Historically, photography has been a powerful method of telling stories through imagery. Unfortunately, The Citizen’s photograph (10/06/2011, p. 19) featuring a naked girl being bathed on a sidewalk in Jakarta, Indonesia, lacked contextualisation and for this reason, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is MAD.
The caption accompanying the photograph described it as “people taking a bath and wash clothing on a sidewalk in Jakarta yesterday” followed by information on the country’s economy; “Indonesia kept its key interest rate steady at 6,75% as inflation slowed further in May, easing pressure on the economy as the central bank battles huge inflows of foreign capital.”
There appears to be a weak link between what the image is depicting and the information in the caption underneath. If the intention was for the image to portray poverty while providing the reader with information on the country’s economic developments, a more appropriate photograph could have been selected to convey this point better, and one that didn’t include a nude child.
MMA is concerned that without appropriate contextualisation, this photograph is not in the best interest of the child and further marginalizes the child as she appears to be used as a device to attract the reader’s attention to a topic that has no direct or clear relevance to the contents of the photograph.
MMA recognizes that historically, photographs depicting nudity, including nude children, have been used effectively to document and convey powerful evidence of war and conflict, as famously exemplified by a photograph of a nude Vietnamese girl running, with soldiers in the background. However, an image featuring a nude child with little to no relevant context is unjustified.
MMA encourages journalists and editors to ensure that published photographs are in the best interest of the child and are always contextualised.