Lucknow, Jan. 6: The hand-wringing over masking the identity of the Delhi rape victim turned largely academic today after two British tabloids published her name and her father led his village in demanding disclosure in India.
The father’s call was based on the premise that the disclosure of identity would earn her a rightful place in “history”, helping her become an “inspiration” to other women. Soon after the British tabloids carried an interview in which the father named her (the surname did not appear to be entirely correct), the demand to do so in India went viral on social media.
No reaction was immediately available from the Indian government, which has so far refused to reveal the name despite Union minister Shashi Tharoor suggesting the victim be honoured by naming the revised rape laws after her with her family’s permission.
Reuters, however, quoted public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan as saying: “Even if family members have given their permission to disclose the victim’s identity for a greater cause, we can’t disclose her identity.”
The government has cited Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code that bans the publication of a rape victim’s name on pain of a jail term of up to two years.
Section 228A does allow the revelation of a rape victim’s name but under certain conditions. However, there are some “grey areas”, Lucknow-based lawyer I.B. Singh told The Telegraph.
The conditions under which the law allows such revelation include: (a) written authorisation from the victim; and (b) if the victim is dead or minor or of unsound mind, a written authorisation from her next of kin to the chairman or secretary of a government-recognised welfare organisation. The organisation can, for instance, name a scheme after her.
What remains unclear, however, is whether the media or the government can publicise the name — even after such authorisation — without permission from the court handling the case, the lawyer said.
The victim’s father said over the phone that he wanted his daughter’s name revealed because of her “bravery” and because “the way she died fighting should inspire other women”. “Else, years from now, when this becomes history, people wouldn’t know who suffered and who died fighting.”
PTI had last week quoted the girl’s family members as saying they were not against making her name public.
Saurabh Singh, a social worker who visited the victim’s village yesterday, said the village had rallied behind her father. “They are shouting slogans in her name. They want to fight the social stigma that usually attaches to a rape victim. I feel her father should authorise a welfare agency to use her name,” he said.
Paras Pradhan, former sarpanch of the village, backed the demand. “The gruesome rape has lowered the morale of this village’s girls, who cycle to high school 10km from here. They have stopped going to school,” he said over the phone. “I don’t understand the problem in revealing her name.”
Arvind Yadav, a teacher at the village primary school, backed Pradhan up. “We want a girls’ school built here. Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav sent a message that he was ready to bear the expenses. If the school is built in her name, people will come to know her identity.”