Protecting victims while raising awareness

Kim Crane
Posted October 13, 2011 from United States

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!

Comments 4

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Oct 13, 2011
Oct 13, 2011

You have raised great questions and some valid observations. M interpretation of your question is that why do we have to wait until it is too late( for the victims )to make the news?

I think we shouldn't. As much as the editor published this when it was too late ,m hos actions will hopefully prevent the chances of having to publish a photo of another victim. Hos actions have helped to create awareness and raise public awareness and ridicule over the issue. He has also served his purpose by generating discussions such as this.If he didn't publish the article we wouldn't be discussing this

My only hope is that it doenst just end at ridicule or discussions and debates over the need to publish the photo but that some serious actciosn are taken to prevent such kind of violence from happening.

Would aslo like to hear others thoughts

Oct 14, 2011
Oct 14, 2011

There is no smoke without fire, GBV /domestic violence exists in this community. If I where the one, yes I would publish the photo. It has managed to draw the attention of all that , yes indeed, there exists GBV in this community. Then the next thing decision makers need to look for is how to end the problem. Otherwise, people would have never know that this kind of act exist rampantly. This can be the beginning of addressing the issues on GBV. GBV activists should use this opportunity to begin a strong move to end the problem. This woman has been a sacrifice for GBV matters. Her death should not go in vain. Her death should save many more such deaths. This is the power of the media.

Oct 14, 2011
Oct 14, 2011

Hi Ikirmat,

I agree with your point that the photo has brought attention to GBV, The truth is that there may be many more victims who die and go unpublished by the papers, Indeed it would be interesting to see what happens next.


Oct 31, 2011
Oct 31, 2011

Thank you for bring the story to our attention, Kim! I loved the post and the questions you asked. Publishing photos without the consent of person or immediate family members is technically plain unethical. “Doing greater good” is not in newspaper’s job description, providing information that can lead to greater good is more apt.

So I would love to know if the newspaper carried out hard-hitting stories or interviewed women who suffered from domestic violence before. Is there a constant coverage regarding the issue? Did they interview social workers helping these women? Centers that aids these women? Laws that needs to be changed or new laws required? Publishing the photos might have drawn attention but can you genuinely sustain people’s attention to bring about the change that is needed?

If I was the editor, the photo would have never been published! The person is dead and has been humiliated enough by her husband, the last thing she needed was her picture of being beaten on national newspaper, secondly – the family did not agree, how on earth they publish a picture without a family’s consent? It’s madness! They could have published the husband’s picture and paint the story in descriptive words, words are equally powerful.