I wont say much because this got me to. A few months ago an Italian photographer published pictures of a body of a Ugandan girl he helped exhume in order to tell a story of human sacrifice in Uganda. A story caused much backlash from the online world and Pultzer Center took down the pictures. Now I found myself looking on in disbelief how TIME could run some of their pictures in the essay about maternal mortalityin Seirra Leone. Pictures of one woman road from pregnancy to death and pictures show her during labour and the funeral.
As a journalist I understand the desire to tell a comprehensive story and the use of pictures but why do western media persistently publish pictures of Africans that in their own countries would simply be out of question? I don’t ask this because our own media is any better but I am puzzled because these are leading media houses in the world.
I have learnt one thing that while telling the African story, there’s always a different yardstick used. In Africa, show victims in anyway you want for the line between dignity and the abuse of it and all those tenents that the media claims look to be almost permanently blurry. Where else would you take pictures of naked women in labour with blood all over them en identify them and expect that be an act of goodwill except in Africa? I would expect TIME not to publish picture no 3.
No doubt Maternal mortality in Africa is still a huge challenge becuase of a myraid reasons but how do we tell the entire story without overriding peoples dignity? In Uganda the mortality rate is above 400 per 100,000 births and some countries are worse than that but how do we tell the story of limited progress in reducing these deaths significantly but maintaining the cap on dignity for those thousands of families accross Africa that go through such horrors everyday?