Indian official resigns over 'rape victim selfie'

  • 3 hours ago
Photo of selfie being taken with victim's features hiddenImage copyrightNARAYEN BARETH
An Indian official has resigned after she and another women's rights advocate were pictured taking a smiling selfie with a rape victim.
First emerging on the phone messaging service WhatsApp, the pictures were taken when members of the Rajasthan Commission for Women met the victim at a police station on Wednesday.
The woman had reported that she had been raped by her husband and two other relatives who also allegedly tattooed profanities on her forehead and hand for failing to produce a dowry of Rs 51,000, about $755.
Somya Gurjar, who has since quit her position with the National Council For Women, was seen smiling as she snapped the selfie.
In the images, Gurjar is seen holding a tablet, with commission chairperson Suman Sharma holding the victim's hand - as if trying to showcase her tattooed arm in the picture.
Gurjar said the victim was "curious" about the camera and that the selfie was an attempt to "relax and normalize" her. "She said take my photo also. I only took her photo to put her at ease and because she asked for it. I was trying to be humane with her".
But the images of the selfie taking triggered a wave of outrage on social media, especially as it is illegal in India to publish information that leads to the identification of rape victims.
Tweet: Taking selfie with a rape victim and that too with a smile is insensitive. Defending it is worse.Image copyrightTWITTER/DRSYQURAISHI
Really? Such shocking comments and ridiculous thought process. Shows comp ignorance, insincerity and insensitivityImage copyrightTWITTER/SWATJAIHIND
Official figures show the incidence of sexual violence is increasing in India, where the gang rape and murder of a student in Delhi in 2012 led to protests and new anti-rape laws. The hashtag #SelfieWithRapeSurvivor was used by some to express the opinion that the selfie was symptomatic of a wider problem.
Tweet: A society where women treat other women like objects!Image copyrightTWITTER/MEHTASHALINI
The incident was also used by supporters of Bollywood superstar Salman Khan to criticise the National Commission For Women (NCW) which had previously summoned the actor to a hearing on 8 July over a controversial rape remark he made last month.
Tweet: Saw on TV women commission member clicking selfie with rape victim in Rajastna. Salman Khan can summon Women commission now.Image copyrightTWITTER/NCHAUHANTOI
Tweet: National Commission for Women is busy asking apology from Salman. Rajasthan Women Commission is busy clicking selfies wid rape victim. Close NCWImage copyrightTWITTER/AJAZKHANACTOR
Some commentators blamed Narendra Modi, often dubbed India's first social media prime minister, for promoting what they saw as an unhealthy national obsession with selfie taking.
Tweet: When your role model for selfie craze in India is PM, you can't blame Soumya Gurjar, Rajastn SCWomen for obnoxious act with the rape victim.Image copyrightTWITTER/KRISHPACHEGONKR
As the backlash grew, Ms Gurjar resigned from the NCW but continued to defend her actions, saying: ""It was just an attempt to make the victim feel at ease".
Blog by Suniti Singh, BBC Monitoring


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