These violent crimes demand action, not just words


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The Independent Online

I had wondered if it was trite or not to pull together the news about the girls raped and murdered in India, the Sudanese mother sentenced to death, and the Pakistani woman killed by stoning at her own family’s hands, into a discussion of whether violence against females was increasing. I decided that it probably was... and then I listened to yesterday morning’s Today programme, which did just that. It did not jar to discuss all three, and also to mention the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls.

But what stands out is that while we find these stories compelling  and sobering, they are not isolated incidents. They are not even unusual. For different reasons they have attracted the world’s media, but violence against women, including rapes, stonings, kidnaps and murders, happens frequently, and goes largely unreported. David Cameron et al condemning such crimes when they hit the headlines are to be applauded, but sanctions against countries that allow such atrocities would make a more significant difference. On this, if nothing else, I agree with Nigel Farage.

Having said that, Andrew Buncombe’s report from Katra Sadatganj in Uttar Pradesh is important and unmissable. Our Asia correspondent always delivers riveting copy and this is no exception. What was difficult, as an editor, was choosing from the images that his accompanying photographer took. Would it be too intrusive to picture the relatives to whom Buncombe spoke? Does a photograph of the tree from which the girls were hanging add anything, or is it distasteful? And, despite the girls themselves having been identified on TV news bulletins, should we show their faces? I hope you will agree that our choices, made with picture editor Sophie Batterbury, mark the right tone.

In more cheerful news, many thanks to the readers who took the time to comment on and share our Happy List, published last week. I accept the challenge to make space for positive stories as often as possible. Let us hope that they are there, among all the negativity.