The front page news article in Voice newspaper on monitoring day was a classic example of how justice for victims of violence is often overshadowed by the skillful lawyers of the perpetrators and gender blind media coverage.
The story overwhelming focused on the alleged perpetrator being denied his constitutional right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time, but there is no mention of the following:
That his victim was his 13-year old step-daughter Verlinda, who was raped, murdered and buried in a shallow grave. Verlinda had been stabbed several times, her eyes were perforated, her legs broken and gramoxone had been stuffed down her throat.
All this happened on the same day when she was due to appear in court at a trial of two men in her neighbourhood accused of raping her.
Her step father, who initially found her body, claimed to be innocent, but it was discovered shortly after, that he was the one who sent her on the errand and knew that she would be walking in the early morning on a very lonely and deserted road.
In the beginning many people thought the perpetrator was one of the men who had been charged with raping her. DNA evidence however proved that the semen found on that child was that of her step father.
It was discovered that she was a victim of incest from her step father. Since her plight was common knowledge in that small rural community, she became prey for other men who also took advantage of her.
At the time of Verlinda's death, she was also pregnant. Many speculated the baby she carried had been fathered by her step-father, that he was afraid he would be identified as the father of the child and that the reports of his sexual abuse would surface in court. When the step father was con-fronted with the DNA evidence, he said that he 'only had sex with her the night before' but was not responsible for her death.
No one knows why the police took so long to bring this matter to court. There is such scant regard for cases involving violence against women and girls. The way the reporter handled that story is very telling. It is very probable that this step father will simply continue with his regular life.
The reporter never mentioned any of the facts of that case and why the child's step father was in jail on remand for her murder in the first place.
The Star newspaper carries a front page story about a facility for juvenile delinquent boys, but there is no mention of the fact that there is no facility for girls who find themselves in trouble with the law. There is also no facility/place of safety or home for children who are victims of incest etc.
That same newspaper has an article about the musician Rihanna but the reporters missed a great opportunity to speak about violence in our own society, how much of a problem it is, which needs to be addressed.
Who Makes the News (WMTN) is a knowledge, information and resource portal on gender and the media. It hosts the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), a research and advocacy initiative that pursues gender equality in and through the news media.
WMTN is run by WACC, a global network of communicators that seeks social justice through communication rights.