Reports of looting

Chileans affected by the earthquake have no food, water and electricity, so is it really fair to call them looters? How are people in a disaster zone supposed to get to their money to buy food if ATMs and EFTPOS aren’t working? Hence the whole “disaster zone” thing. It’s wrong for Western media to be pointing fingers and saying “ooh, look at the looters”. They did it with Haiti too.

Update: The ABC has been playing a game I like to call “Drunk girls deserve to be raped”. In a story about taxi driver MD Kowsar Ali who raped a woman:

The 18-year-old woman had been drinking with friends in the inner-city before hailing a taxi to take her home to the city’s southern suburbs.

So what if she had been drinking with friends? Whether she had one glass of wine or was blind drunk is irrelevant. But I don’t think the journo who put this sentence in was thinking “she asked for it”. It’s one of those things that you just put into stories without thinking, but it’s part of rape culture. Melissa McEwan at Shakesville explains it best, but here’s a part of it:

Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.

8 responses to “Reports of looting

  1. When it comes to taking food from the stores I’d say no but if some one is taking electrical appliances or other consumer goods as some of the news footage showed I would say yes.

  2. outragedofmarrickville

    I saw the washing machine footage too and have to agree with Iain on that one that that is opportunism.

    However (big pause) a lot of looting reporting has a different slant and focus when the people in the disaster zone are non-anglo. The same was seen in Hurricane Katrina. Black people were looters and white people were desperate and trapped and just trying to feed their families. I am surprised how little press has been given to Chile actually – do we, as a news reporting nation, have media fatigue of disasters. Climate change suggests we will get lots more!

    • I think the Chile quake hasn’t been given much media coverage because “only” 700 people were killed. Of course 700 is a terrible figure, but coverage of disasters does seem to step up a notch if the death toll is in the thousands. But I am surprised that it’s rarely been “above the fold” on the SMH.

      There’s a theory that coverage of disasters depends on how similar the victims are to us. Or if it happens somewhere we like to go on holiday. Hence the 2002 bomb blast in Bali (202 killed, 88 of them Australian) got massive coverage (and anniversary coverage), but the 2005 Kashmir earthquake (82,000 killed, 3.3 million homeless) barely rated a mention. The Belgian train crash a few weeks ago (18 dead) got a lot of coverage too. So, following this theory, the Chilean earthquake should get more coverage than the Haitian one… maybe it’s just that all the journos are still in Haiti?

  3. Ok, here’s a question. If you couldn’t afford a television, and then there was some sort of catastrophe and everything was crazy and you saw people taking tvs from a shop, can you honestly say you wouldn’t too? That you wouldn’t say to yourself, ‘my house has fallen down, my family is dead, I’ve got no money, so fuck it, I’m going to take a tv’. I think it’s problematic to judge people for the way they act in a disaster zone.

  4. I never thought about rape culture like that and it’s a fairly compelling point. It’s shit that women need to be so aware of everything they do lest some thug lose control of himself. Rapists need shooting if you ask me (not shooting dead, shooting head if you catch my drift)

  5. Formeryl, there are some ways all of us can challenge rape culture, and I suspect that even though we disagree on many things, you don’t believe women deserve sexual violence. Check out this post at abyss2hope.

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