012 (77/351, 21.9%).
The final spike of reports occurred from December 28th, 2012 to December 31st, 2013
(98/351, 27.9%). We identified a steady increase in reports and a plateau by the first week of
January, 2013 (Figure 4).
Figure 2 Global distribution of media reports following events of December 16, 2012.
Figure 3 Histogram on the number of reports published daily from December 16, 2012
to January 7, 2013. N/A represents reports without a publication date.
Figure 4 Histogram on the number of cumulative reports published from December 16,
2012 to January 7, 2013.
Incident reporting by media
Content analysis of 26 articles describing the events of the attack reported various details.
Ten reports (44%) stated that the victim was assaulted by an iron rod, and her boyfriend was
beaten. She was subsequently thrown from the bus (reported by 40%). Reports (20%)
indicated the victims were robbed. The accused reportedly attempted to run over the victim
(16%). Three reports state that the accused attempted to erase the evidence by washing the
bus. From the three reports that indicate a time for the events, one report states that the victim
was found at 9:15 pm on December 16 [21] while 2 reports indicate she boarded the bus at
9:45 pm [22,23]. The sources of evidence for these reports also varied. From the total, 20
articles provide sources for their evidence. Police statements or police reports are used by
90% of these articles, while 10% use claims from physicians to report on the victim’s
There are 24 reports that showcase testimonies from the victim, her boyfriend and her family.
Twelve reports discuss the boyfriend’s testimony and TV interview. In 66% of reports he
describes that a bystander showed apathy when their bodies were discovered. He is quoted
saying, "[passersby] slowed down, looked at our naked bodies and left," [23]. He also
criticized the speed of response by the police (6/12, 50% of reports). Four reports discuss the
family’s response. The father wishes to have his daughter named by the media to “inspire
others” (3/4, 75%) [24]. All testimony articles provided evidence to support their claim,
supplying quotes from the individual. The reports all provide one-sided views of the
individual giving the testimony.
Victim’s health condition reporting by media
There are 112 media reports that focused on the victim’s health or any medical decisions
made pertaining to her health (theme 2). Of these reports, 52 (46.8%) described the event of
the gang-rape. There were 23 reports (20.7%) that gave information on the victim’s
transportation via helicopter to Singapore.
While 61 of the 111 reports (54.9%) stated that the victim was in serious condition, 37 reports
(33.3%) discussed the multiple surgeries that had been performed in attempt to aid her. There
are 43 reports (38.7%) that describe her condition as having internal bleeding and intestinal
damage. Of the 111 reports, 13 of them (11.7%) stated that the victim had experienced brain
damage. There are 4 reports (3.6%) that describe the victim’s brain damage as not being able
to talk but being able to write down her thoughts. Three reports (2.7%) made reference to a
statement made by the victim, “Ma main jeena chahti hoon”. (Translation: Mom, I want to
live)” [5,25]. Within these 111 reports, there were 29 (26.1%) that released information that
the victim had died and been cremated.
Analysis of the sources of data showed that 43/111 media reports provided specific evidence
to support claims. The majority (25/43, 58.1%) quote the attending physician or a
representative of the hospital, as their source of information. Six reports (13.8%) use quotes
from visiting politicians to describe her condition. Three international (6.9%) papers use
quotations from Indian newspapers to support their claims. Additionally, 4 reports (9.3%)
used claims from family and friends. The remaining media reports (11.6%) use a combination
of the above to support claims.
Reporting of protests
There are 134 media reports identified which primarily discussed the protests as a result of
the nationwide outrage. The earliest papers discussing the protest in Delhi were published
December 18, 2012 [26]. Content analysis of reports showed that from the 134 reports, 74
reports (55.2%) indicate that protests were based on criticism of the current government and
their lack of action in protecting women. Leader of the opposition, Sushma Swaraj is quoted
asking, What is the government doing to curb rape cases in the capital?” [27]. 28 reports
(20.9%) emphasize that citizens were seeking justice for the victim and protesters demanded
the death penalty. Additionally, 32 reports (23.9%) underscore both government criticism and
the demand for justice as the underlying push for demonstrations.
