Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) awards a GLAD[1] to the Sowetan and journalist Fhumulani Khumela for respecting the rights of the child concerned when reporting the article “Teen girl ‘reveals rape’ by step-dad” (26/02/2015, p.11).

The article covers a very sensitive issue that is still before the courts while respecting the rights of those involved, including the 15-year-old girl who was allegedly repeatedly raped by her stepfather. While the person concerned is not the child’s biological father and may not share the same surname as the child, the extra care taken to not identify him and thereby protect the identity of the child is to be commended.

The journalist mentions in the article that, to protect the girl’s identity that the stepfather also cannot be named and in doing so has protected the rights and dignity of the girl and her other family members.

Children involved in legal proceedings need even more protection[2], as they are at greater risk of harm, so it is very important that Khumela took care to do this.

The journalist appears to have sourced the information in the article from records of the court proceedings. She has carefully selected excerpts from the child’s letters, which will serve as evidence in the case. The pain and anguish that the child felt is expressed through quotes from the letters she wrote during the period of her alleged attacks. These are powerful because the readers are taken through a personal account of what she had to endure at the hands of her stepfather. In a way they break the silence surrounding the crime committed against her.

It is also commendable that the journalist has not further traumatised the child by attempting to speak to her about the matter, nor has she jeopardised the legal matter at hand by speaking to anyone involved.

MMA commends Fhumulani Khumela and the Sowetan for reporting on such a sensitive matter with care and attention to respect the rights and dignity of the child involved.

By Amanda Rowen

1 On a weekly basis, MMA highlights cases of good practice, where the media has promoted the rights and welfare of children, otherwise referred to as “GLADs”, as well as instances where the rights and welfare of children have been compromised through irresponsible media coverage, referred to as “MADs”