Why the inverted commas?

(26 Posts)
MyNameIsLola Wed 06-Feb-13 17:13:44

I rarely post in feminism but I lurk an awful lot, have always had feminist views and have been educated by this board.

I was browsing the news earlier and came across this story. I'm confused as to why on earth the word rape is in inverted commas! The girl was 8 FFS, surely there is no plausible explanation as to how she could've given consent.

Can anyone else see any reason why they would use them or are Sky just misogynistic, rape apologists as well as arses?

Perhaps because although it's almost certain to have been a rape it is still under investigation. I read it as being intended in the same way that the media has to refer to 'alleged rape' until a conviction has been obtained. I guess doing it this way takes up less space.

tribpot Wed 06-Feb-13 18:56:20

Yes, I think it's to indicate that this is a quote, rather than a finding. The prosecutor lists rape and child sex abuse as possible findings - there may be differences in law which would make one more appropriate than the other to charge the boy with when he is found, perhaps.

I see that one of the comments praises the girl for having gone through with the pregnancy and noting that women in the UK could learn from her. Which is nice. confused

AmandaPayne Wed 06-Feb-13 19:00:52

Yes, the authorities say in the body of the article that it is a rape or sexual abuse case. There are no inverted commas there. But 'a rape' is a specific crime with a perpetrator and a victim and you can't refer to any crime in those terms until conviction. Just as you see the word 'murder' in inverted commas in reporting.

AbigailAdams Wed 06-Feb-13 19:38:08

I don't know what the laws in Mexico are but in this country a 9 yr old who has given birth has been raped. There are no ifs or buts. She has been raped because she is too young to consent. Who did it is irrelevant to the fact that the crime was committed. And giving birth at 9 is irrefutable evidence. So I disagree, Amanda. I also haven't seen murder in inverted commas (not doubting you just never remembered it). I don't think it is that common unless the actual crime may not have been murder.

AmandaPayne Wed 06-Feb-13 20:26:39

I am sorry Abigail but I disagree. A 9 year old has not necessarily been raped in the legal definition of the term. No, a 9 year old could not consent. If it turns out that a male above the age of criminal responsibility has had sex with the girl, there has been a rape. But if the person who had had sex with her turned out to be below the age of criminal responsibility there would be no defendant. If it turned out that she had been forcibly penetrated with a turkey baster by a woman, there would be no rape in the legal sense. I am not saying that either of those scenarios are any less horrific, but there would be no legal rape.

And newspapers have to be incredibly careful when reporting using terms which have legal definitions as criminal offences.

The times I am thinking of when I have seen 'murder' or 'murderer' are usually those where there is a possibility of manslaughter being raised as an issue.

AbigailAdams Wed 06-Feb-13 20:31:58

Oh OK I see what you mean. All smacks of not believing the victim though.

AbigailAdams Wed 06-Feb-13 20:33:57

Not you I hasten to add. Society, the papers etc.

MyNameIsLola Wed 06-Feb-13 20:36:35

That was my take on it, Abigail. I wasn't questioning whether the accused raped her, that is obviously alleged until proven. I meant I didn't see how it could not be rape, given the girl's age.

I do take your point though, Amanda, I guess I didn't think it through fully.

AmandaPayne Wed 06-Feb-13 20:40:53

Yes, absolutely. But the problem is that they can face accusations of libel, and worse they can be accused of influencing a jury and affect the chances of a solid conviction (probably unlikely half way round the world, but they can't choose where they apply the rules. It would be too complicated). It's a pain, and newspapers can be overzealous. But there were no inverted commas when the state prosecutor said that this was a rape or sexual abuse case - which it undoubtably is since, as you say, consent is impossible. It's actually one where I think they probably did ok.

Can't believe I have just said that about Sky news.

tribpot Wed 06-Feb-13 20:41:24

Yes - you will often read slightly weird-looking headlines, like "person <x> 'dead'" - which doesn't mean the reporter doesn't believe the person is dead, they are just being careful about how much to report until it is a confirmed fact.

I agree in this case it looks extremely insensitive, though. It implies doubt that a crime took place, which it clearly did. What it means is there is doubt about which crime it was.

AmandaPayne Wed 06-Feb-13 20:41:45

Oh, of course, it is extremely unlikely that there has not been a rape. But even if there is a 0.1% chance, they have to be sooo careful.

feministefatale Wed 06-Feb-13 20:45:09

I agree OP, It doesn't sit right does it?

See, good can come from a bad situation. May they both live long and happily! If it was here, she'd just have gone straight down the clinic and had that kid ripped out. I praise this young girls strength and courage! There's a lot fo women in the UK could learn a lesson from her.

