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Citizen Journalists Take On Rape And Domestic Violence

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, December 3 2013

ALMOST anyone can report through CGNet Swara (Flickr/sarahamina)

In August I wrote about a citizen journalism project in India called CGNet Swara, which residents of the central Indian state Chhattisgarh were using as a kind of government watchdog/accountability site. Since then, reports per day have nearly doubled, up to 400 a day, and a Global Post story highlights how the tool is being used by women to combat rampant rape and domestic violence.

To understand the rape culture in India, consider that in 2012, more than 600 rapes were reported in New Delhi alone, but only one report led to a conviction.

Earlier this year citizen journalist Prakash Gupta reported on CGNet Swara that an adivasi woman in his village was raped by three men. He interviewed the victim and her husband in the report. On August 22, just days after my post about CGNet Swara went up, Gupta wrote in to say that all three of the accused med had been arrested and sent to judicial remand.

A more recent post is headlined “My sister's murderer was arrested thanks to calls by CGnet listeners”:

Ramnaresh from Chitrakoot UP says her sister Maya was allegedly murdered by her in laws on 4th November. He had reported about it on Swara. He says, thanks to calls made by CGnet friends her husband was arrested after 12 days. I hope if you continue your pressure on authorities same way other 6 people named in the FIR will also be arrested. Here I want to also tell that apart from friends in CGnet we got no help from any one else yet.

Domestic violence is another rampant problem in India. In 2006 (not so long ago) the then junior minister of women and child development Renuka Chowdhury said that around 70 percent of women are victims of domestic violence.

Last month, project developer and former BBC journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary, organized a workshop to help women report more effectively; 90 women attended.

“When we looked at the figures, we found that 31 percent of the messages were by women,” he told the Global Post. “All of them are from poor backgrounds, from lower castes, from rural areas.”

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