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Everyone has emotions, feelings, and rights, including the right to privacy

January 12, 2012

A New York Times writer, Graham Bowley, recently wrote a post about his quest to interview Sahar Gul. For those who don’t know who that is, she is the young Afghan girl whose husband and in-laws tortured her for her refusal to become a prostitute. In his own words, Bowley tells how he was initially turned away by her doctors (because of the extent of her trauma), but that he would not be deterred, especially when an AP reporter got in to see her, so he went back and “this time, I wouldn’t be turned away.”

You have got to be kidding me. Getting your story is more important than the rights and privacy of a young girl that has just experienced horrific trauma? This is completely unacceptable.

I would take the time to rant more about this, but others have already done a fantastic job, so I will just point you in their direction. Over at Finding My Tribe, Dan’s analysis of Bowley’s post is spot on and more than exemplifies my sentiments.

Shotgun Shack had this to say:

People are not props. This whole ‘being a journalist in a difficult place’ is not an excuse to ignore the fact that people, even poor people, yes, even poor people living in difficult places under difficult circumstances or in situations that a journalist finds atrocious, are human, with emotions and feelings and rights. And one of those rights is the right to privacy.

Did it ever occur to Graham Bowley that people may have been trying to protect the girl that he wanted so badly to get to so he could write his story? Did it ever occur to him that her life and her recovery were more important than his story?

Wronging Rights wrote:

Here, however,  it’s hard to know why Bowley needed to interview Sahar Gul at all – he himself notes that the AP had already done so. So he was balancing the harm of re-traumatizing a tortured child who did not want to be interviewed against…what, exactly? His desire not to be scooped by the AP during his first week in Kabul? We can see why that might be a concern for the reporter, but why should Sahar Gul give a toss?

For those that believe that what Bowley did was wrong and want to prevent this from occurring in the future, Wronging Rights provides an example script that you can email to the New York Times Public Editor.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2012 5:50 am

    Thanks for posting to my post here. Much appreciated, and thanks for the kind words, as well. I sent a letter to the Public Editor using the template “Wronging Rights” had posted. According to the NYT, they hadn’t received too many letters at that point. Mine was the first. Personally, I think we should send a lot more.

    • January 13, 2012 11:19 am

      Did you send your letter after viewing my post or before? If it was after, that doesn’t make much sense that yours was the first one they had received seeing as how I had already sent them my letter and received an automated response telling me that they had received my letter. But I definitely agree with you that more should be sent.


  1. @NYTimes Asks Me to Send Them A Link « It's Always Sunny in Kabul
  2. Sunny in Kabul | @NYTimes Asks Me to Send Them A Link

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