The Pacific Freedom Forum called out the Samoa Observer for publishing online and on the newspaper’s front page a topless photo of “a 13 year girl with four nipples, a medical condition she was born with.”
The Observer didn’t publish her name or a picture of her face, but did provide contact information for the girl’s family, who “chose to make a plea for public support to cover the costs of corrective surgery,” according to the PFF. The PFF identifies itself as “an advocacy group set up August 2008 in response to threats against media and other freedoms in the islands region.”
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While the PFF’s Titi Gabi called the “story..ethically legitimate,” Gabi argued running the photo was “a lack of ethical judgment.” The PFF’s Monica Miller added “PFF calls for balance to stories of this nature with an editorial focus on promoting respect and dignity for individuals with conditions such as this. Images and words should never convey a ‘freak-show’ aspect, especially in the cases of families whose incentive in going public is financial help aimed at giving the child a shot at a normal life.”
We’ve written to the Samoa Observer seeking comment on the PFF’s statement and will update with any response.