The Ontario Press Council has dismissed a complaint against the Toronto Star, which ran a wire photo of an identifiable Afghan youth who had been sexually abused. A complaint had been launched that the Star would not have published a picture of a Canadian youth in a similar situation, and that this publication led to a double standard. 

The Ontario Press Council has dismissed a complaint against the Toronto Star, which ran a Getty wire photo of an Afghan youth who had been sexually abused. A complaint had been launched that the Star would not have published a picture of a Canadian youth in a similar situation, and that this publication of the Afghan boy’s photo led to a double standard.

The photo accompanied an article in a series—Afghan Dancing Boys—exposing allegations that Canadian soldiers had been instructed by their superiors to ignore the sexual abuse of young boys.

“The Council found that it was a reasonable assumption on the part of the newspaper that the photo subject was asked and gave permission for the photography and that he understood it would be used in conjunction with a story to be published on the lives of Afghan Dancing Boys,” the Ontario Press Council said in its decision. “Indeed, the decision of the Star to publish a photograph to emphasize the appalling nature of the sexual slavery practices in question was entirely justified and is to be commended.”


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A minority of council members with a dissenting opinion argued that although the youth gave his consent, one cannot presume he understood that the article would be available to a global audience.

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“The Star had access to at least one of the Getty photographs that did not enable the individual’s identity to be determined,” the minority said. “That is the one that should have been chosen for publication. Alternatively, in the photograph that was used, the individual’s face should have been blocked or blurred.”

*Photo courtesy of Eric Mark Do/J-Source

Read the full decision here:


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