Media coverage of a shocking sex attack in Greece
One story that hasn't been making me homesick for Greece has been a terrible tale that has emerged there of the gang-rape of a 16 year old schoolgirl by her classmates. It is alleged that four boys took it in turns to rape the girl in the school toilets.
As far as I am aware only one British newspaper has reported on it, but the more that emerges of the story in the Greek press and on blogs, the more shocking the story seems.
It is claimed that the incident itself was filmed on a mobile phone by a girl in the school, and that the victim, a Bulgarian immigrant, was subjected to racist abuse during the attack.
Whilst the higher levels of officialdom have condemned the attack and the local repercussions, feelings in the area where it took place has run high - much of it aimed against the victim.
Greek President Karolos Papoulias said "Greeks have experienced expatriation and racism and we will not impose what we have been through on the immigrants living and working here".
However that lesson does not appear to have been heeded in Amarynthos on Evia where the attack is reported to have happened. The school itself suspended the victim as a punishment for an equal length of time as the 5 days it suspended the four attackers.
The two things that have really struck me have been the overtly sensationalist coverage in the TV media in Greece, and the sickening racism in some areas of Greek society that it has bought to the surface.
Whilst I've been reading Greek and Greek-based blogs about it, I've been astonished at the level of abuse heaped on the victim - with people even leaving comments on some blogs to suggest that the allegations must be untrue, since no Greek would stoop to rape someone as ethnically unclean as a Bulgarian.
The TV media reporting frenzy has been, by all accounts, exploitative - centring on repeatedly showing blurry footage which if it isn't actually mobile phone footage of the attack itself, is a vivid reconstruction of it, shot to look like the film that was apparently taken. Four channels have been fined for showing this footage - Antenna, Alpha, Alter and Mega - although Alter have apparently subsequently felt free to continue broadcasting the material.
It is with cases like the arrest of a blog aggregator, and the broadcast of this kind of footage on the mainstream evening news, that reminds me that the Greek media landscape is a very different one to the one I left behind in the UK. Whilst the British media are never slow to sensationalise violent sexual crimes in the UK, and the tabloid press is full of images of young sexuality, I don't think the early evening news in the UK has yet stooped to showing reconstructions of minors carrying out a sex attack to grab ratings.
But then again, Greece doesn't have a government sponsered agency producing a website that is a licence for vigilante attacks against sex offenders.