Is this what we call a responsible media ?

On the 13th of July the news channels across Pakistan started flashing the news of a 22 year old trainee nurse, who jumps off the balcony of medical college and was found badly injured, her injury suggesting sexual assault. In a case of sexual assault, rape or attempted rape across the world media ethics demand that the identity of such victims be kept undisclosed. On the contrary the TV news channels across the country blasted not only the face of the victim here but also her name and religion, and like that was not enough they continued to run the news flick, with “breaking news” flashing in the brightest of the red, every few minutes for almost 2 days in a row till the time the face and name of the victim was not deep embedded in the memory of every single viewer of the channel, it was only than that they came to some senses and started to blur out the victim’s face.

Soon after the incident only a few days later the ever efficient local news channels found another news to break in flashing red headlines. On 28th of July 2010 a passenger airliner crashed into the hills of Margalla, in Islamabad in the early hours of the morning. In the haste to be the first to break the news some channels started off by reporting the incident as a helicopter crash, few minutes later on the same channel the crash was reported to be of a small aircraft carrying 55 passengers. It was only around 20 minutes later that the crash was described to be that of a passenger Airbus carrying over 150 passengers. but the irresponsible and unethical reporting doesn’t end here. News channels started claiming 40 survivors from the crash, but the footage they aired, showed the plain disintegrated, into tiny bits, not even a chair was seen whole and undamaged. Anyone with the slightest sense or logic would not believe that there could be any survivors when the plane its self is in tiny bits and pieces, but maybe because the news channels wanted to keep its viewers hooked, in hope, false hope that someone may just be found alive they continues to say there were survivors, at least 5 of them they claimed until after over six hours which is when they finally admitted there were none. A detailed account of irresponsible reporting of the day can be read in this blog here

The Tv News coverage of recent floods, the biggest natural disaster to hit Pakistan , also has been equally irresponsible. People crying is misery, and pain being showed on the loop again and again. Rather than focusing on the extent of the issue the raw face of misery the floods have dawned upon the people is being broadcasted, faces filled with tears and misery, sound of cries pleads, backed up with a sad dramatic music. But the stories of courage, or narrating the real extent of the issue, highlighting the long term troubles and challenges the recent floods has placed for us are all in the back ground somewhere. The main focus of every single news channel today is to air the misery of the people, because it is easy at times like these to go in with a mic and shove it into the face of an affected person and get an emotionally charged bit of video which they can throw in the face of the audience to cash their emotions and have their attention.

In yet another case of insensitive unethical attitude of our TV News channels, three days back a video of a brutal murder of two brothers in Sialkot appeared on a news channel. The video was so graphic that I couldn’t bear watching it till the end, even a few seconds of the footage was too disturbing for most of the audience but the video was run all day almost on the loop first on one news channel and since two days on all the other news channels. Since three days when ever I try to turn to the news all I see is that heartbreaking, gruesome video, running on the loop at every news channel I flip forcing me to keep the idiot box shut silent.

every time a bomb goes off the image of a severed head gangling from the strands of blood soaked hair, from the hand of a police person pops up on out TV screens, the head which is said to be of the suicide bomber almost always turns to be that of a victim. The blood splashed coming out of the TV screens, the cries piercing through the heart, the smell of charred flesh exposing us to too much of violence, violence which is breaking us apart, shattering our soul, violence which is undermining the core issues narrowing the extent of the problem, cutting short the bigger picture, and shifting the focus on the misery of one man, one person, one entity. While the humanity on stake, the crippled stale of law informant, poverty, crime, issues of that of the common people, and their future, which you and me should be pondering upon today are simply burred out of focus. Is this what we call a responsible media ?

Is this what we call a responsible media ?

Danger of human traffickers taking advantage of the flood victims

The memories of October 8 earthquake of 2005 are still fresh in our minds. People displaced in the catastrophe five years back are still not completely back to their normal lives and we have another one to deal with. This time the flash floods have effected the whole of the country, the number of displaced people spread across Pakistan is estimated to be above 13 million and the figures are still rising.

From the earthquake gained a lot of experience, although sadly not much of that experience was used to help improve our disaster management system but at least the social workers know the challenges are hugely difficult to deal with the aftermaths of such disaster .

Mostly all the privet NGOs active in relief work are emphasizing of specific medical supplies, food items of high nutrition values, nonperishable food, clothing’s and daily use items important for the displeased population of the country. But there is much more needed besides these essential supplies for the welfare and survival of these highly vulnerable people trapped in the crises.

We have already seen reports of crimes like robberies taking place in areas hit by floods, as people have left their valuables in their flooded houses, opportunists and criminals are having a field day stealing from the un attended houses. But that is not the only crime, and they are not the only criminals who are active and having a field day making the most of the misery of the people for their own selfish beings.

Countless cases of human trafficking have been recorded during the time of Oct 8 earthquake 5 years back but than the situation was different. The people displaces due to the earthquake were in camps and not much trafficking, abduction was possible from the centralized camped city, but hear the disaster is spread across the country and the refugees are taking shelters in schools and which ever dry land they find convenient, the refugee camps too are not much centralized and are divided is pockets.

Obviously a large number of children are among the survivors, and since the chaos and confusion is still there, and the disaster is still folding , to make it worst most NGOs are still busy collecting food daily use supplies and making them available to the flood victims, not many are thinking on this line, which makes the environment quite favorable time for the criminals involved in human traffickers, and sex trade crimes. Children, specially girl children, under treatment in make shift hospitals, trapped and left behind, or those who have lost most of their families are at a high vulnerability risk.

The need is to keep a careful check on such children, keep an eye out for suspicious people. Provide security to the refugee camps. NGOs and international organizations should take immediate measures and the state should be on a lookout for such criminals. There is also a need to raise voice and make people aware of the danger so they can too can keep an eye on suspicious people. And report them to the government, army police or alert the NGOs working in their areas.

It is a hard time for all of us, those who are privileged should play an active role, donating and helping the people who are currently struggling for their survival, it is our moral and ethical duty to provide the support and help our fellow human being in needs, with money, food and in which ever way we can help them. It is also our duty to voice our concerns and urge the government and people concerned to help and support there people. Millions of lives today are depending upon us it is time we stand up, strong for them.

Danger of human traffickers taking advantage of the flood victims