The Wire's Ismat Ara Wins Laadli Award for Investigative Report on Hathras

Subhiksha Manoj and Bharati Kannan have won the award in the 'web blog' category for their piece on menstrual disorders amidst COVID-19, which was published on LiveWire.

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New Delhi: The Wire‘s Ismat Ara has won the Laadli Award in the ‘web investigative story’ for her article on the intricacies of the medico-legal examination report on the victim of the Hathras brutality.

In addition, Subhiksha Manoj and Bharati Kannan have won the award in the ‘web blog’ category for their piece on menstrual disorder and mental health amidst COVID-19, which was published on LiveWire.

The Laadli is an award given for gender sensitivity in the fields of media and advertising.

Ara’s report was filed in the aftermath of the gang rape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman by ‘upper’ caste Thakur men in the village of Boolgarhi in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras. The victim eventually succumbed to her injuries, leading to a nationwide outrage.

Headlined, ‘Exclusive: Aligarh Hospital MLC Report on Hathras Victim Shatters UP Police’s ‘No Rape’ Claim‘,
Ara’s report had laid bare findings which questioned the Uttar Pradesh police’s claim that no rape had taken place.

This MLC report had been prepared by the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital at Aligarh, where the victim was first admitted. Ara’s report revealed that doctors had recorded details provided by the victim herself, of the “complete penetration of the vagina” and indicated the use of force in their preliminary examination.

Months after Ara’s report was published, the chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) faulted the Uttar Pradesh Police for ignoring the victim’s statement.

The award citation observes that Ara’s work is the result of “meticulous examination” and is an “extremely convincing investigative report.”

It notes, “Ismat Ara’s well researched and logically presented scrutiny of the MLC report of the Hathras rape victim debunks the investigative agencies ‘no rape’ contention. She accesses the 54-page report and counters all the claims point by point.”

Subhiksha Manoj’s piece, with inputs from Bharti Kannan and original illustration by Pariplab Chakraborty, is a deep dive into menstrual cycles and mental health at a time of unprecedented crisis – the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manoj’s work was in collaboration with the social enterprise Boondh, which works on menstrual literacy among other fields. Headlined, ‘Coping With Pandemic Stress, Mental Health and Menstrual Disorders in 2020‘, the piece tackles two taboo subjects and calls for an intersectional approach to helping frontline workers, underserved communities, women and those from the LGBTQIA+ community.