Back in July, I wrote about Afshan Azad’s abuse by her father and brother. When they threatened to kill her for having a Hindu boyfriend, she fled to London; her father and brother were questioned and charged by police. Though Azad attempted to drop the charges, her brother and father were tried in court last week. She did not show up to court to testify against them.
Coverage around Azad’s court case is particularly sensationalized because of her work with the Harry Potter films. The Sydney Morning Herald republished a Daily Mail story and titled it, “Harry Potter actress Afshan Azad beaten and abused,” as if the outlet was covering her actual assault (which happened in May), rather than the court case. The Herald followed the Daily Mail’s initiative; their title was, “Harry Potter actress was beaten and branded a prostitute by her brother after dating man ‘who was not a Muslim.’”
The Australian upped the yellow journalism ante by publishing the headline, “Harry Potter actress Afshan Azad ‘missing’ in domestic violence case,” making it appear as if Azad has gone missing instead of not showing up to a trial. The Australian changed the title from the The Times’ original title, “Harry Potter star backs out of ‘honour crime’ trial,” which is a more accurate description of the case.
Part of the sensationalism of the media surrounding the case involves the details. Specifically, the “Muslim” details. The fact that Azad’s family is Muslim is emphasized in everything from the titles to the highlighted case details. To read most of the articles, one would believe that her family’s faith is more important than the fact that her father and brother assaulted her for dating someone they didn’t approve of. [Read more...]