Sunvoice

EDITORIAL: We Must Change Our Culture Of Silence

We at the Fiji Sun have been criticised by some other members of the media, the Police and some NGOs over our coverage of the brutal rape of a nine-year-old
18 Jul 2015 14:38
EDITORIAL: We Must Change Our Culture Of Silence

We at the Fiji Sun have been criticised by some other members of the media, the Police and some NGOs over our coverage of the brutal rape of a nine-year-old girl in Nakasi.

Some have complained to the Media Industry and Development Authority (MIDA) that we reported too many details.

We have not identified the victim and her family but we continue to report on their plight and their battle to start a new beginning.

The Police are obviously embarrased we found out about the incident and reported it fully while they failed to keep the public informed.

The Police were first on the scene on Tuesday last week a few hours after the crime was committed. There was no media present.

Fiji Sun journalists went to the scene more than 24 hours after the crime. When they arrived, they heard a Police officer say the Fiji Sun should have been there on Tuesday to capture the initial Police activities.

Our journalist interviewed two brothers who claimed they saw two men. One, a farmer, claimed he saw two men running away. The other claimed he saw two men trying to flag his taxi before the crime was committed. We have got their responses recorded.

Our journalist also spoke to the man who transported the victim and her mother to the Nakasi Police Station.

Attempts have been made to discredit our news coverage.

It’s sour grapes from some members of the media. The simple fact is that we beat them to the news in a highly competitive environment. The other media knew nothing about it till they saw it in the Fiji Sun. They had expected the Police to issue a statement. Police only issued the statement after we ran a front page article on Thursday last week. We cannot understand their rationale because they could have made a statement on Wednesday. But they didn’t.

Police should focus on their investigations instead of worrying about us. They were the first ones on the scene. Today is the eleventh day. How come no one has been arrested yet?

As a newspaper, we realised that this was a serious issue that needed to be highlighted and addressed. Under the restrictive Police policy, we did the best we could to keep the people informed. That is our basic role as a newspaper.

We respected the family by not publishing details that would identify the victim and the family. We were vindicated by the massive public interest in this case. For straight days running, the incident was trending in social media with the highest number of hits.

It dominated talkback shows on the airwaves and public opinion columns. In a nutshell, it gripped the whole nation and even Fijians who live abroad, some of whom have offered to help the girl and her family as a result of our coverage.

The family we were told to stay away from, valued the importance of the media and readily spoke to us. Weighed down by the gravity of this crime, they found the Fiji Sun as a source of relief where they can publicly share their pain and their hope for the future.

The NGOs who complained about us should put their money where their mouth is and take their cue from Government ministers Parveen Kumar, Rosy Akbar, Mahendra Reddy and Veena Bhatnagar and others. They should convert their concern into some form of tangible help for the family.

For the other media, let’s behave like real professionals and admit that you were beaten by the competition.

We hope the Police position will not perpetuate a culture of silence that is seen as a barrier in the reporting of sex-related crimes like rape, incest, indecent assault, abuse and violence against women and children.

Like the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has said: “We need to talk about the issue more.”

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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