Protests ranged from peaceful demonstrations to violent outbreaks. Media reports of violent
protests (68/134, 50.7%) described police barricades at Jantar Mantar, a world heritage site in
Jaipur and use of force to keep protestors controlled [28]. A total of 20 reports discuss the
injuries and death of a constable as a result of the protests. All reports of violent protest
occurred in and around Delhi.
Conversely, reports of peaceful protests (36/134, 26.7%) described candlelight marches and
demonstrations. One report discussed how protestors appealed to people on social networking
sites to gain support [29]. Although most papers discuss national outrage, eight reports (8/36,
22.2%) describe incidences of peaceful protests internationally. The first international report
is of a silent protest in Toronto on January 3rd, 2013 [30].
Analysis of the sources of data showed that 107/134 media reports provided evidence for
their information, while 27 did not. These reports were short (4–8 sentences) synopses of the
event on a page containing other stories and/or lacked use of quotes and specific sources or
photos to support the article arguments. From these 107 media reports, 66 (61.6%) provided
quotes or photographs to demonstrate opinions of both protestors and government officials.
Two media reports (2.2%) were photo galleries and only focused on the perspective of the
protestors. Conversely other reports (39/107, 36.4%) only expressed the point of view of
officials with regards to the protest.
Opinions of victim reported by media
The 55 articles that address the general public’s response show a polarized representation. In
32 reports (58.1%) the public is characterized to have been supportive of the victim and
shocked by the events. They applaud the victim’s bravery by giving her the symbolic name
“Damini”, meaning Lightning, after the 1993 Hindi film with this name. The main character,
Damini, is thought of as a hero who fights for equality and justice for a victim of rape. [31].
In 23 reports (41.81%) the global outrage and anger surrounding the event is emphasized.
The reports discuss the public’s demand for change in the treatment of women in India and
concern for the safety of women in India [32]. The representation of citizens is not limited to
India. Ten reports underscore international response and criticize the Indian government.
One report however discusses the controversial view of spiritual guru Asaram Bapu. He was
criticized for stating, “The victim is as guilty as her rapists” [33]. Of the 55 articles
addressing the public’s response, 6/55 (10.9%) described instances of victim blaming. One
article provided a quotation from a Rajasthan state legislature stating that instances of rape
would decrease if women wore pants instead of skirts [32]. These cases of victim blaming
provided a general theme that women who do not dress conservatively cause rape to occur.
Another theme present throughout these 6 articles is that women could reduce the occurrence
of rape by not going out past sundown. These instances of victim-blaming provoked protest
throughout the nation as people contested the idea that the women who are victimized hold
responsibility in cases of rape.
The sources used by these articles, to support their claim, represent views of individual
citizens, including a large number of students (80.7%), government or police officials
(14.3%), and photographs (5.3%).
In India, there were 24,923 rape cases reported to the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2012,
representing an increase of 15.8% from 2009 [34]. It is important to consider that rape is a
crime that is vastly under-reported and consequently, estimates of incidence frequently under-
estimate the true nature of the problem, including in India [35]. There has been a history of
protest in India regarding the topic of violence against women, and many people in India
have fought to gain gender equality as well as tougher punishment for rapists. Recently,
protests have spread throughout India and the rest of the world after a 23 year-old student was
brutally gang-raped on a moving bus in South Delhi in December 2012. The protests fight to
have even harsher punishment for rapists, including the possibility of the death penalty [10].
Professional media plays a major role in spreading the information of an event such as this
rape, as well as information on the protests and public response to the event. This specific
rape has sparked a major response within the media on a global scale. This major response is
critical in the development of awareness regarding women’s health issues, and the facilitation
of the media to create this response should be utilized in future events pertaining to violence
against women and other women’s health issues.
The results of this study show that the news of the gang-rape in Delhi on December 16, 2012
spread globally through professional media sources within two days. This transition followed
a pattern in which Indian news sources provided the first reports and international reports
were delayed by a day. By December 18, 2012 the news of events in Delhi was globally
distributed. Interestingly, the first English language report identified by our study was not
made by a local Delhi paper. The Hindu, which published the first report, is a prominent
national newspaper.
