Today was the first time I've ever seen the issue of domestic violence in Turkey make headlines in a major Western newspaper—or anywhere really. Victory, right?
The article from the Wall Street Journal is a good one, diving into the disturbing statistics of a deep problem that deserves public attention and our outrage.
What is troubling is that this story would never have existed or caught my attention if it weren't for a graphic and controversial front page photo in a Turkish newspaper—taken of a naked domestic violence victim with a knife in her back moments before she died—that was published without permission and in spite of opposition from the victim's family.
The editor of the newspaper wants to frame his decision as a classic "I did it for the greater good" argument. But I can't help but wonder, when there are so many survivors and survivors advocates fighting hard against the scourge of domestic violence, why couldn't one of these women make the cover of the same newspaper? Why couldn't her image of strength and resilience spark headlines around the world—telling the same harrowing story of injustice, but on her own terms. Why is the only media-ready spokesperson against domestic violence the one who has already been silenced? Who will never have the opportunity to tell her own story or authorize the use of her image?
If you were the editor of this newspaper, would you publish the photo if you knew it would draw attention to the cause? Are there similar debates in your community? Visions for a clear way forward out of this ethically murky territory?
Interested to hear your reactions!