Bangkok, Thailand newspaper the Daily News named and photographed a victim of gang rape, but later took down the identifying information. The victim was a Scottish woman “on holiday…with her boyfriend,” according to the UK Daily Record, which didn’t name her “for legal reasons.”
The Asian Correspondent, an “English-language” news site, explained that the Daily News, a Thai-language newspaper with a circulation of close to 1 million, included in its report on the rape “a copy of the victim’s university identity card that showed her face and her full name.” As evidence, the Asian Correspondent included a screenshot of the Daily News’ report with the identifying information blurred out.
But, following online criticism, the Daily News scrubbed references to anything identifying the victim, the Asian Correspondent wrote. When iMediaEthics viewed the Daily News story Feb. 20, the only picture accompanying the story showed police apparently looking at a crime scene.
In its report critical of the Daily News‘ “insensitive coverage,” the Asian Correspondent commented:
“The media may have access to sensitive images and identity information, but this does not mean they have to publish them….Unfortunately, there is a strong tendency among Thailand’s media to take the information provided by the authorities and reproduce it without question or any real context.”
Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance characterized the Daily News’ “lapse of ethics” as “unfortunate.” In a statement provided to the Asian Correspondent, alliance spokesperson Kulachada Chaipipat reminded:
“It is important for the media not to further traumatise the survivor, that the role of the media is to report and expose the issue, but to protect the dignity of the survivors.”
Further, the Asian Correspondent questioned how identifying the victim could “add to coverage,” and reported that even the British Ambassador to Thailand, Mark Kent, weighed in, noting that he “and other Ambassadors have on several occasions set out our view to media and authorities about the need to respect victim confidentiality, especially for serious crimes and incidents.”
iMediaEthics has written to the Daily News asking
- Where it got the victim’s ID
- Why it published it
- Why it took down the identification
- How many complaints it received about identifying the woman, and
- What guidelines it follows in reporting on rape or sex assualt victims
iMediaEthics has also reached out to the Thai Journalists Association asking for comment about this case, for more information about Thai media standards for reporting on sex crimes and if its ethics committee will be investigating the Daily News. We’ll update with any responses.
Last year, South Africa’s Daily Sun defended its publication of a still image from a video of a missing minor “being gang-raped” because it said its coverage led the girl to being found and because it had gotten permission from the girl’s mother to use the image.
And, earlier this year, there was dispute between tabloid the UK People and the father of a Delhi, India gang rape victim after the People named his daughter, who had died of injuries from the attack. While the People reported that the woman’s father had given permission to name his daughter, he told India’s the Hindustan Times that he only wanted her name made public “if the government uses my daughter’s name for a new law for crime against women that is more stringent and better framed that the existing one.”