The results also indicated three peaks in the dispersion of media reports during major events
in the timeline, before a final plateau of reports is established. The first correlates to a large
number of reports published regarding the occurrence of the event on December 16th, 2012.
The second peak of media reports occurred in response to the formation of protests over the
incident from December 22nd, 2012 to December 25th, 2012. The last peak from December
28th, 2012 to December 31st corresponds to the deterioration of the victim’s physical well-
being and eventual death on December 29th, 2012. Overall, the number of reports increased
steadily during the period of December 17th to January 7th, while beginning to decline near
the end. The plateau forms as information of the perpetrator’s custody begins to overtake the
media’s attention. The media shifts from emphasis on the protests and begins to focus on the
trials of the accused men. The relatively short delay in initial reports of the event to the
emergence of protests suggests the efficiency in which the spread of information by media is
capable of creating social movements.
It is valuable to know how media spreads after an event similar to this because it
demonstrates how effective and fast the media is as a means to disseminate information. This
study is specifically focused on the issue of violence against women, but the informative
nature of media and ability to spark social movement can be applied to women’s health issues
in general that require global attention. Considering the impact of the media as demonstrated
by this study, those interested in creating awareness among the general population need to
recognize the importance of engaging the media in pursuing their desired outcomes [15].
Although the media is a quick source of creating awareness, it also has limitations. One such
limitation assessed in our study is the variability of information provided. Media reports were
highly variable in content, even if the focus was on the same theme. Additionally, analysis of
their sources of evidence showed high heterogeneity among the reports. Although media
sources are not entirely heterogeneous in content, they have demonstrated a pivotal role in
social movement development in this specific case, which can be valuable in future cases of
social movements surrounding women’s health issues.
Strengths and limitations of this study
There are three main strengths within this study: 1) Each included news source was read in
full before being nominated for inclusion, instead of assessing solely based on the title; 2)
large and comprehensive databases for published news were used when searching for articles,
including Factivia and LexisNexis media databases; 3) The screening for selection of media
analysis and author bias analysis was carried out independently in duplicate, preventing
expectation bias from a single rater process and increasing reliability.
The six main limitations within the study are: 1) The study was solely focused on online
media sources, which may prevent small, local media sources from being included in the
results. Written newspapers and televised local news would be sources of media that are not
present in the results due to this limitation; 2) Some online sources may have been deleted or
archived due to the elapsed time in between the event and when the study had been
performed; 3) The poor inter-rater agreement indicates that there was high variability in the
methods of assessment between each rater. This could be the result of poorly defined criteria
to assess author bias. There are no tested tools to assess bias in media sources systematically,
which we could have used. Additionally, it may be argued that all media sources are
subjective, thus making a distinction is difficult. In future studies, assessment methods
pertaining to the assessment of author bias within a media source should be clearly defined in
order to increase the inter-rater agreement; 4) Social media was not considered in this article.
The spread of information of the event on a global scale would have also been affected by
social media. 5) Manual searching of common news sources in English was conducted, which
eliminates a large number of potentially relevant articles that are not in English. The timeline
may be more accurate if sources in other languages were also included. 6) Attempts were
made to find exact times for all resources, however in the case of reports for Indo-Asian
countries a specific time could not be identified for the first report from this area. This is a
limitation of news sources that will affect most media analyses.
Future directions
This study provides assessment of the timeline corresponding to information translation
through media sources after an event of interpersonal violence such as the New Delhi gang-
rape on December 16, 2012. It also provides insight into what details are presented by the
media including: bias towards the event, included and excluded facts. Future studies may
look further into the idea that media spreads very quickly after a major event like this;
however the information that is spread is highly variable in its contents. Assessing the
accuracy of a large group of media reports pertaining to the same topic will aid in
determining the factual accuracy and details found within media reports that are released
quickly after a major event.
