A mother’s limits

Alice believed sharing their story would help remove the stigma attached to rape. Prior to filming, she had given public talks and spoken to both the South African and international press. Alice was comfortable sharing her daughter’s story, but unsure about including footage of her daughter in the film. However, she permitted Jeremy to collect footage of the child, putting off her final decision until the end of the process.

Listen: Alice decides to participate in the documentary

Filmmakers’ choices

Lee and Gans’ decision about whether to include footage of Princess wasn’t necessarily based just on her mother’s consent; they too had to reach a decision they could defend. Concerns about informed consent, and who is able to give consent for a child, were central to Gans’ and Lee’s decision making process. They knew that ideally it would be the child who would make the choice for herself. “The child is a child and is an individual and should be entitled to make the decision for herself when she’s old enough to decide,” Gans says.

But since she couldn’t understand the situation, all the filmmakers had to go on was the mother’s consent. And so they had to work through their own ethical considerations before choosing whether they wanted to include the face of a victim of infant rape – a decision centering on questions of informed consent, privacy, and the possibility of future harm.

Next: Informed consent: What journalists might learn from doctors

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