Saturday Star’s article, titled “Give my baby back!” (29/09/2012, p. 1), about a custody battle between a Belgium father and South African mother unfortunately receives a MAD for identifying the child caught between the dispute.
The article explains in detail how the mother is “convicted by a Belgian court on a charge of abduction” after she absconded with her five–year-old child to South Africa three years ago.
The piece, is accompanied by a collage of pictures of the child with her father (who can be easily recognised despite efforts to blur his face) and other various pictures where there are acknowledged attempts to cover her face either through the use of a black strip or blurring techniques. However, it is still possible to directly identify the child due to the exposure of the rest of her face and indirectly through the identification of his father.
This is an unfortunate circumstance as Saturday Star made the effort to mention that it has chosen not to reveal the family’s identities “to protect [that] of the child.”
Media Monitoring Africa fears that the child being exposed this way in the media might result in unwarranted consequences. Such disclosure is not in the best interests of the child 1 as it might serve to re-victimise her and constantly be a bitter reminder of her experience.
Saturday Star and perhaps other media houses need to employ more creative ways of hiding identities of children involved in sensitive matters such as this one. Evidently, merely using black strips and blurring their faces is not enough.
1. Section 28 (2) of the Bill of Rights states, “The child’s best interests are of paramount importance in all matters concerning the child” ↩