Secondly, this study focused only on professional journalism. Future research can look at
how information transitions through social media sources and citizen journalism. This study
would provide a more complete image of information translation in the mass public.
The gang-rape in Delhi on December 16, 2012 provides a model for the spread of information
across the globe through the media. The timeline of this spread shows that in a short period of
time, information is able to reach across the globe through major media sources. This spread
is a key contributor to the development of social movements pertaining to violence against
women, as demonstrated by the case studied in this project. The details of the event that are
found within these articles are variable, resulting in many different variations of the story.
These findings suggest that although online media facilitates a rapid spread of information,
there are real risks of inaccurate initial reporting that are often perpetuated by subsequent
reports. Ultimately, the rapid spread of information by the media may be variable, yet it acts
as a powerful tool in the formation of social movements around acts of violence against
women such as this case.
Competing interests
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Authors’ contributions
KM and MB designed the study. MP, FM, RJ, and NP collected and analyzed data. All
authors contributed to interpretation of data. MP and FM drafted the manuscript. RJ, NP,
KM, and MB all revised the manuscript for critical content. All authors read and approved
the final manuscript.
The authors would like to thank Taryn Scott, MSW, RSW, for her assistance preparing this
manuscript. Dr. Bhandari is funded, in part, by a Canada Research Chair. No other funding
was received for the preparation of this manuscript. The authors declare that they have no
conflicts of interest.
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... The software enabled a query regarding word frequency in the sample of articles from each time period. Based on the indicators studied by Phillips et al. (2015) regarding the media coverage of the Delhi rape case, I utilized their methodology to complete the comparison of rape reportings before and after the Nirbhaya case. They write, "The theme categories were determined a priori, and included: 1) Description of event, 2) Victim's health condition/medical decisions, 3) Protests as a result of the event, 4) Testimonies (victim, victim's friends, witnesses, accused or family member), 5) General public's response to the event (excluding protests)" (Phillips et al. 2015)." ...
... Based on the indicators studied by Phillips et al. (2015) regarding the media coverage of the Delhi rape case, I utilized their methodology to complete the comparison of rape reportings before and after the Nirbhaya case. They write, "The theme categories were determined a priori, and included: 1) Description of event, 2) Victim's health condition/medical decisions, 3) Protests as a result of the event, 4) Testimonies (victim, victim's friends, witnesses, accused or family member), 5) General public's response to the event (excluding protests)" (Phillips et al. 2015)." Rao (2014) argues that the Indian television news media's portrayal and coverage of rape is narrowly focused on sexual violence against middle-class and upper-caste women and avoids violence against lower class women like Dalits. 3 My content analysis examines the extent to which the media reports the victim's economic status, educational background, and physical appearance at the time of the crime has evolved. ...
In December 2012, a twenty-three year old college student, who was given the pseudonym “Nirbhaya” (“fearless”), was fatally gang-raped on a private bus in Delhi, India, galvanizing the country to swiftly adopt new legislative measures and catapulting the issue of violence against women in India into the international spotlight. Although assault and rape cases have made India infamous for its high volume of crimes against women, the reaction to this particular incident was much different from before. This paper investigates whether the governmental and societal responses represent social change, as indicated by changing attitudes towards violence against women in India. I study this question by analyzing scholarly literature regarding the factors that affect collective attitudes towards violence against women. In addition, this paper examines collective attitudinal change in the nation as indicated by media coverage of rape cases, crime statistic reports, influence of women’s movements, impact of legislation, and public opinion polls. I find that despite an immediate backlash against the epidemic of sexual violence, the response has not contributed to a complete transformation in attitudes towards violence against women based on the indicators studied above.
... The most important finding from the focus groups is that, beyond the quality and availability of spaces to exercise in the Greater Noida Area, women of middle and upper SES are very hesitant to be physically active outside the home due to concerns of safety threats from men. These concerns are likely heightened by multiple recent high-profile cases of violence against women in nearby Delhi [16], and an increase in reporting of rape crimes to the police over the past several years in India [17]. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 36,735 cases of rape were reported in 2014 [18], and this is likely a gross underestimate of the occurrence of gender-based violence, as only an estimated 2% of such cases of violence are actually reported to the police in India [19]. ...
