Selective Outrage: How Do People Determine If An Incident Is Worth Outraging About?

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How do the People decide on which atrocity to protest against? How the same crime against 2 different women is viewed differently?
Delhi Gang Rape 2012

Do you remember the brutal gang rape of Jyoti Singh in 2012?

The ‘Nirbhaya Gang Rape’ that took place in the capital of India, New Delhi, is maybe the most talked and debated rape crime ever.

The whole nation stood with the 23-year-old physiotherapy student who was gang-raped by 6 men, out of which a juvenile was also convicted at that time.

Jyoti and her friend were returning home after watching a movie when they boarded a bus where these 6 men planned to rape her.

They beat her friend unconscious with an iron rod and then they took her to the rear end of the bus to rape her where she was beaten with a blunt object, suffered severe injuries to her abdomen and later a rod was inserted into her vagina that was later described by police as being a rusted, L-shaped implement that was used to lift the heavy vehicles up the ground.

They inserted it to ‘teach her a lesson’, as the convict later admitted in the police custody.

The rusted rod pierced through her vaginal wall and her lower abdomen, till her intestines were pulled out through her front bottom. 

The whole nation and the world came out to support her and mourned when she didn’t survive.

The culprits were sentenced to be killed by hanging on February 2020. 

The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, who called on the Government of India and the Government of Delhi “to do everything in their power to take up radical reforms, ensure justice and reach out with robust public services to make women’s lives more safe and secure”.

Public protests took place in Delhi, where thousands of protesters clashed with security forces. Similar protests took place in major cities throughout the country.

The government took radical measures and amended the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

Some new offences were added into the Indian Penal Code that includes acid attack, sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking.

All this happened because of people raised their voice and widespread protests took place

Cut to 2016,

where a 21-year-old girl in Bihar’s Motihari, was dragged out of her home by some local goons and was raped at gunpoint.

Those 5 men raped her and not to be mentioning the insertion of a pistol and a wooden object into her vagina. She was in critical condition when they took her to a hospital and later the victim’s family complained of “no police action against the accused”. 

Any protesters came out to support her? 

There were not any widespread protests against her rapists. The police might be still searching for them or maybe the rapists are busy planning another rape. 

But one question arises, like how do people determine if an incident is worth outraging about?

What are those parameters of selective outrage?

Why the girl in Bihar didn’t have the people’s blood boiling?

Why specifically the ‘Nirbhaya Gang Rape’ was made so outreached?

The reason is because of the ‘Empathy Gap’.

People empathize with the victim whom they feel similar to, or with people who looks like them.

Just like how the terrorist attack in Paris got so much compassion and attention but the attack on Beirut got no such attention being the timing between both the attacks were merely a few hours.

The same empathy gap dictates that people all over the world has seen Paris as the fashion capital and have made their mind to visit there someday. But in the case of Beirut, these attacks did not make any people go nuts over hashtagging it.

Coming to the rape cases, both the girls are almost the same age, both brutally gang-raped and both are Indians. 

Why this selective outrage then?

The fact remains that Delhi, being the capital of India, was not supposed to be the place where a girl could be raped and thrown down the road. 

Bihar, being the poorest state in India, would not be surprising for the people if a girl is raped, because there are no expectations on Bihar to be the perfect and safe place for women, considering its history.

On the other hand, Delhi is what people look forward to visiting sometime in the future. The nation’s capital, which is one of the densest places in the world, is a lifeline of India and its democracy.

So, a rape crime that happens in Delhi means it can happen anywhere in the country.


The fact remains that many things are happening over the world and we cannot be always outrageous about it. The empathy gap determines on which topics we should be raising our voices or on which tragedies we should be outraging on.

This empathy gap is a filter which selects events by which we should be outrageous and which should be shocking enough to make us raise our voices?

Another question arises that our media has been playing a key role in providing and distributing news that mostly points out to the fact that this world is not at all safe and a good place.

The saturation of outrageous contents has made the term ‘Public Mourning’, a highly criticized and politicized term.

The news of people being killed, raped, discriminated and much more is now an everyday event. People are now lacking compassion as to these incidents are becoming a regular event.

In this context of ‘Selective Outrage’, there’s a quote by Josef Stalin that I am fortunate enough to remember:

The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.

Hey Madonna! 

Ask these questions to your conscious mind and get back here to know the detailed answer.  

Why do we selectively protest against the same crime when done to two different people?

What are the reasons for suffering from ‘Compassion Fatigue’?

And for the unlucky bastards who haven’t googled the differences between 

Sympathy vs. Empathy vs. Apathy

Sympathy: Feeling pity for someone else’s misfortune. 

Empathy: Understanding what the misfortune person is really feeling. 

Apathy: A state of not caring at all.

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3 years ago

Read something different today .????

Samikshya moharana
Samikshya moharana
3 years ago

Its a reality check for all the current issues,well presented!

3 years ago


Shatabdi Raut
Shatabdi Raut
3 years ago

It is the reality… Media also responsible for this..

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