If Publishing Child Rape Victims’ Names / Photos Seems Like a Bad Idea to You, Consider Emailing the NYTimes Public Editor

I’m guessing a lot of you read Amanda’s post last night and thought “Gah, WTF, Kristof?” (Quick recap: In an op-ed about the DRC, Kristof included the name and photograph of a 9 year old victim of rape despite (1) his own previous statements explaining why doing that is a terrible idea, and (2) UNICEF guidance confirming that child victims of sexual exploitation should not be identified.)

Well, good news. As TexasinAfrica points out, there’s something you can do to help: Email the NYTimes public editor at public@nytimes.com and ask why the paper thought it was appropriate to publish this information. (Or, if you’re feeling cranky this morning, you might ask whether it’s now acceptable to run identifying details of ALL child rape victims, or if it’s only those who are inhabitants of poverty-stricken sub-Saharan African countries who don’t need to be protected from stigma.)

Kate Cronin-Furman


  1. duckrabbit flagged up a similar controversy last year when the Washington Post ran a series of pictures of Kurdish girl being circumcised. They actually showed her face at the time, then named her.

    I couldn't quite get my head round it, but I have to say more people seemed to think it was right to publish it than not!

    The Guardian newspaper picked up on the story.

    Someone at Amnesty America promised to investigate but never got back to me!

    For me the publication of this photo, which is worse than the one in The New York Times, set a new standard. Nobody seemed to really care that for the rest of her life a search of that girls name is likely to pull up a picture of her being circumcised.

    What was really sad is the two most prestigious photography prizes in America gave the set of photos awards.

    Read about it here:


  2. Gina:

    In your first paragraph, both of your links point to Kristof's blog entry — including the one that's supposed to point to "UNICEF guidance" about the matter. Which UNICEF page did you intend to link to?

  3. Lets not lose sight of the fact, horrible as the exploitation and manipulation of this child may be, that EVERYTHING that Kristof does on the underdeveloped world evinces the same disregard for subjectivity, identity, politics, even shared humanity, that we see here in the photo issue.

    He is a dangerous man – dangerous in his stupidity, his ability to use horror to both turn Africans into bodies, and to silence the reader through that visceral, voyeuristic horror; the way he encourages the reader to give money but to never examine how the reader's life may help exacerbate the horror they are reading about. He cannot think in systems or structures, and therefore he enervates meaningful political responses. This is the tautology of awareness raising: he will raise awareness until something is done, but what is that something? It's limit is either military domination or nothing.

    The fact that people love him is all the more terrifying: their Orientalist and racist desires reflected back at them through these cathartic rituals of symbolic violence.

    Congratulations to this blog for at least beginning to poke at some of these issues. Keep on it.

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