... According to Sonia Bathla (1998), police refuse to investigate murder cases relating to dowry and other extreme violence against women such as burning alive. Similarly, Sonia Bathla (1998), Rabia Ali (2001) and Phillips, (2015) have given adverse opinion about the role of media is believed to be negative regarding coverage of women issues. Another study of Huda & Ali (2015) depicted that media is biased in all sections. ...
Full-text available
The aim of this research is to thoroughly analyze the part multilingual dailies play in covering women issues in Pakistan. It is rooted from national newspapers, the Daily 'Dawn', the Daily 'Jang' and the Daily 'Kawish' in the year of 2011. The study explores to what extent of the violence against women and education issue of women is dealt by the sampled dailies. The study employed content analysis a quantitative research methodology during 1st January 2011 to 31st December 2011. The contents of the newspaper were measured in column per centimeter of the space of one year. For this research work three major dailies of three different languages, the Daily Dawn, the Daily Jang and the Daily Kawish were selected. In sum up, an elite class newspaper the Daily Dawn has published 562 very little issues of women and used 0.6 percent of the total capacity which is of 4353024 co./cm in the year of 2011. However, the Sindhi language newspaper, the Daily Kawish has used 2430 a little more issue of women and covered 2.3 percent of total capacity of 1678976 col./cm of this daily in 2011. To some extent, the Urdu language newspaper the Daily Jang has reported 1297 more number of women issues and used 1 percent of total capacity of 2423616 col./cm in one year. Hence, the result shows that Pakistani press gives a little bit space to issues of women rights. Although, the Daily Dawn and the Daily Kawish have reported more issues of violence against women but the Daily Jang (an Urdu language newspaper) has covered more education problems of women in its newspaper in the year of 2011. _______________
... There was widespread public outcry of unprecedented magnitude, with protests occurring not only in the capital, but also in other cities and nations [20]. Media attention spread globally "within a matter of days" [27] and media reports on rape increased overall [12]. The event also resulted in a reassessment of criminal law regarding sexual assault and women's safety, though not all recommendations have been implemented [32]. ...
Conference Paper
We present a qualitative inquiry through the lens of feminist Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) into women's perceptions of personal safety in New Delhi, India. Since a brutal gang-rape incident took place in Delhi in December 2012 and received global attention, women's safety has been the focus of much attention India-wide. In April 2016, the Indian government issued a mandate that all mobile phones sold in India 2017 onwards must include a panic button for women's safety. We draw on interview and survey data to examine women's responses to the mandate, also investigating what factors influence their perceptions of safety, positively and negatively. Our findings indicate that women's sense of safety may be deconstructed into a multitude of factors--personal, public, social, technological--that must align for this sense of safety to be preserved. We then discuss the implications these factors have for the success and (re-)design of the panic button and similar interventions.
... However, since the sexual assault of a young woman in Delhi in December 2012 made national and international headlines, the focus has shifted to now include harassment and violence against women and girls outside the domestic sphere. The 2012 Delhi rape provoked many changes in law, policies, and programs throughout India as well as a great deal of discussion about the safety of women and girls in India (Phillips, et al. 2015). ...
Conference Paper
We present the results of our study of people's responses to unsafe scenarios with personal safety apps. Several such apps have been developed, offering features such as a location-sharing panic button. However, there is little research into how people might respond in different personal safety situations, and how such apps might contribute to their response. We performed a lab study with 30 participants and used semi-structured interviews to gather responses to a set of three increasingly risky scenarios, both before and after the installation of a personal safety app. From our results, participants stated that they would use mobile phones and personal safety apps most often to support "collective" responses, with calls to others for assistance. Further, while collective responses were often combined with "avoidance" or "protective" responses, when using a personal safety app, collective responses were less often combined with other reaction types. Overall, our results suggest some potential benefit from personal safety apps, though more study is required.
