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'Anyone been raped and speak English?' syndrome lives

The story, I hope apocryphal, of the TV crew who went to a group of refugees in Africa and asked: “Has anyone here been raped and speak English?” has long illustrated complaints of insensitive journalism. A report in The Independent today about a magazine writer seeking photogenic war widows runs it pretty close.

According to The Indy, a freelance reporter working for Glamour magazine sent an email to Military Families Against the War, seeking women, aged between 30 and 38, whose husband had been killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. In part it read:

Glamour is very looks-conscious so, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, they need to be photogenic, or at least comfortable in front of a camera! The editor likes to approve each case history, so when I send her a short bio (“X is aged X and lost her husband X in the war X”) she likes to see a jpeg pic too. I know this is a big ask, but it’s something she demands! Hey ho!

Jo Elvin, editor of Glamour, said she was “outraged and sorry”.

There is no denial in the report that she asked to see the pix before approving the women to be included. If that is the case, I hope her “outrage” extends to herself.

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