Associated Press Misreports Age Of Alleged Rape Survivor From UP, Later Corrects Story

Following inquiries made by BOOM on Monday, AP corrected its story.

International news wire agency The Associated Press (AP) misreported the age of an alleged rape survivor from Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh stating she is a four-year-old. Police officials told BOOM she is a teenager.

Following inquiries made by BOOM on Monday, AP corrected its story.

In its story 'Indian police investigate alleged rape of girl in hospital' published on November 4, 2018 AP said "Police in India said Sunday that they are investigating allegations that a 4-year-old girl was gang-raped while being treated in an intensive care unit at a hospital in the country’s north." (Click here to view an archived version)

International news organisations including the The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, UK based The Daily Express and many other foreign news websites carried AP's story.

International websites carried the story with the erroneous age after AP published it.

While AP did not directly reply to BOOM's emailed queries on Monday, the agency's subscribers carried a corrected version of the story on Tuesday.

A corrected version of the story now reads, "In a story Nov. 4 about an alleged gang rape at a hospital in northern India, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the alleged victim was a 4-year-old girl, based on a telephone interview with a local police official. However, police told AP on Monday that the alleged victim was 16, which is also the age given in a Nov. 3 police report shared with the AP."

Indian newspapers, which covered the alleged incident, reported the girl was aged 16-17. NDTV reported 'Teen, Alone In ICU, Raped Allegedly By Hospital Worker, 4 Others In UP', Times Of India stated '16-year-old girl gang-raped in private hospital’s ICU. Hindustan Times reported 'Teen in ICU allegedly raped by hospital staffer, 3 others in UP’s Bareilly' while Indian Express said, 'Bareilly: Family alleges teen’s gangrape in ICU, police investigate case'

BOOM contacted the Bareilly police who confirmed that the girl, who hails from a remote village in the district, was about 16 or 17 years old.

"The FIR registered by the father of the victim mentions her age as 16 or 17," Senior Superintendent of Police Muniraj G said.

According to the police the alleged rape happened on October 31, a day after the girl was admitted to the hospital seeking treatment for a bite from an venomous insect. In the FIR registered by the family, the girl has stated she was alone in the ICU when the incident occurred but she narrated the incident to her mother on November 3 after she was shifted to the general ward.

The police have registered an FIR and are perusing CCTV footage from inside the hospital and those leading out of the hospital, Bareilly police tweeted on November 4.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Bareilly police, Inspector Naval accessed the medical records of the alleged rape survivor for BOOM and explained that according to doctors the girl is aged 17.

Deputy Superitendent of Police, Seema Yadav who had met with the girl after the FIR was registered said, "The girl is a teenager and when I asked her she said her age is 16 or 17. She is definitely not four-years-old."

BOOM also contacted the teenager's father who speaking over the phone informed BOOM that his daughter is 16 or 17. He said that his daughter does not go to school so he is unable to show any school records.

"But she is a teenager and not four years old.'"

Indian law requires that the identity of rape survivors be protected particularly if the survivor is a minor.

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