At a press meet on Wednesday, Tamil actor and Bigg Boss Tamil host Kamal Haasan held forth on a variety of subjects, including Tamil culture, caste, fizzy drinks and GST. In the course of the press meet, he also spoke about the abduction and sexual assault of a popular Malayalam actor, which took place in February this year.
Except when he did so, he actually referred to the actor by name. He said, “We are not supporting [her] just because she is an actress. It’s a prime duty of every man to ensure women’s safety”. Um, okay thanks for that last bit, I guess, but when it was pointed out to him that he shouldn’t use the survivor’s name, he responded by saying, “It doesn’t matter. Don’t hide the name, you have put her name and nothing wrong with it. If you want to call her Draupadi, call her Draupadi.”
Except it does matter. While Kamal Haasan is right in pointing out that several sections of the media are indeed responsible for revealing the name of the actor who was assaulted, and that several media houses continue to do so, it doesn’t mean that others should just repeat the offence because it’s been done before. The assault survivor herself has confirmed that she does not want to be named in the media, which means that nobody, from Kamal Haasan to the news outlets who persist in using her name, like Sify.com, should do so. It’s a bit rich of Haasan to say that it doesn’t matter, and we’re also not sure where he got the idea that anyone wants to call her Draupadi.
The section 228 (A) of the IPC, which prohibits the publishing of the identity of victims of certain crimes, including sexual assault, specifically refers to actually printing or publishing the name in the media, but that’s really only a short step away from naming her publicly in a widely-attended press meet.
He isn’t the first actor to get into trouble for mentioning the name of this assault survivor. In a social media post expressing support for Malayalam actor Dileep, who was arrested on Monday on conspiracy charges in the abduction and assault case, actor Aju Varghese too named the assault survivor, for which he was called in for questioning by Kalamassery police on Thursday. Police siezed his phone to verify that the social media post was uploaded from the device, and once the results are confirmed, police say that they will arrest him. A case has been registered against him under section 228 (A) of the IPC.