DOs and DON’Ts of reporting on Sexual Harassment

Sowmya Rajendran

The News Minute


The ‘Me Too’ movement first came to India in October 2017, when a US based lawyer student Raya Sarkar put together a list of alleged sexual harassers in the Indian academia. At the time, there were several discussions in the media about how to approach ‘The List’ or LoSHA (List of Sexual Harassers in Academia). Would it be ethical to report on a list which just had names without specific allegations? Especially when the names of those who made the accusations remained anonymous?


Feminists, too, were divided on the list, with one section insisting on due process and others pointing out that survivor were re-victimized by due process. Eventually, several media houses did report on LoSHA though many of the larger, mainstream ones chose to ignore it. But in 2018, all that changed. The men who faced accusations this time around were more in the public eye, some of them from the media fraternity itself. More women were willing to come forward and name their sexual harassers, giving details of the incident (s). This led to some of those men being forced to resign from their jobs – including Minister of State MJ Akbar – or at least face an internal investigation in their work place. The story exploded in the entertainment industry, with men like Nana Patekar, Alok Nath and Vairamuthu facing serious allegations of sexual harassment and assault.


This time around, nobody could turn a blind eye to what was happening. Though the media reporting on the ‘Me Too’ movement was far more sensitive than what it was, say, a decade earlier (Tanushree Dutta’s allegation about Nana Patekar at the time was reported as a “tantrum”), there was scope for improvement – in what sort of questions were asked and of whom, and how the story itself was presented. Here is a list of Dos and Don’ts on reporting on ‘Me Too’, or any sexual crime for that matter.


This piece appeared as part of the NWMI Souvenir 2019