The paper analyses dialogic contractions in selected online news discourse on Violence against Women (henceforth, VAW) in Nigeria. The data comprise ten (10) purposively selected online news reports on various cases of VAW sourced from the news archives of;; Premium Times; and The Punch Online. The study selects only cases of VAW in Nigeria. The study performs a qualitative analysis of the online news discourses from White’s dialogic perspectives of intersubjective positioning. The analysis portrays diverse linguistic resources through which online news reporters and commenters firstly acknowledge, and then, restrict the scope of diogic alternatives in various communicative contexts in the reportage of cases of VAW in Nigeria; the dialogistic functions of the identified resources of dialogic contractions; and their rhetorical effects with respect to audience (dis)alignment. The paper, therefore, concludes that the dialogic theory enhances the understanding on how online audience and their assumed shared societal values/beliefs on VAW in the Nigerian context are taken as important and foregrounded in the creation of online news discourse on VAW.
National household data suggest that more than four million women in India have experienced nonspousal rape. Fewer than 1.5% of victims of sexual violence in India report their assaults to police, though there is some indication of increased rape reporting to police following a very high-profile fatal gang rape in Delhi in December 2012. This study examines effects of the Delhi gang rape on rape reporting to police in India, and assesses the roles played by geography, media access, and women's status and protection factors in that reporting. Triangulated data from Indian crime, census, and police bureau records were used to assess trends in rape reporting to police at national and district levels from 2005 to 2016, using regressions, spatial mapping, and graphical trend analyses. Nationally, there was a 33% increase in annual rapes reported to police after 2012. Subnationally, there was substantial variation in trends; these district-level changes were particularly affected by distance from Delhi (0.2 fewer rapes reported to police/100,000 women for each 100 km from Delhi), literacy sex ratio (0.6 more rapes for every increase of 0.1 in male: female literacy ratio), and the presence of a women's police station (1.0 fewer rapes reported to police/100,000 women relative to districts with no women's police station). The 2012 Delhi gang rape significantly affected rape reporting to police in India, with greater increases seen closer to Delhi and in districts with compromised gender equity. Further work to support the rights and safety of women is needed, including bolstering an enabling environment for reporting, legal protections, and responsive criminal justice.
In this article, we use a global transnational feminist perspective to explore Yazidi women's perceptions of the nature and impact of media reporting on women and girls who survived captivity, rape, and trafficking by the self-declared Islamic State (ISIS). Through 26 face-to-face interviews of displaced Yazidi women, we identify five narrative themes that characterize interviewees' reflections in the wake of these atrocities, including the sense of pressure women felt from journalists and other sources to share their stories of ISIS captivity; the belief that some journalistic practices are putting women and girls at risk; the recognition of the severe emotional toll on survivors' that results from repeatedly telling their stories; the sense of urgency and usefulness of going public nonetheless; and the resultant feelings of frustration and betrayal that the willingness to share their traumatic experiences has not resulted in a concerted global response to the genocidal attacks against the Yazidi people. Our findings suggest a paradoxical narrative of victimization and resistance in women's media engagement that is indicative of a kind of “bargaining at the intersection of patriarchies” that has implications for journalists covering sexual violence in conflict zones.
Full-text available
Collective action and social movement protest has become commonplace in our ‘demonstration‐democracy’ and no longer surprises the media or the public. However, as will be shown, this was not the case with the recent anti‐globalization protests that attracted demonstrators from countries all over the world. The battles of Seattle, Washington, Prague and Genoa, with an unforeseen mixture of nationalities and movements, became world news. Interestingly, the new media seemed to play a crucial role in the organization of these global protests. This article maps this movement‐in‐progress via an analysis of the websites of anti‐globalization, or more specifically anti‐neo‐liberal globalization organizations. It examines the contribution of these sites to three different conditions that establish movement formation; collective identity; actual mobilization and a network of organizations. This ongoing, explorative research indicates signs of an integration of different organizations involved and attributes an important role to the Internet. However, whilst both our methodology and subject are evolving rapidly, conclusions, as our initial results show, must be tempered.