Yes, trib... lovely comment huh?

Some "good" cam out of the situation. Presumably a young child had a human come out of her vagina or had major surgery. I can't even imagine the damage that would have happened to her little body from this. A man made the comment as you can imagine, with so little empathy he can't even imagine the damage that would be done to a child's body by pregnancy and birth. I can't imagine being the girl's mother in that situation, I just think if I had to end it myself, the pregnancy wouldn't have continued.

But the hospital said it would have to do extensive follow-up work due to the new mother's age.

I mean that sounds pretty worrying doesn't it?

tribpot Wed 06-Feb-13 20:49:50

Yes - and not forgetting the severe emotional distress that must arises first from abuse and then from being pregnant aged 8 (btw is this really possible?) and now to be 9 and a mother - some happy ending for this child.

Who can say in this case which option would have been more traumatic for a child, it's an impossible decision. But that comment turns my stomach.

AbigailAdams Wed 06-Feb-13 20:50:54

I think I have just thrown up a little feministe. These fucking forced birthers really do not give a fuck about women. Just in case anyone is any doubt!

feministefatale Wed 06-Feb-13 20:55:16

It's possible, I remember reading the youngest mother ever was like 5 or 6. The vast majority of women don't reach puberty so young, so I imagine a rapist would think he was "safe" in not getting his victim pregnant. This fucker won't be able to get out of this thought at least as there is DNA proof of his abuse..if they catch him

feministefatale Wed 06-Feb-13 20:57:24

She was 5. I think the picture of her on Wiki is really inappropriate, especially as she is seems she is still alive.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lina_Medina

MyNameIsLola Wed 06-Feb-13 22:03:29

No, it doesn't sit right at all, Feministe, I guess I had a guy reaction that I didn't think through. But it still seems horrible, like its questioning that poor young girl or something sad.

And that quote is absolutely sickening. I can't imagine the effects that this could have on the girl for te rest of her life, physically, emotionally. I had my first child when I was 18, it was bloody hard in so many ways, yet I was an adult. I wouldn't change anything now, of course, an I was lucky, everything worked out very well for us. But 9...? Jesus.

AmandaPayne Wed 06-Feb-13 22:08:41

I think the problem is that we don't have the language do we? We have 'alleged' and using inverted commas. Both of which are also used to express doubt about a story or version of events. There isn't the language for 'this crime has not yet been the subject of a conviction so we can't refer to it in an unqualified way'.

It does tend to reflect horribly on the poor abused girl. Whatever happened to her, it was a piece of horrible abuse of some sort.

Trekkie Thu 07-Feb-13 00:10:01

OP I agree with you. In the actual piece the following appears:

""This is a rape or child sex abuse case," said Jorge Villasenor with the state prosecutors' office".

If the local prosecutors don't feel the need to hedge or be mealy-mouthed then there is no reason for the paper reporting it to be. So it's the paper's choice to describe it as a "crime" rather than a crime.

AmandaPayne Thu 07-Feb-13 08:50:38

But they are totally different statements. In two important ways.

This girl has been sexually abused in some form. So the headline could have said "after sexual abuse" without inverted commas around sexual abuse. You cannot automatically conclude that what has happened to her was rape, so after choosing that word they had to use the inverted commas. It was because they chose to name a specific crime that they had to use them, not because it's a 'crime'.

Secondly, the police commissioner said it was a rape case. Which is like saying it is a murder investigation or a murder case. It doesn't prejudge the outcome of a trial.

AbigailAdams Thu 07-Feb-13 09:35:43

Well that begs the question why they didn't just use sexual abuse instead of 'rape'. You know instead of implying that the victim might be lying or there is any doubt about rape, actually coming out with a positive "this child has been abused" type statement as the headline.

Anyone would think it was in their interests to keep people doubting about rape crimes.

AmandaPayne Thu 07-Feb-13 09:47:06

Yes. I did think that. I suspect it is to do with 'rape' being considered a more dramatic term and therefore better news. Oh, and typesetting. Neither is an excuse though.

Snorbs Thu 07-Feb-13 10:08:54

They may simply have chosen 'rape' rather than 'sexual abuse' because it's shorter and made the headline fit better. Long headlines end up as small type and so have less impact. Short, punchy headlines are more powerful.

Is it just me that finds the accompanying picture distinctly odd? (A baby's hand round the little finger of a grown ups hand - title 'the father' wtf?

Ah, mis-read it. Still odd. Think they were scraping the barrel looking for a picture there.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now