Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) gives a MAD1 to The New Age for its article “Girl forced to raise rapist’s son”, (10/02/2016, p. 23). The article, originally published in the Daily Mail (United Kingdom), identified a South Sudanese child rape survivor.
The story is about a 16-year-old girl in South Sudan who was raped when she was 14-years-old. As a result she has a nine -month-old son. The identities of the survivor and her son were revealed despite the effort to hide their faces in a picture accompanying the story.
While we note that this story was first published in international media, The New Age has a constitutional responsibility to ensure that all the stories published in their paper respect the rights of all children and it’s in their best interests. Section 28 of South African Constitution as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child make provisions for children’s rights and best interests to be considered as first priority in every matter concerning the child. In this regard, the story has failed to put what is in the best interests of the child, her privacy and protection from possible harm, first.
MMA acknowledges The New Age’s well-intended actions to inform the society of the existing challenges children face globally however it is important that they in future are sensitive towards child rape survivors and thoroughly evaluate the content of the stories before publishing them to ensure that they are in the best interests of the child/children involved.
By Musa Rikhotso
1. MADs refers to the stories where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage