Facebook fans of popular blog Mamamia saw a link to a disturbing story about a 15-year-old girl in the Maldives who was raped by her stepfather and then sentenced to 100 lashes for “fornication” (the Facebook post says “fortification”, but we all make typos). Accompanying the post was this photograph of a teenage girl looking a little put out:
Is the site actually publishing a photo of a 15-year-old rape victim? Isn’t that illegal, or at least in very bad taste? The website has the same photo, but with an explanatory caption:
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It transpires this girl is not a 15-year-old Maldive rape and incest victim after all. So who is she? And what is that thing over her right shoulder? Crikey did some cyber-sleuthing, and in addition to the Mamamia post, our mystery girl turns up on an employment website for Alaskan Native Americans. And the wider photo on this site shows a row of American flags behind her.
Digging further, Crikey turned up the original image, from stock photography site dreamstime.com, captioned “Proud american girl”. The row of flags now makes sense. We’re not sure what the site boffins at Mamamia were searching for to find her, as the search terms accompanying the image are varied. The girl’s ethnic background is in dispute, as keywords include “black”, “mulatto”, “chinese” and “alaska” (at least now we know what the administrators behind the Alaskan website were searching for). Or maybe they found her by the catch-all “ethnic”. We are praying the key term was not “sexy”.
Crikey is not sure if we are most disturbed by the first keyword, “sexy”, for the image, which also has the keywords “wellbeing”, “child” and “children”, or by the last three: “attractive enjoy skin”.
A pertinent lesson to all in media: use stock images carefully. And probably not to illustrate heinous real-life crimes.
Update: Mamamia has taken the girl off its website and has replaced the Facebook post. However, the new post still includes the girl: