This story has been developing for a few days, and I'm sure many of you have already seen it. Just after Thanksgiving last year, an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by as many as 18 "men," ranging in ages from middle school to 28. The assault occurred in Cleveland, TX.
This story would be horrifying enough without what followed two days ago. A NY Times article written by James C. McKinley Jr covering the article included such victim-blaming statements as "how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?" and "They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at a playground, some said." The overall tone of the article is one of defending the monsters who committed this heinous crime, and focuses on how the survivor's assault will affect the town and the perpetrators. It's disgusting.
There has been general outrage toward the NY Times, including a Change.org petition demanding an apology (which already has over 36,000 signatures). The Rumpus has a nice breakdown of why the response from the Times dodges the issue and passes the buck to those quoted (thanks Briana for the tip!).
Let's hope the NY Times can finally own up to their horrible coverage of this tragedy, and stop feeding into a culture that excuses perpetrators and blames victims for sexual assault. If you want to do something about this, send a letter to the editor or sign the petition.
-Emily R, NPA Volunteer