US media needs to step up to prevent violence against women

In November 2010, an 11-year-old girl was gang-raped by approximately 18 men and juveniles in a small east Texas town. Some of the men and teenagers video-recorded the rapes on their cell phones and sent the videos around to their friends. When an elemenatary school classmate of the girl saw the video and told a teacher, the police were called and the suspects were arrested.

Despite the horrific nature of the crime, several US media outlets are taking a hit for their biased reporting by favoring the suspects and portraying them in a sympathetic light. For instance, New York Times’ reporter James McKinley wrote in his article Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town:

“…The case has rocked this East Texas community to its core and left many residents…with unanswered questions. Among them is, if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?
“It’s just destroyed our community,” said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”“

The reporter also implies the 11-year-old victim is to blame for the gang-rape, that she asked for it:

“Residents in the neighborhood where the abandoned trailer stands — known as the Quarters — said the victim had been visiting various friends there for months. They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said.”

The US media needs to do more to report fair, balanced and unbiased news. That is their main responsibility. By presenting the facts about the gang rape of a child in this un-fair and un-balanced way, they are actually playing a role in perpetuating violence against women and girls in our society. By not reporting the suffering and dispicable violence this child has endured, they are disregarding her human right to be free from violence. In a sense then, they are condoning this violent act.

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