Millennium Post

Stop stripping the sporting star

It is inhuman! It is outrageous! And it is disgusting! The manner is which Pinki Pramanik, a national athlete who brought laurels for the nation at various international sporting events, is being sullied by all and sundry. Thanks to media, today she has become a household name, more infamous due to the controversy on her gender, than due to the gold medals she won at the Asian and Commonwealth Games. Pinki’s sporting achievements include a team relay gold medal at the 2006 Asian Games, another gold at the 2005 Asian Indoor Games, silver medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games, beside many other medals at national and international levels.

It is no secret that Pinki was recently charged of raping a woman – who was also her live-in partner – as it has been alleged that Pinki has both male and female reproductive organs. However, that is yet to be proved, as she is being forced into medical tests one after the other with inconclusive results. The moot point here is not with respect to her gender, but the shocking manner in which the Indian media has been treating an internationally acclaimed athlete. The media has left no stone unturned to publicly strip her dignity, by repeatedly focusing on her gender determination issue and by indiscriminately telecasting her semi-nude to nude videos. The authorities too have been sniping at her. The glaring example being a male policeman physically accosting her, as he might have accosted a male criminal, even before Pinki’s gender has been determined. Worse, she was shown totally naked and a video of her undergoing medical tests at a nursing home in West Bengal was also aired all over! And unfortunately, there’s no one to stop this national auction of her dignity!

So would the case have been different had her background been different? It doesn’t require a genius to establish the fact that what Pinki is going through is just because she hails from a poor background and doesn’t have influential lobbies behind her. Here, I would like to bring in the case of Amar Singh and Abhishek Singhvi. Tapes apparently related to them that were being circulated over the net were removed instantly; even the courts came to their rescue. While the Supreme Court got the airing of Amar Singh’s tapes stopped by the media, the Delhi High Court’s ex parte order instructed media houses and restrained them from airing footage from any tapes related to Singhvi. But there seems to be no such magnanimous support for Pinki.

In fact, in Pinki’s case, even her medical test videos were made available all across the internet and spread like viruses over cell phones too! Misleading reports with headlines like, 'Pramanik bribed officials to hide her gender', or 'Athlete sent to jail for rape' are being circulated all over the internet. Even leading dailies have not been sympathetic to her. One derogatory headline in one of the leading dailies read as, 'After questions on gender, Pinki Pramanik now faces MMS ordeal'. Out came two more headlines in one of the recognised national dailies: 'Athlete Pinki Pramanik arrested on 'rape' charges' and 'Pinki has male features'. Is there any point accusing her of rape or declaring her gender as male, when nothing has been proven yet? Media should have at least shown some discretion by protecting the identity of the person due to the sensitivity involved, instead of sensationalising the issue, irrespective of the fact that the individual in question is an international athlete. It was also divulged in the media (and wrongly so) that the initial tests conducted at a private hospital revealed that Pinki was a male! Such reporting is malicious, irresponsible and totally a TRP grabbing exercise – and must be condemned by the responsible sections of the media and judiciary immediately.

Indeed, in the name of gender tests, Pinki is being shifted to different hospitals, which itself is detrimental to her mental and physical well-being. As if this was not enough, Pinki was even kept in the male ward at Presidency Jail in Kolkata. Further, she lost her job with Indian Railways! The hounding media featured every intricate detail of the Pinki’s sexual relationship with her partner. They showed how she enjoyed a sensual life and at the same time also showed her partner painting her as a rapist.

This is not just a clear case of defamation of Pinki, but also shows how courts come to the rescue of only those who wield power and money to influence the system. A simple Google search would reveal how hundreds of girls/women have had their obscene videos spread all across – from them being stripped publicly to being molested in public! Still, courts have not ordered the local authorities to remove these shameful videos and objectionable material! The Supreme Court should immediately order all media houses to remove not only Pinki’s but all other similarly objectionable content from the net and even from their archives. This is the least we can do as a nation, to reverse the social stigma individuals like Pinki have gone through!

Author is a management guru and honorary Director of IIPM Think Tank.
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