Double tragedy for rape victim – The Sunday Mail


Date: November 17, 2011
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Name: Double tragedy for rape victim

Name of publication: The Sunday Mail

Name of publisher: Phyllis Kachere

Date: 18-24 September 2011

Country: Zimbabwe

Theme: HIV/AIDS; Gender Violence; Child Abuse

Skills: Accuracy, Use of data

Genre: Features

Gem classification: Gender Aware

Description

As she crawls out of her dirty thread-bare blanket, her HIV ravaged skeleton frame, hardly strong enough to sustain her, quickly gives in. Eighteen year old Miriam Mwadzipura falls back to her floor bed made up of an old sack and another tattered blanket. Her negligible weight is even too strong for her little frame; she cannot carry it anymore. Her mother, 64 year old Mrs. Sophia Kuzvishandira tries to help but her effort yields nothing. Miriam requests that she narrates her ordeal while lying down and eventually summons all her energy and sits on the bench moulded around the hut.

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Description
As she crawls out of her dirty thread-bare blanket, her HIV ravaged skeleton frame, hardly strong enough to sustain her, quickly gives in. Eighteen year old Miriam Mwadzipura falls back to her floor bed made up of an old sack and another tattered blanket. Her negligible weight is even too strong for her little frame; she cannot carry it anymore. Her mother, 64 year old Mrs. Sophia Kuzvishandira tries to help but her effort yields nothing. Miriam requests that she narrates her ordeal while lying down and eventually summons all her energy and sits on the bench moulded around the hut.
Headlines
The story is introduced in a very sombre and pain stacking atmosphere. The headline is in conformity with the contents of the article.
Sources
The article holds the views of women, as this is a narrative of one woman’s ordeal. It is particularly highlighting the sexual violence meted against this innocent being, infecting her with the deadly HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The accounts of men in the article are used somewhat differently as men are either silent (as in the case of the police who do not comment or give reasons on why the perpetrator has not been brought to justice) or they are giving statistical evidence on the reported cases of STIs in the region (the hospital matron Mr. Sithole reiterated that Birchenough Bridge hospital treated roughly 10 cases of STIs everyday). In this regard the writer of the article can be commended for her use of data, as well as when she gives the readers the police crime record number which Miriam was given when she reported her case.
Language
The article resembles some form of stereotypical nature/views as some of the language is very suggestive. This is particularly so when the mother of the victim questioned her daughter if she was in a relationship with her rapist. She clearly says ‘ Miriam came back and narrated what had happened and I questioned whether she had a relationship with the rapist’. This tends to suggest that there is a cultural belief that women/girls that are raped often consent to having sex with the rapists especially if the rapists are known to the victims as in this case.
The language also shows the differences between the roles of men and women. The article tends to suggest that men occupy very influential positions, that can exempt them and their families from facing justice. The phrase ‘ In fact his father was the councillor for our area then’ easily leads to the assumption that, the reason why the criminal had not yet been brought to justice, 3 years after committing a heinous crime is because of the position that the father of the perpetrator occupied at the time. The story also laments the justice system which has done little or nothing to apprehend the culprit. The language also portrays the role of women as care-givers. This is shown by the phrase ‘ now I have to care for her alone with no support….’
Visual Images
The images illustrate the content of the story vividly. The frail looking Miriam’s picture shows her suffering from the symptoms of HIV/AIDS. The other picture portrays women as culturally belonging in the home where their core responsibility is to look after the children.
Story angle
The article predominantly illustrates the voice of women. Male voices are evidently missing in the article. Their voice could have given clarity on the notions that men have in regards to sexual harassment and violence. Generally the article illustrates the vulnerability of women in society.
situations.
Placement and positioning
The story is in the feature story column, bolded and is easily noticed by readers. Its placement shows that it is of paramount importance to speak out about sexual harassment and that the justice system should protect the victims.
Training exercises
  1. What has been done to educate people in marginalised areas on sexual harassment and violence?
  2. Include HIV/AIDS issues in the curriculum and actively talk about it without cultural connotations.
  3. Educate people about the alternative reporting structures like Child care who are more victim friendly.
Other training resources
· Gender and Media Progress Study.< >< ><->


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