Full-text available
We conducted a print media analysis in 44 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Eastern Mediterranean in order to understand one dimension of the climate for evidence-informed health systems and to provide a baseline for an evaluation of knowledge-translation platforms. Our focus was whether and how policymakers, stakeholders, and researchers talk in the media about three topics: policy priorities in the health sector, health research evidence, and policy dialogues regarding health issues. We developed a search strategy consisting of three progressively more delimited phases. For each jurisdiction, we searched Major World Publications in LexisNexis Academic News for articles published in 2007, selected relevant articles using one set of general criteria and three sets of concept-specific criteria, and coded the selected articles to identify common themes. Second raters took part in the analysis of Lebanon and Malaysia to assess inter-rater reliability for article selection and coding. We identified approximately 5.5 and 5 times more articles describing health research evidence compared to the number of articles describing policy priorities and policy dialogues, respectively. Few articles describing health research evidence discussed systematic reviews (2%) or health systems research (2%), and few of the policy dialogue articles discussed researcher involvement (9%). News coverage of these concepts was highly concentrated in several countries like China and Uganda, while few articles were found for many other jurisdictions. Kappa scores were acceptable and consistently greater than 0.60. In many countries the print media, at least as captured in a global database, are largely silent about three topics central to evidence-informed health systems. These findings suggest the need for proactive-media engagement strategies.
Culture encompasses the symbolic and expressive dimensions of social life. Culture includes sets of symbols such as language, intangible, abstract “mental products” such as ideas, beliefs, values, and identity, and the meanings given to material objects such as clothing, decorations, art objects, buildings, and the like. A long tradition in sociological theory conceives of “culture” as a distinct dimension of social life, and embodied primarily in social institutions such as religion or the family. More recent theorizing, however, understands culture as analytically embedded in all aspects of human society. When institutionalized in organizational routines and social networks culture is tightly enmeshed in social structures, even as it can be kept analytically distinct.
Market and media act symbiotically to produce culture. Economic globalisation also means a global culture. Economies of scale apply here too, and the movement is towards uniformity and regimentation. Cultures of minorities are lost and the trivial gains at the cost of the serious.
A previously described coefficient of agreement for nominal scales, kappa, treats all disagreements equally. A generalization to weighted kappa (Kw) is presented. The Kw provides for the incorpation of ratio-scaled degrees of disagreement (or agreement) to each of the cells of the k * k table of joint nominal scale assignments such that disagreements of varying gravity (or agreements of varying degree) are weighted accordingly. Although providing for partial credit, Kw is fully chance corrected. Its sampling characteristics and procedures for hypothesis testing and setting confidence limits are given. Under certain conditions, Kw equals product-moment r. The use of unequal weights for symmetrical cells makes Kw suitable as a measure of validity.
Assailants in bus tried to run over Delhi gang-rape victim. The Times of
  • Ghosh
Ghosh D: Assailants in bus tried to run over Delhi gang-rape victim. The Times of India 2013 Jan 2 []
Victim of gang rape in India dies at hospital in Singapore. New Delhi Televisionvictim-of-gang-rape-in-india-dies-at-hospital-in-singapore-310939
  • Bhatt
Bhatt A: Victim of gang rape in India dies at hospital in Singapore. New Delhi Television 2012 Dec 28 []
Victim shifted out of Safdarjung hospital, headed for Singapore. The Times of India
  • Delhi
Delhi gang rape case: Victim shifted out of Safdarjung hospital, headed for Singapore. The Times of India 2012 Dec 26 []
The Map [ = 93
  • Harassmap
Harassmap: The Map [ = 93]
com/protest-and-road-blockade-against-the-gangrape-case-in-delhi/] 27. 13 days that shook the nation: timeline of Delhi gangrape case. IBN Live
  • Agrawal
Agrawal A: Protest and road-blockade against the gangrape case in Delhi. Tehelka 2012 Dec 18 [] 27. 13 days that shook the nation: timeline of Delhi gangrape case. IBN Live 2012 Dec 29 []